In the USA, adults spend on average more than 10 hours a day in front of a screen and with the pandemic, this average has only increased. Today, almost everything can and is done online. People can shop, make appointments, attend classes, and read books with one device, but this technological advancement has some downsides.
Emily Conroy, a senior media arts and design graduate, said her doctor suggested excessive screen time might make her migraines worse. Emily also reported other symptoms like dry eyes and poor sleep, common among those who spend a lot of time staring at screens.
“I’ve tried sitting down and taking breaks and it helps some, but unfortunately with the amount of screen time required every day at school and work, these methods can’t do much,” Conroy said.
According to The American Optometric Association, eye discomfort, lack of sleep and headaches are common symptoms of digital eye strain.
The same source indicates that digital eye strain is a generic term for visual impairment or discomfort due to prolonged use of a screen. the blue light from screens, whether it’s a phone, computer, or other device, is close to ultraviolet light on the electromagnetic spectrum, suggesting that prolonged use of a screen may have adverse effects. oculars similar to those of sunlight.
In addition, macular degeneration, a serious condition that can lead to permanent visual impairment, can occur from excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, especially during puberty. While macular degeneration is more often an age-related problem, lens makers have advertised blue-light blocking glasses as a potential preventative measure people can take to reduce eye strain.
Research has shown a positive relationship between screen use and eye strain, but in reality, this relationship is not strong enough to warrant serious concern. According to Harvard Medical School, screens do not produce enough blue light to cause significant long-term damage, such as macular degeneration.
At worst, screen use disrupts the circadian rhythm, making it harder to sleep at night, but a study of National Library of Medicine found that blue light blocking lenses capable of filtering out 100% of blue light were ineffective in reducing eye strain and negative effects on sleep. Most blue light blocking lenses on the market today only block about 20% blue light.
A similar study of American Journal of Ophthalmology (AJO) concluded that there was no significant difference between blue light blocking glasses and regular glasses in reducing symptoms of digital eye strain.
Blue light filters can range from around $20 to a few hundred dollars, but none support long-term visual acuity or improve sleep, as many lens manufacturers have falsely advertised. according to the AJO.
Not all companies got away with such publicity. In 2017, Opticians Boots, a UK-based company that heavily advertised blue light blocking glasses, was fined $45,774 for misleading claims published in Time Magazine that blue light blocking filters could prevent eye diseases.
The claim was not supported by evidence, nor were other companies’ claims about their lenses. With extensive research suggesting that blue light filters don’t work in the first place, more companies should have come under scrutiny, not just those touting its miraculous health benefits.
Even simple claims, like how it reduces eye strain, need to be evaluated.
Companies that make unsubstantiated claims are engaging in predatory behavior that has a significant impact on students in particular.
Young adults, especially college students, spend more time using screens than other age groups, but tend to have less reliable sources of income. Corporations take advantage of real health issues to make money for those who can least afford it.
Instead of buying blue light filters, research shows that other methods are much more effective in promoting eye health and good sleep habits. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends keeping screens at arm’s length, avoiding them an hour before bed, and taking an occasional break.
More importantly, if a person is concerned about their eye health, they should contact an optometrist who does not also sell glasses, as they may have a financial incentive to recommend blue light blocking glasses.
Mia Hazeldine-Ross is an international business major. Contact Mia at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more editorials regarding the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the Opinion Bureau on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Opinion.