Blue Light Hazard- Youth at Greatest Risk
We are all involved in an experiment right now… and our eyes are the petri dishes!! Please hear me….our children are at the greatest risk!! We have no idea what is going to happen to the health of our kid’s eyes as they get older. I want to shout it from the rooftops the dangers of blue light. As your community eye care professional… it is my responsibility to educate you about these dangers. I am starting with our youth, and then in subsequent blogs… I will discuss further the other dangers that blue light poses. I fear for our children’s future as it relates to their eye health!!
What is blue light? It is the blue part of the visible light spectrum- between 400 and 500 nanometers.
The sun is our biggest exposure. However, now we are exposed to indoor blue light: fluorescent lighting, compact fluorescent lighting, LED lighting and LED screens. It is an overexposure to blue light that is damaging. As it is a cumulative lifetime exposure to blue light that causes photo-oxidative retinal damage that leads to Macular Degeneration. Due to advancements in technology, we are exposed to more blue light today than at any point in human history. We can’t get away from electronic devices… it is not realistic… they are a part of us now…almost like another appendage.
You ask… why are children at more risk? They have shorter arms (the closer the device- the more intense the energy), larger pupils, and very clear crystalline lenses which allows blue light to enter at full strength. There is also a protective pigmented layer in the macula that filters blue light (more to come on this later), but it does not start developing until our early 20’s. Therefore, not only can more blue light get into kid’s eyes, but it can do more damage.
In addition to time spent outdoors, a 2012 study showed that kids age 8-18 years old spent an average of 9 hours on electronic screens held close to their eyes. WoW!!
So…. What can we do about it? I don’t think you will be able to take away your teenager’s Iphone!! No, I don’t think that’s an option… I have a teenager… I know!!
As of yet, there is only one lens that filters 100% of the harmful blue light. It is called a BluTech lens. It is not a tint… it has ocular lens pigment (our natural protection within our eyes) that is infused into the lens. They are available as an indoor lens and an outdoor lens. You can get them in prescription or non-prescription, as well as clip-ons to go over your current eyewear. I do not let my kids use an electronic device without them… and now, they don’t even want to. They say they can barely stand to look at a LED screen without their BluTech’s on. In fact, to protect my own eyes, I don’t get on a device without my BluTechs!!
To learn more go to: www.blutechlenses.com
In Good Health,
Dr. Kim Walters