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Blue-Light Filters: What’s the Big Deal?


Prepared by O. Pierre, and C. Young

Introduction

Students and professionals, worldwide, depend heavily on digital screen usage in their day-to-day activities. With ever-increasing technological innovations, we use technology to solve our day-to-day problems and stay connected, but it. Despite its benefits, the use of electronic devices, especially for extended periods, yield adverse effects on the eyes. It has been suggested that prolonged usage  of electronic devices contribute to digital eye strain as well as other side effects (Mayo Clinic, 2020). For that reason, some optical entities offer blue-light filtering glasses for their customers; however, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), in addition to other organizations have yet to endorse them based on the suggested lack of evidence of their effectiveness as well as the minimal risk that they pose (Vimont, 2018). On the other hand, some optical professionals recommend that blue-light blocking filters do, in fact, have positive effects when used (Vicente-Tejedor et al., 2018). This suggests that blue-light blocking lenses would be especially beneficial for individuals that spend extended hours in front of their electronic devices.

Here at JUNURI, we value integrity and quality in the services and products we provide to the students, professionals, and other customers that we serve. With our new eyewear collection, NURILENS, we understand the importance of being transparent by providing reliable information so that our customers can make informed decisions. While there exists a significant amount of false advertisements regarding the impacts of blue-light blocking lenses, we do support its positive impacts on our students and professionals who spend extended hours in front of their computer screens. Our aim with this white paper is to present the background on blue-light, empirical research surrounding its impacts, as well as JUNURI’s recommendations on the matter.

Background

Humans originally depended on sunlight to see. We transitioned from fire and torches to electric bulbs, where the source of light was similar in the spectrum from the sunlight (O'Hagan, 2016). With the development of electronic devices, our sources of light have now become artificial in different aspects of our lives (Downie, 2017). Moreover, technological developments have increased the dependency on modern electronic devices for people of all ages (Downie, 2017). We interact with a number of digital devices every day, and the like, including our phones, tablets, televisions. 

Studies show that 42 percent of children under 8 years old own a tablet or other electronic device (Timberg, 2019). Pew Research Center also found that all millenials use the internet, with 86 percent of them using social media on a day-to-day basis (Vogels, 2020). Additionally, over 80 percent of Americans use the internet on a daily basis (Perrin, 2020). Such studies suggest that the  screen time and intake of blue-light is high.

Impacts of Blue Light

Despite how the use of electronic devices fosters productivity in our day-to-day lives, the biggest pitfall is digital eye strain. Blue light, as described by the Mayo Clinic (2020), under continuous and high exposure from screens, can lead to digital eye strain, which describes pain or pressure around the eyeballs that results from prolonged use of an electronic device. The most common symptoms associated with digital eye strain are; pain in the eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and dry eyes. The level of discomfort or pain depends on the individual’s vision conditions and the amount of contact time with their electronic devices. Most symptoms of digital eye strain may disappear after stopping computer work or the use of digital devices. However, due to the exposure and reliance on the digital world, more individuals continue to experience digital eye strain symptoms even after stopping work at a computer. 

The negative impacts of blue light are suggested to not just occur while in direct contact with electronic devices but can last some time afterward, especially during one’s sleep cycle. A study by Heo et al. (2016) investigating the immediate effects of smartphone blue-light on humans at night found that the use of blue light smartphones at night-time may negatively influence sleep. In other words, when we think that we log off early enough to call it a night, the blue light can signal our brains to stay awake when we really need to wind down. This may even lead to fatigue the following day. We would again do the same thing over and over on a daily basis, not realizing that we are stuck in a continuing cycle.

While other optical advertisers suggest various false claims, the AAO proposes healthy practices. The “20-20-20” rule, for example, states to “look away from [the] screen and [to] look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds” at 20-minute intervals. Additionally, using proper distance and reducing the glare and brightness is also advised (Porter, 2020).

Blue-Light Filters

Given the suggested impacts of blue light on the eyes and sleep patterns, blue-light filters have been developed in different forms to alleviate the possible negative impacts. In fact, professional gamers, who spend at least 5-10 hours per day playing video games on their electronic devices, employ blue-light filters on their eyewear and computers to alleviate the potential impacts of the blue-light on their eyes. In fact, an experimental study conducted by Ostrin, Abbott, and Queener (2017) found that night-time melatonin statistically significantly increased by 58% after using anti-blue light blocking lenses before bedtime.

Conclusion 

While the people we serve at JUNURI are not gamers, we have found that our clients, most of whom are students and professionals, also spend extended hours in front of their electronic devices and would benefit from blue-light filtering devices that may alleviate the suggested impacts of digital eye strain and facilitate increased productivity. We have found that by using blue-light filters and exhibiting healthy habits, as recommended by the AAO, students and professionals can continue to safely and healthily use technology for its advantages.

JUNURI agrees with the AAO and the Harvard Medical School on the need to employ healthy habits to alleviate the impacts of blue light on the eyes. Nevertheless, given the significant exposure that our customers have to blue-light, we also recommend blue-light filters, as they may help manage the suggested negative effects on the eyes. 

The NURILENS eyewear collection, aside from its chic and fashionable look, seeks to provide a blue-light filtering solution to the students and professionals that we serve. Check out our Fall Collection, which is available for pre-order beginning October 1, 2020. 



References

Downie, L. E. (2017). Blue-light filtering ophthalmic lenses: to prescribe, or not to prescribe? Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics, 37(6), 640–643. https://doi.org/10.1111/opo.12414

Heo, J., Kim, K., Fava, M., Mischoulon, D., Papakostas, G., Kim, M., Kim, D., Chang, K., Oh, Y., Yu, B., & Jeon, H. (2017). Effects of smartphone use with and without blue light at night in healthy adults: A randomized, double-blind, cross-over, placebo-controlled comparison. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 87, 61–70. 

Ostrin, L. A., Abbott, K. S., & Queener, H. M. (2017). Attenuation of short wavelengths alters sleep and the ip RGC pupil response. Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics, 37(4), 440–450.

O’Hagan, J., Khazova, M., & Price, L. (2016). Low-energy light bulbs, computers, tablets and the blue light hazard. EYE, 30(2), 230–233. 

Mayo Clinic. (2020). Eyestrain. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eyestrain/symptoms-causes/syc-20372397.

Perrin, A., & Kumar, M. (2020). About three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are 'almost constantly' online. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/25/americans-going-online-almost-constantly/.

Pew Research Center. (2020). Demographics of Mobile Device Ownership and Adoption in the United States. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/

Porter, D. (2020). Blue Light and Digital Eye Strain. AAO. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/blue-light-digital-eye-strain

Timberg, C., & Siegel, R. (2019). World health officials take a hard line on screen time for kids. Will busy parents comply? The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/04/24/who-infants-under-year-old-shouldnt-be-exposed-any-electronic-screens/

Vimont, C. (2018). Should You Be Worried About Blue Light? AAO. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/should-you-be-worried-about-blue-light.

Vicente-Tejedor, J., Marchena, M., Ramírez, L., García-Ayuso, D., Gómez-Vicente, V., Sánchez-Ramos, C., de la Villa, P., & Germain, F. (2018). Removal of the blue component of light significantly decreases retinal damage after high intensity exposure. PloS One, 13(3), e0194218–. 

Vogels, E. A. (2020). Millennials stand out for their technology use, but older generations also embrace digital life. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/09/09/us-generations-technology-use/