Dr. Jim Martin 07/19/2016

school-children-on-phones.pngBlue light has become quite the hot topic in the past few years. Blue light is generated by the sun, digital devices, fluorescent lights and other sources. One would think that light created from these sources would not be harmful. Yet extended exposure to blue light really can damage the eyes. Children are especially vulnerable to blue light.

The Problem With Blue Light

Minimal exposure to blue light won't negatively impact the eyes. However, those who use electronic devices on a regular basis might suffer eye damage across posterity. Prolonged exposure to blue light damages the eyes' retinal cells. In the worst case scenario, it can lead to macular degeneration and blindness.

Kids' Screen Time

Consider the daily routine of the average child. He wakes, showers and eats breakfast in front of the TV or computer. He then goes to school where he uses computers throughout the day. When he returns home, he hops right back onto the computer or TV for video games or broadcasted content. This incredible amount of screen time leads to extensive exposure to blue light.

Blue Light and Children

Children are particularly vulnerable to blue light. Their young eyes have not matured to the point where protective pigments have developed to filter out the harmful blue light emitted from screens and other sources. Little ones who spend a good amount of time in front of screens might suffer retinal damage.

Furthermore, these kids will likely lack melatonin due to the fact that blue light decreases the amount of melatonin produced in the brain. Melatonin is a critically important hormone that regulates the body's sleep and wake cycles. If an insufficient amount of melatonin is produced in the brain, the child (and adults) will not be able reach the deep REM sleep that is necessary for a truly refreshing period of rest. A lack of deep sleep can lead to all sorts of problems, especially in children. Some perform poorly in school while others have behavioral issues or gain weight.

Possible Solutions

Aside from limiting children's screen time, parents can also proactively take steps to decrease their kids' exposure to blue light. Your kids don't have to go cold turkey on screens. Rather, they should take an hour break in between screen sessions. Encourage them to take walks, read books, play sports and engage in non-screen activities. There are also various forms of eye protection available to boot. Special lenses like those made by Crizal and Eyezen can limit upwards of 20 percent of blue light that reaches the eyes.

If you need help protecting your child’s eyes, contact Broome Optical today to schedule aback-to-school appointment.

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