This is a sponsored post written in partnership with VSP
Whether or not you consider yourselves addicted to technology or not, we can all admit that we spend a lot of time looking at screens. From computer screens at work, smartphones that helps us stay connected to the people we care about most, and streaming shows on a tablet or using eReaders that are supposed to help us wind down at night, screens are everywhere. They’re also prevalent in our kids’ lives too.
With so much screen time these days, eye doctors are seeing a sharp increase in digital eye strain caused by blue light exposure in both children and adults. Lots of research is being done on blue light, which is emitted from the screens of digital devices, but the truth is that digital devices haven’t been around long enough for us to truly understand the long term effects it may have on our health. The medical and scientific community continues to research blue light’s ability to slow down melatonin production, which can make it hard to fall asleep, as well as the potential long-term cumulative effects of blue light exposure, including possible vision loss.
Blue light is something for all families to be mindful of. Here’s what you need to know about blue light and how to help reduce exposure to it.
What is Blue Light?
Blue light is a high-energy range of light within the visible light spectrum. Historically, our exposure to blue light was limited to sunlight. But in today’s world, we are exposed to more and more blue light emitted from our favorite digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets, computer monitors, television, and even compact fluorescent (CFL) and LED lights.
With unprecedented levels of blue light exposure caused by more screen time, children are increasingly dealing with digital eye strain, which causes sore, tired eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and other symptoms. Because blue light is defocused in front of our retina, our eyes have trouble focusing the light, which makes our eyes work overtime to continually try and focus.
“Today’s world is device-driven, which means our eyes will continue to be exposed to more and more blue light,” said Gary Morgan, a VSP optometrist based in Phoenix, Arizona. “Thankfully, there are some simple and easy ways that the entire family can reduce blue light exposure and keep their eyes more comfortable.”
5 Tips to Help Combat Digital Eye Strain and Reduce Blue Light Exposure
Visit Your Eye Doctor
An annual trip to the eye doctor is critical for the entire family, but especially for children. In fact, they’re just as important as regular well visits to the pediatrician! Healthy vision is essential to your child’s ability to learn and achieve their academic potential, play sports, and other activities. Whether or not your child needs glasses, talk with your family’s eye care professional about special lens enhancements that reduce blue light exposure.. Not sure what to expect at your child’s first eye doctor visit? VSP’s Getting Kids Ready for Their Eye Doctor Visit is a great resource.
Institute Breaks Using the 20-20-20 Rule
When looking at any type of digital screen, have your child take a break every 20 minutes and spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away.
Limit Screen Time Before Bed
Before modern electricity, the rising and setting of the sun used to determine sleep cycles but blue light from devices at night disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm. This disruption shuts off the production of melatonin that helps us fall asleep. Eliminating screen time two hours before bed may make it easier for your child to fall asleep.
Maintain Your Digital Distance
Find a comfortable working distance from your screen. This is especially important for children since the intensity of light increases exponentially the closer our eyes are to the light source. Children have shorter arms and therefore receive a more intense dose of blue light from devices. A child should hold their device as far away from their eyes as is comfortable. Adults are encouraged to hold devices at arm’s length.
Lower the Screen’s Brightness
Turn down the brightness level of digital device screens, especially during the evening hours, to reduce your child’s amount of blue light is exposure.
For more information about digital eye strain and blue light, download The Vision Council’s Eyes Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma to read the 2016 digital eye strain report and visit VSP’s website to learn more about protecting your family’s eyes. VSP can also be found on Twitter (@VSPVisonCare) and on Facebook as VSP Vision Care.
This is part of a sponsored post series with VSP. All opinions are my own.