By Sarah McGoldrick
We spend countless hours in front of the computer screen. All this time focusing and refocusing can take a huge toll on the health of our eyes.
The blue light emitted from our computer screen, phones or other hand held devices can cause eye strain and headaches.
Medicine is just beginning to understand the effects of long-term exposure to blue light and the eyecare industry is developing new technology to ensure technology enthusiasts and regular computer users are protected.
“With the huge increase in the usage of digital devices, as well as energy efficient lighting, we are all surrounded by more blue light than ever before,” said Tibor Martz, Technical Assistance Group Director, Nikon Optical Canada Inc. “This technology is not going away. With an increase in research showing that cumulative or prolonged exposure can impact both your vision and your visual health—it’s important that we find a way to safely interact in our new digital reality.”
Blue light is a type of ultra-violet light (UV) that range from 380nm to 200 nm and can also be found in devices such as sterilization equipment. Martz noted that research is revealing a real concern for visual health as more and more time is spent in front of screens.
He said Nikon high index lenses already protect against UVA, UVB and UVC, however the company has been developing further technology to address blue light exposure.
“Nikon developed SeeCoat Blue: the first & only clear lens coating in Canada that filters harmful blue light to optimize contrasts, reduce eye strain and, most importantly, help protect your visual health,” he said adding most people are now familiar with blue blockers found in optical shops and even big box stores.
These have an orange tint and are designed using similar materials as sunglasses.
He said people are spending far more time indoors and are increasingly exposed to artificial light.
“SeeCoat Blue was specifically developed with this changing lifestyle in mind. SeeCoat Blue is not a tint, instead it’s an advanced clear lens AR coating with a blue light filter.
Modern artificial light emits peaks of HEV light (or blue light) at around 450nm, and this is where SeeCoat Blue is most effective,” he said adding the lens reduces eyestrain associated with digital device usage, so you can work for long hours in greater comfort.
It is important for eyecare providers to convey the dangers of blue light and the over use of digital devices to their patients from an early age. Children in particular are now being submitted to blue light exposure in far greater numbers than previous generations.
“Most blue light can have a devastating effect on your eye’s health. Since its energy level is very high compared to other types of light, it is one of the sources of premature ageing for the eye, which can lead to macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts,” said Alexandre Goulet, Brand Manager—Sunwear & Xperio with Essilor. “Customers should also be worried because while blue light comes from the sun, it also comes from another source we are increasingly subject to such as LED screens, which you can find on the cell phone, computer or tablet that many of us are using every day for increasingly long periods of time,” Goulet said adding people should not fear blue light but rather take steps to control their exposure to it. He said the light is not harmful enough that contact should be avoided all together.
“It would be a mistake to think that all blue light is harmful and that we need to block it off completely.
Within some wavelengths, it can actually have some positive effects on our health since it regulates our biological clock,” he said.
Essilor has actively developed a range of products that help clients block both UV and blue light including the soon-to-be-launched Crizal Prevencia, which are the first lenses in the world to block both UV and harmful blue light.
The company has been working for several years on the project at the Institut de la Vision in Paris, France.
These teams put together a scientific protocol that had never been seen before in order to identify which blue light wavelengths were harmful to our eyes.
“After two years of development, our research and development teams have enabled us to market a new type of preventative lenses with the exclusive Light Scan technology, which lets through beneficial blue light, eliminates harmful UV and blue light rays and preserves the transparency of the lens,” said Goulet.
According to Goulet a stronger effort must be made on the part of the industry and health care professionals to continue to develop new technology to address what will only be growing use of blue light emitting devices.
He noted blue light is in part responsible for the 350 million people worldwide who suffer from AMD and cataracts, and this is likely to double within the next thirty years with the aging of the population.
“With new innovations we can see that Essilor not only focuses its efforts on lens protection, but also to eye protection. This is imperative in our mission to help seeing the world better,” he said. “This is why Essilor invests more in research and development than any other ophthalmic lens manufacturer out there, exploring new innovative ways to fulfill our mission.”
Centennial Optical has introduced BluTech Lenses to Canada, a new lens technology developed by Eye Solutions, Inc. which filters harmful blue and UV light. BluTech Lenses technology was developed due to the growing evidence that constant exposure to harmful blue and UV wavelength light increases the risk of AMD. Studies have also shown that exposure to blue light can disrupt sleep patterns by suppressing melatonin.
“We are exposed to more high-energy blue light both indoors and out than ever before,” said David Israel, Chief Operating Officer of Eye Solutions, Inc. “BluTech Lenses provide the protection needed to guard the macula from oxidative stress and a lifetime of exposure from damaging blue light.”
The lenses are made with natural melanin and ocular lens pigment imbedded in the lens material. The company says BluTech Lenses are the first and only eyeglass lenses to have a medical benefit.
BluTech Lenses are designed to maintain natural colour vision and improve contrast sensitivity, making them ideal for everyday wear. The lenses are available in both indoor and outdoor versions. BluTech indoor lenses have a slight tint and protect the eyes from dangerous blue light given off by fluorescent and CFC light bulbs and digital devices.
The outdoor lenses are polarized with 80% light absorption to eliminate glare, and they protect against blue light and UV radiation emitted by the sun.
This changing face of technology is something the team at HOYA has also been actively addressing.
As technology users move away from relying on computers alone to receive information, there will be a sharp increase in the number of handheld devices. This means information can be carried in a pocket or purse and checked more frequently.
“With modern devices we are using technology in ways we didn’t years ago,” said David Pietrobon, President/General Manager of HOYA Care Canada.
He said lenses need to be developed that support the wearer’s eye concerns and allow them to complete all their digital tasks.
“We are now looking at AR coatings to help offset the impact of high energy visible light,” said Pietrobon.
The recently released Recharge glasses have an AR coating to reduce high energy visible light. This protects against glare and offers enhanced contrasts.
Nulux Active provides enhanced support for the everyday demands of focusing and refocusing at various distances, a requirement for today’s visually dynamic wearer using today’s modern devices. The Nulux Active 8 has a front surface radial aspherical design with a vertical aspherical zone or area in the bottom part of the lens.
“Our goal is to provide comfort so the client forgets they are wearing them,” said Maria Petruccelli, Director of Professional Business for HOYA Care Canada.
She adds the company is always looking for innovative applications to complement eyecare providers’ prescriptions.