By Denis Langlois

It’s well known that children are at greater risk than adults of suffering internal eye damage from the ultra-violet rays of the sun.

But there’s another threat to children’s vision that is now dominating the headlines – the cumulative impact on the eyes of blue light from computer screens, cell phones, tablets and the sun.

The Canadian Association of Optometrists says human exposure to blue light is on the rise. Almost all blue light reaches the retina and too much exposure can cause sleep problems, eye strain, headaches, irritability as well as more serious problems like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

“A child’s crystalline lens is more transparent to short wavelengths – such as blue light – than that of an adult, making children more sensitive to blue light effects than adults,” says the association, which is the national voice of optometry in Canada and represents about 85 per cent of all Canadian optometrists.

A recent report by the Vision Council found that 76.5 per cent of people reported their children, under the age of 18, get more than two hours of screen time each day. And there are indications that those numbers are on the rise.

To protect children’s vision, several optical companies have developed lenses that can block or filter out all or a portion of ultra-violet and/or blue light.

Recently, Nikon launched a new single-vision lens that provides full protection from both UV and blue light.

Juveo lenses, which Nikon says were inspired by the importance of safeguarding children’s visual health, are exclusively available with both Transitions and SeeCoat Blue UV coating.

“We are always mindful about the importance of visual protection, particularly children’s visual health. It’s imperative to shine light on the fact that even though kids spend more time outdoors than adults, their eyes are most often not protected from UV rays or blue light. All kids and teenagers should be protected, even those who don’t need vision correction,” says Chantal Gravel, product marketing manager at Nikon Optical Canada.

“With Juveo, we are offering a simple, easy and practical solution for parents and eye care professionals to protect kid’s visual health.”

The lenses allow kids to wear the same glasses both indoors and out, thanks to the Transitions technology.

“The great thing is that the new Nikon Juveo lenses will be offered exclusively with Transitions Adaptive lenses technology and Nikon’s SeeCoat Blue UV anti-reflective coating, which means that they can be worn all day, every day,” says Patience Cook, director, North America marketing, Transitions Optical.

“Parents can be rest assured that Transitions lenses help protect their children’s eyes from the sun’s UV rays and help to protect against harmful blue light from digital devices, screens and especially the bright sun.”

The lenses are also scratch-resistant, anti-reflective and boast anti-static and oleophobic properties.

The full UV protection provided by the lenses is especially important for children, especially when keeping in mind the World Health Organization’s estimate that 80 per cent of a person’s lifetime exposure to damaging UV radiation occurs before age 18.

“Since the crystalline lens in children’s eyes are less capable to filter UV than adults, they are at a greater risk of internal eye damage. This includes cataracts and macular degeneration, later in life,” the Canadian Association of Optometrists says.

Centennial Optical also offers lenses that block both UV and high-energy visible light.

The Canadian company’s CHOICE BluSelect polycarbonate lenses are a good choice for children and other wearers with active lifestyles since they provide high-impact protection and lightweight comfort, according to Rick Leroux, director of marketing and communications.

The lenses are also available in 1.50, 1.56 1.60, 1.67 and 1.74 indexes.

“The importance of protecting our eyes from invisible ultraviolet rays is well known. Recent scientific studies have demonstrated the need for effective protection from HEV light, particularly the blue-violet part of the spectrum. CHOICE BluSelect lenses selectively filter this highest energy visible light to protect against UV and HEV light to 420 nanometers and beyond,” Leroux says.

CHOICE BluSelect lenses are virtually clear lenses and are fully compatible with anti-reflection coatings. For indoor wear, they are ideal for students dealing with prolonged exposure to sources of HEV light, from fluorescent and LED lighting to the HEV light emitted by the digital screens with which they are increasingly spending their schooldays, Centennial says.

CHOICE BluSelect polycarbonate lenses are available in finished single vision with HMC Ultra AR coating as well as in semi-finished single vision and digitally customized CHOICE and Persona office and progressive lenses.

Hoya Vision Care Canada, meanwhile, offers Phoenix 1.53 lenses for children, which boast 100 per cent UVA and UVB protection and can be combined with the company’s coatings such as Recharge to filter harmful blue light waves.

The Phoenix lenses are 60 times more impact-resistant than standard plastic and are made with the lightest lens material available today. They are also twice as scratch resistant as polycarbonate.

The Recharge coating filters 10 to 30 per cent of harmful blue light waves emitted by electronic devices, Hoya says. That type of protection can help alleviate eyestrain, headaches, fatigue and blurred vision and improve sleeping patterns.

The coating also eliminates reflections, repels dirt and dust and provides superior scratch resistance.