Sources of blue light include the sun, indoors lights, TV, computer screens and handheld devices. Blue light can impact eye care patients in several ways: causing eye strain, fatigue, headaches, and sleeplessness.
“That’s always been the case, so why am I hearing so much about it now?“
It’s true that blue light was the hot topic for several years. With the pandemic and so many more people working from home on devices for extended periods of time – without looking away, interacting with other people, or changing their focal points – it’s become an exploding topic. It’s obviously more important than ever. Bottom line? It is here to stay.
We can’t assume everyone knows about blue and available solutions. We need to ask questions. We should be asking lifestyle questions which then lead to questions about the amount of blue light people may be exposed to. We need to have conversations.
When understanding your patients’ use habits and exposure, we must also recognize that the biggest sources of blue light are not the ones that cause us the issues. It is often the blue light that is closest to our face, meaning tablet and phone use, followed by computer screens. Those devices are usually at less than an arm’s length away and we typically blink much less when using those devices. Consider children, whose arms are even shorter and therefore the devices they use are usually closer to their eyes.
How do we explain blue light?
After we understand that our patients (and their extended families as well) might have the need for some sort of protection (and I am sure you could have guessed that most people would benefit), it’s time to educate. We need to be able to explain what blue light is in ways that help our patients understand (and care) about its potential effects.
In easy-to-understand terms, light is made up of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet light. When combined, it becomes the white light we see. Each of these has a different energy and wavelength. Rays on the red end have longer wavelengths and less energy. On the other end, blue rays have shorter wavelengths and more energy.
Light that looks white can have a large blue component, which can expose the eye to a higher amount of wavelength from the blue end of the spectrum.
This wavelength of light is emitted from the many things in our environment and that wavelength where transmission is the highest is purposely tuned because the screens of today give a great picture and detail and that look is achieved around the 455 nanometer range of the spectrum.
Okay, so what is the problem with that wavelength of light?
Not all blue light is harmful or have negative effects. The biggest positive effect is that is ‘wakes the body up.’ It directly impacts our circadian rhythm. It boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function, and elevates mood.
Headaches: On the flip side, the negative effects can vary based on the person. For people that are prone to headaches and migraines it has been scientifically proven that blue light can trigger those conditions.
Digital eyestrain: Blue light from computer screens and digital devices can decrease contrast leading to digital eyestrain. This can happen as the screen is making you more alert and you are blinking less, in addition to not looking away enough. Symptoms of eyestrain include sore or irritated eyes and difficulty focusing.
Sleep: Sleep is probably the biggest issue with blue light because when we are supposed to be preparing for rest and our bodies are supposed to be creating melatonin, as a society we turn to our handheld digital devices to catch up on news, emails, or social media. The devices we use near sleep time are usually handheld and closer to our eyes, thereby allowing blue light to wash over us. If you recall, the blue light is telling our bodies to be alert and disrupts the circadian rhythm. Even if you can fall asleep easily, the quality of your sleep could be disrupted.
Poor sleep quality can lead to fatigue and impact on overall health and productivity. This is especially evident in children where there have been studies linking extended digital device use to school grades.
Solutions, Solutions, Solutions
In addition to talking to patients about screen time and “screen hygiene,” other solutions include talking to your patients about including special lenses in their glasses, whether that is Blue Blocking AR Coatings or Blue Blocking Lenses. It’s important to know about the features and properties of each as they are not all created equal. For instance, we know that digital devices today transmit the most of blue light at 455 nanometers, and not all solutions block at that range of the spectrum.
Who is the Audience?
Everyone! Seriously. Anyone who spends over 4 hours a day at a computer, digital device or under LED lighting. You have your patients but in this category, you can expand your audience to everyone, that includes their family members (spouses, kids), and friends etc.
That’s possible because there are great plano solutions on the market such as the BluTech collection by ClearVision.
- Gen X
- Baby Boomers
- Rx and Non Rx
- Contact lens wearers
- Sunglass Wearers
How do I market this solution?
Educate. Talk. You are the expert. Patients trust you.
To go beyond that, ask your staff to make sure you have signage or brochures in the office.
Ask your vendors if they can support you with social media resources or email assets you can send to your patients.
Since (literally) everyone is in the audience set, you can also incentivize your patients to recommend or talk about to their friends and family through a referral program. Print cards for them to hand out and future patients can walk in the door with, and you can give your patients making the referrals a discount or perhaps for sharing on social media and tagging you.