Blocking blue light offers big benefits

March 5, 2018

This piece is presented by Avera.

As a health informatics specialist, Paige Andersen spends a ton of time on a PC, either helping develop communitywide scheduling protocols or teaching health care professionals how to use new software.

All that screen time took a toll on her eyes.

“My eyes just felt tired all the time, and my vision was not nearly as crisp as it once was,” she said. “I started thinking perhaps I needed a prescription. Something seemed wrong.”

The issue at hand led Andersen to visit Dr. Gregory Hill, Avera Medical Group Eye Care optometrist, who recommended an approach she had not considered.

“Dr. Hill said I didn’t have any issues that would require me to wear prescription glasses, but he had a recommendation: lenses that would both help block blue light and reduce eyestrain,” Andersen said. “They are a special lens that can help reduce glare, stop that type of light that can really affect your vision if you’re on screens a lot.”

Hill’s colleague, optometrist Dr. Paul Draayer, said the lenses work by including a little magnification to reduce eyestrain along with a special blue light filter that can reduce the excess blue light we are exposed to from our ever-increasing use of smartphones, tablets and PC monitors.

This filter for indoor use gives the lenses a mild yellow appearance. The more common “blue blocker” lenses for outdoor use may have a brown, copper or orange look to them.

Andersen noticed the magnification and a bit of clarity right away, but heeded what Hill mentioned — usually patients who begin using the lenses notice the benefits after two weeks of wearing them. One thing she really likes is the fact that the glasses are easy to use, no matter what she’s looking at.

“The change is coming along — I notice my eyes are not as tired as they were before, and they allow me to see things at a distance without bifocals too,” she said. “I’d tried reading glasses before and never really got used to using them — these are like those, but it’s an improvement and the two-week mark hasn’t come yet.”

“Blue light can lead to eye fatigue and over time, for people who are on screens regularly or for long periods of time,” Draayer said. “Blue light fatigue, or digital eyestrain, can lead to tired eyes because the anterior structures of the eye — the lens and cornea — are not well-equipped at blocking this light.”

Draayer explained that the short wavelength of blue light can “scatter” more, so when people like Andersen are looking at screens with more visual “noise” than other visible light sources, it can lead to strained eyes.

“The use of these lenses can be a great overall eye-health step for people who work often on devices,” he said. “It’s a nice option for a lot of professionals, like Paige, who log a lot of screen time.”

Andersen said it’s great to have choices in fighting eyestrain.

“I don’t have to repeatedly put them on to work on a screen and then take them off for a walk down the hall,” Andersen said. “It’s been a good overall adjustment for me, and I am glad I can work with my eyes not getting as tired. It’s great having this convenient option.”

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Blocking blue light offers big benefits

It’s probably not a surprise, but all that screen time can take a toll on your eyes. Here’s what you can do about it.

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