Many children, teens and adults idle away hours of time each day on electronic or digital devices, not realizing that those pieces of technology may be harming their vision. How? These devices contain blue light, which is different than simply seeing the color blue. Blue light is a lightwave that carries so much energy that too much exposure without proper eye protection will damage the nerves in your eyes. Here is everything you need to know to protect your vision during National Screen Free Week!
Screen Free Week is coming up. This is a national observance from April 29th to May 5th, and one when children, teens and adults alike are all encouraged to be off their devices. We know that many adults must do work that involves digital devices such as computers, tablets, smartphones and more. However, the goal is to get outside more, spend time with family and move away from digital devices while in the home.
There is even a website devoted to this week, and you can register for Screen Free Week here. This week is “an annual invitation to play, explore, and rediscover the joys of life beyond ad-supported screens.” The goal is to trade in time generally spent watching videos, surfing the web or on social media, and using that time outside with your family, having dinner together, making crafts or doing other activities that build closer relationships and friendships.
For children, many studies show that playing—instead of being on digital devices—are the things that really help build the mind and foster creativity and curiosity. These, plus the skills children learn through play, are critical to growth and development. You simply can’t get those things through digital devices.
Because we are an eye center, we have specific reasons for caring so much about Screen Free Week. Did you know that digital devices harm your eyes over time and can even lead to irreversible eye conditions such as macular degeneration? Most people don’t!
One of the most common eye diseases actually is macular degeneration, and it’s becoming more common with digital devices. Macular degeneration is vision loss over time that happens because the macula tissue of the eye is damaged. Your eye is full of liquid and blood vessels. In the back of the eye are all the tissues (such as the retina) that help you see. When light enters your eyes, it will go through all the layers of your eyes until it hits the retina tissue all the way at the back. That retina tissue has millions of light-sensitive cells that take in information and transport that information to your brain through the optic nerve.
With macular degeneration, the cells in the macula (or center part of your retina tissue) become damaged. Blue light exposure can damage the macula, or all those cells taking in information. Once those cells are damaged, they can’t be repaired. We know that blue light can damage your macula, which is why limiting blue light from electronics can help you save your vision. This is why Screen Free Week is so important.
Many—if not all—of the electronic devices used today emit light, and more specifically blue light. The most popular digital devices used are smart phones, tablets and televisions. However, computers, LED light, fluorescent light, and most electronics with a screen will emit specific lightwaves (like blue light) that can damage nerves in the eyes.
Blue light is not simply just a light that is blue, but it is blue because of the high energy wavelength it carries. Blue light lies very close to ultraviolet on the electromagnetic spectrum. UV rays harm the eyes, damage tissues, cause vision loss, cancer and disease. Blue light can do much of the same because it has a very short wavelength. That means it is a light with tons of energy, and it’s all hitting the cells of your eyes. Over time, if you have lots of blue light exposure due to electronic devices, you may be damaging the cells you need in your eyes to see.
Do your eyes hurt you after looking at a screen for too long? How about getting headaches or dry eyes? These are just a few side effects of too much screen time. The Vision Council reports that more than 83% of Americans use digital devices more than 2 hours a day. 53% use two devices simultaneously and over 60% report having digital eye strain. Digital eye strain causes headaches, migraines, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain, problems focusing and more. This can happen in small children quicker because they sit so close to digital or electronic screens.
If you use digital devices or electronics often, consider investing in computer glasses. These are special glasses that will block out blue light waves that are hitting the delicate nerves of your eyes. They can significantly reduce your risk for macular degeneration. If your children are on devices often and there is no way around that, consider a pair of glasses for them. This can prevent them from having blurred vision or developing eye problems early-on.
When it comes to your eyes, protecting them is as simple as putting on a good pair of professional computer glasses for you and your children. You can also participate in National Screen Free Week and see how your family benefits. To learn more about Screen Free Week or to schedule your eye consultation for computer glasses, call Peeper’s Optical today at (303) 333-2800!