It’s a phone illuminating a dark bedroom. A tablet settled on a lap, casting a blue glow. Electronic devices surround our everyday lives. And for a child, it’s their greatest form of entertainment. But, are their eyes paying the price?
In a world in which we schedule virtual work meetings and stream movies at a hefty subscription fee, but with a tap of a finger, we can neither stow away our devices nor ignore the consequences.
Enter the newest wellness trend: blue- light-filtering lenses. Online eyeglass services and walk-in stores sell these glasses stamped with a promise that it may protect your eyes. It’s time to step beyond the frames and consider the “may.”
WHAT IS BLUE LIGHT?
According to a Harvard Medical School article, blue light is visible light with more energy than light compared to other visible light energies. The immediate example our minds wander to are digital screens. The sun is actually the primary source of blue light, but blue light also comes from LED lights, fluorescent lights and television screens. White LEDs from lights can emit more blue light than other sources, even though the blue light might not be visible, the article said.
IS BLUE LIGHT HARMFUL?
Despite public perception, there’s little evidence showing that high blue light exposure from screens damages a child’s eyes. As the Harvard article said, iPhones feature a max brightness of about 625 candelas per square meter, while retail store lights have an illumination twice as bright. And, these are minuscule in comparison to the sun’s light emissions.
Its greatest crime is eye strain manifested as dry eyes, easily remedied with some shut-eye and eye drops. Eye strain happens when focusing on anything for too long, like reading a book for hours. Encourage your child to take breaks and hold their devices at arm’s length. Blue light’s effect on sleep pattern is another story — it’s the greatest saboteur.
Blue light disrupts your circadian rhythm, or your internal alarm clock, more than traditional light sources, according to the Harvard article. People can actually benefit from its wavelengths during the daytime by increasing attention, but limit your child’s device usage about one to two hours before tucking them into bed. Melatonin is suppressed by light exposure, so an environment void of blue light is important in letting your child’s body produce melatonin and prepare for sleep, according to a National Center for Biotechnology Information article.
HELPFUL OR HYPE?
Should I buy my child blue light glasses?
While there’s no evidence proving that screen time harms children’s eyes, it’s still a young technology that hasn’t existed long enough to show its long-term effects. And considering our children’s growing consumption, there’s a reason to feel concerned. It’s why people buy into blue- light-filtering lenses.
Blue light glasses have special lenses said to filter out the blue light emitted from digital screens. Eyeglass services claim that these lenses protect from screen glare and reduce potential eye damage from prolonged blue light exposure, according to a Cleveland Clinic article.
Regardless of whether or not you choose to purchase a pair for your child, take preventative measures like minimizing phone, laptop and television use at night to avoid the blue light effects that hinder a child’s sleep pattern. A good night’s sleep for them is a good night’s sleep for you, too.