The news is awash with stories about screen time and the effect it has on our health. We are using our various devices on an ever increasing basis and the rate at which we're doing so doesn't seem to be slowing down. In fact, according to an Ofcom report, we now check our smartphones an average of every 12 minutes of the waking day in the UK alone.
Alongside this increasing usage we're also increasing our expectations around quality. To meet these expectations the display technology needs to be more and more visually pleasing - we want it to be whiter, brighter and thinner. All of this has led to additional interesting developments, such as flexible electronics, and the use of organic LEDs (OLED) and liquid crystal displays (LCD) by engineers is at an all time high.
While this technology enables us to go down the "better and better" route with our devices, one of the more negative impacts is the effect on our eyes, predominantly as a result of the increased exposure to higher levels of high-energy visible (HEV) blue light. This article explains in detail what blue light is.
The simple explanation is that HEV is an intense band in the light spectrum that reaches to the back of the retina. Blue light occurs naturally from the sun and is good for your health in smaller doses. It actually regulates your wake/sleep cycle. However increased exposure to HEV that is present in our devices can result in a specific set of symptoms called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). This causes physiological effects such as tired, dry and sore eyes.
This is enough of a concern when it comes to using our phones and tablets but could be an even greater one as even more developments take place with technology, such as virtual reality and augmented reality. Will the effects be even more significant? We simply don't know what the long term effects on our eye health will be.
Those using devices at a very young age are especially at risk. This is because the eye only develops a natural filter to take out the 400-360 band of the light spectrum (HEV blue light) in the teenage years. The figures speak for themselves: around 25% of HEV reaches the retina in adults. That figure is 60% for children.
There are various devices and applications available that can help reduce the levels of harmful HEV light on your devices. Richard at Eyemasters recommends doing your research and choosing one that will work for the needs of the user. This is especially important if you're allowing your children to use a device for a number of hours each day.
Protect the eye health of you and your family, now and for the future.
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