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Blinded By The Light

Effects of hand-held digital devices on eyes can be harmful for individuals of all ages, with an even greater concern on younger eyes under the age of 5 due to the increased rate of development during this time. With these concerns in mind, we at EyeCare Associates may recommend that your child wear blue-filtered prescription lenses when using hand-held digital devices to lower the ocular risks associated with these digital devices.

 

Cell phones, tablets, computer monitors and television monitors emit artificial light called blue light. Compact fluorescent lamps, LEDS and newer headlights also emit blue light. Blue light is more difficult for our eyes to absorb, which can lead to more visual stress and strain when looking at these devices. Traditional incandescent light bulbs emit very little blue light. Health and vision risks associated with blue light exposure are still uncertain due to the recent increased use of digital devices in our society.

 

Some things we do know is that visible blue light, also known as “High Energy Visible” light, is located right next to ultraviolet (UV) rays on the light spectrum. We also know that ocular health risks associated with prolonged exposure to UV light include pingueculas, pterygiums, cataract formations, skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma) around the eyes and age-related macular degeneration.

 

Recent studies have discovered that exposure to blue light has been associated with suppressing melatonin levels in the brain, delaying and disrupting sleep patterns. Younger patients are at higher exposure levels of blue light when using digital devices due to naturally having a larger pupil size, allowing more light to be absorbed by the retina. In addition, individuals tend to hold digital devices closer (12 in.) to the eye compared traditional printed materials (16 in.). Holding digital devices closer to the eye increases the exposure to blue light.

 

Here at EyeCare Associates, we support the following guidelines and recommendations associated with digital devices:

  • Children 18 Months of age and Younger:
    • Should not be exposed to screen time/digital devices EXCEPT for video-calling such as FaceTime/Skype with family and friends
    • Children younger than 2 years of age need HANDS-ON exploration and social interaction and cannot achieve these skills from digital media. If using digital media at this age, these children are mentally not developed enough to transfer there experiences from digital devices to the 3-D world around them
  • Children 18-24 months
    • Should avoid digital device use, but if introduce early apps need to be of high-quality educational programming
    • No more than 30 minutes/day
    • Use/time needs to be Co-Viewed with adult/child interacting together
    • Children 2-5 years of age
    • No more than 1 hour/day
    • Use/time needs to be Co-Viewed with adult/child interacting together
    • Children 6 years and older
    • Place consistent time limits on digital devices
    • Discontinue digital devices one (1) hour before bedtime
    • Do not sleep with digital devices in bedrooms

 

Recommendations for Blue Light Filtered Lenses:

  • Strong Family history of macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Anyone using digital devices for work or leisure for any amount of time
  • Patients who have had cataract surgery (natural blue light blocking lens removed)
  • Difficulty adjusting to headlights while night driving