Americans Are Concerned About Blue Light As Screen Time Increases During Pandemic. What Experts Say.

Americans are concerned about blue light as screen time increases during pandemic. What experts say.

Americans Are Concerned About Blue Light As Screen Time Increases During Pandemic. What Experts Say. 1

Blue light solutions such as blue light-blocking glasses and screen filters are quickly becoming popular consumer products during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans working from home grow more concerned that blue light from digital devices may be harming their eyes. A survey conducted in July suggests that employers are also contemplating the dangers of blue light. More than half of the 500 employers surveyed said they considered vision benefits with coverage for blue light-related solutions as "very attractive" to "attractive," according to the Screen Time 2020 Report by UnitedHealthcare Vision and Eyesafe, a company that specializes in blue light technology. Studies have shown that exposure to blue light can be beneficial during the daytime to boost attention, reaction times and mood, but can disrupt sleep after sundown, according to Harvard Health Publishing. "Blue light is difficult to focus on, most of our digital devices have a lot of visible blue light," said Scott Edmonds, chief eye care officer at UnitedHealthcare. "This blue light, we believe, is going to build up in a long period of time." While some eye care professionals worry about blue light exposure from digital devices, most experts say there's no evidence that it harms eyes and blue light-blocking glasses are essentially useless during the day. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, blue light from computers will not lead to eye disease. Dr. Sunir Garg, retina surgeon and professor of ophthalmology at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, says there's more blue light in the sun than in digital devices. "Blue light is something that humans have been exposed to since the dawn of time," he said. "In parts of the world, they are going to get more blue light exposure in any given day than we will sitting in front of our screens." Garg says human eyes do a good job of filtering low wavelengths, such as blue light, so that the amount of light that hits the retina is usually very low. Eye symptoms from screen time have more to do with the user's behavior while interacting with the device than the wavelengths emitted. For example, people tend to blink less as they focus on computers and smartphones. AAO says humans normally blink around 15 times per minute, but the blink rate can be cut in half when staring at screens. What is hot for tech holiday? 'Practical' gifts like routers and computer monitors Blink now:Increased screen time during the pandemic sends more people to the eye doctor Garg says staring at screens also decreases eye movement, which can fatigue eye muscles that are accustomed to moving around instead of holding one position for a long time. Ophthalmologists recommend taking frequent breaks from computer screens using the "20-20-20" rule: look away from the screen every 20 minutes and focus on an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to reset. Garg also recommends keeping a distance of at least 25 inches from your screen and using artificial tears to lubricate your eyes if they feel dry. Most studies have been animal models that expose subjects to more blue light than what is possible to emit from a computer screen, Garg says. There are no studies that look at the blue light's effect on eyes in the long term. "Those studies take a long time," Edmonds said. "We do not need to wait to see the damage, we do not need to wait until people are blind to do something about it." "On one hand, there's a kernel of truth to it. The iPhone and human beings is a recent evolution," Garg said. "(But) we do have data and that's sunlight data and it does not seem to be dangerous from the sun . which makes me think the screen stuff is overblown." Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.

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