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Computer Vision Syndrome Q & A

According to recent studies, 60% of people spend as much as 6 hours a day in front of a digital device whether it is a computer, tablet, smartphone or other gadget. All of these devices emit blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) light, which is a known cause of computer vision syndrome, sleep disruptions and possibly other potential dangers to the eyes. Blue light radiation is also emitted from television screens, electronic devices. fluorescent and LED lighting and yes, even the sun.

What is Blue Light?

Emitted from the sun, blue light is naturally occurring in the world around us. On the spectrum of visible light (light that humans can see), blue light has the highest energy and the shortest wavelength. It is also sometimes known as blue-violet or violet light, which is where ultraviolet (UV) light rays that are just beyond our perception get their name. Much like ultraviolet light, blue light has both dangers and benefits to our health, particularly to our eyes.

What are the Potential Dangers of Blue Light?

Research is still being done to determine the long-term effects of blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) light emission, however it is known is that blue light is a cause of computer vision syndrome (CVS) and sleep disruptions.

Eye Strain

The high energy and shorter wavelengths of blue or HEV light emit a less consistent flow of light, creating a glare or flickering that can cause eye strain. Because sharpness and visual contrast are affected by this, the eyes have to work harder to see clearly. After extended periods of time this can result in headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and mental and physical fatigue.

Sleep Disruptions

Natural blue light in the atmosphere is known to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm (which controls your sleep cycles), to boost your mood and level of alertness and to improve memory and cognitive function. However, prolonged exposure to artificial sources of blue light has been shown to reverse these positive effects, causing disruptions in the circadian rhythm which affects sleep, as well as an increased risk of depression. Studies show that using a digital device before bedtime can negatively impact ther amount and quality of your sleep.

Macular Degeneration

Researchers at Harvard University have shown that over time, prolonged exposure to blue light can cause damage to the retina at the back of your eye, which may lead to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and possibly other serious health and vision problems. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss and low vision.

How Can You Protect Yourself from Blue Light Emissions?

As the dangers of blue light from digital devices emerge, more and more options are becoming available to protect your eyes. The eyes have very limited natural ability to block out blue light radiation so we need to be aware of blue light exposure and how to minimize it.

Computer glasses with blue-blocking lenses, coatings and filters are a good solution for those working on a computer for long periods of time each day. You can also add anti-glare coatings with blue light protection to your regular eyeglass and sunglass lenses. Additionally, there are filters available for devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets, to reduce the amount of blue light radiation that can reach your eyes.

The easiest way to reduce blue light exposure is to take frequent breaks when working on a computer and to reduce screen time overall.

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Update on COVID-19

Family Eye Center Optometry’s focus is, as always, on the health and safety of our patients, staff and the members of our community.

In response to recent recommendations from the California Optometric Association and in compliance with San Mateo County’s shelter in place order we will be temporary closed from March 17 to April 7, 2020. All regularly scheduled routine eye appointments will be cancelled – we will reach out to reschedule.

If you need assistance in ordering or picking up contacts and glasses please call/text us at 650-654-2015 or email at info@familyeyeco.com. We will be checking voicemails, texts and emails throughout the day.

Stay safe and healthy.

Thank you for your patience, and we look forward to seeing you back when we reopen – stay tuned for updates.

Alina Kagan, O.D.