Students are spending more time in front of screens, increasing their exposure to harmful blue light.
The pandemic has forced a pivot to online and hybrid learning for K-12 students, leading to a sharp increase in screen time for kids of all ages. However, research indicates that overexposure to blue light emitted by computer screens could result in damaged eyes.
Understanding the danger
“Blue light, which is naturally emitted from the sun, has both dangers and benefits to our bodies,” said Dr. Premilla Banwait, OD, FAAO, optometric consultant at online eyewear retailer Zenni. “Although studies in this area are more recent, they point to blue light’s negative effects on eye health in the form of eye strain, dry eye, macular degeneration, headaches, and sleep disruption. Children are especially vulnerable to the high energy portion of the light spectrum, which includes blue light and UV, because their young eyes have not yet developed natural defenses.”
Banwait also pointed out that during this time of social distancing, children are spending more time in front of screens to complete their schoolwork, but also in lieu of other normal activities.
Fortunately, there are many ways to offset the risks associated with overexposure to blue light — for both children and adults.
“Give your child’s work environment ample amount of natural light to reduce eyestrain that may occur when the screen is brighter than their workspace. When possible, engage your kids in some easy yoga stretches that involve standing up and focusing at a distance. Even better, get them outdoors in between classes to break up long periods of screen viewing and assist with eye relaxation; and place a desktop monitor 25 inches and a laptop no fewer than 20 inches away from your child’s face. You can also use an arm’s length distance for comfortable viewing.”
Another simple solution for parents is to invest in glasses with blue light blocking lenses. “Blue light-blocking lenses such as Zenni Blokz® help block harmful UV and blue light emitted from digital screens, artificial light, and the sun,” said Banwait. “Blue and UV light live in the high energy portion of the light spectrum, which ranges from 280-500nm. Zenni Blokz® lenses block out 100 percent UV light and nearly 100 percent HEV blue light up to 415 nanometers, with some additional blue light protection beyond 415nm. As a comparison, traditional sunglasses with ‘full’ UV protection only block 380-400nm.”
This article has been paid for by Zenni.