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ATTENTION: Todays technology may be harming our eyes | Long Island Eye Doctor

ATTENTION: Todays technology may be harming our eyes
Joel Kestenbaum, OD

 Research shows that blue-violet light can be harmful to our eyes.  At this point, just about everyone knows that invisible ultraviolet (UV) light is harmful to our whole body, including our eyes.  We all know we should wear sunscreen for our skin and sunglasses to protect our eyes.  But now there is increasing evidence that it is not only UV light that can damage our eyes pre-maturely, but light in the visible blue-violet range.

Decades of UV exposure has been shown to cause cataracts and now we know that blue-violet visible light exposure is harmful to the delicate tissue in the back of the eye called the macula.  Macular degeneration is a condition that we can liken to rusting.  If we expose metal to the elements, it rusts.  The macula is part of the retina and is responsible for our sharp, central vision which includes our color vision perception.  Exposure to blue-violet light has been shown to cause oxidation, or rusting of the macular tissue leading to macular degeneration and loss of central vision.

harmful_blue_light_screen

Many common items that we use today emit light in the blue-violet range of the spectrum.  Here are a few:  Smartphones and tablets, energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs and LED bulbs, and of course our LED computer screens.  The sun is also the major offending source of blue-violet visible light.

Blue-violet light is a threat to our eyes.  It is imperative that my colleagues and I begin to tell our patients about this harmful wavelength of visible light and I for one am starting now.  I am always reading the research and I attend many lectures on the subject.  Reading the research is one thing, but getting my patients to comprehend and act on this information is another.  My patients are not likely to be happy with this information as they love all the new gadgets that they are using.  But if the results can lead to potential blindness, they have to listen.

Fortunately, scientists and lens companies are developing special lenses and lens treatments to protect our eyes from these harmful rays of light.  In our practice, this is the first thing we are recommending as a line of defense against future problems.  And this defense needs to start with protecting our children.  My whole family, including my grandchild, wears protective lenses.  Years ago companies were selling “blue blockers”.  These orange colored lenses blocked all blue light and distorted colors.  Today, new lenses work by selectively blocking out the harmful blue-violet light.  As a result, the lenses are cosmetically appealing, protective, and provide clear and crisp vision.

My fellow eye care professionals must educate their patients on blue-violet light and the way to safely use their devices in their daily lives.   Our patients must modify their behavior while using these every-day devices.  Here are some great rules to adhere to:

  • Increase the working distance between the device and your eyes.  Put the phone or the tablet in your lap, not close to your face.
  • Reduce the brightness of these devices to as low as you can tolerate it.  By doing this, it will reduce the overall amount of blue-violet light emitted.
  • Take breaks and use it in moderation.  Adhere to the 20/20/20 rule.  Use the device for 20 minutes, take a 20 second break, and look at least 20 feet away, preferably out the window.

Someone once said, “Forewarned is forearmed.”   By protecting your eyes and the eyes of your family now, you are more likely to enjoy excellent quality of vision for a lifetime.

For more information on this topic, please see one of our associate doctors at Optix Family Eyecare Center in Plainview or you can e-mail us at seeclearly@optixeyecare.com.

Dr. Joel Kestenbaum,

Optometrist

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