We previously discussed the frustrations that arise for parents when they read recommendations from medical professionals regarding screen time limits. To fully understand why these limits are so strict despite the fact that they are nearly unobtainable, I’d like to be clear about how blue light gets to our retinas and why it must be filtered and protected against.
Blue light is everywhere.
You may be surprised to know that our main source of blue light is from the sun, similar to the Ultraviolet light (UV) that we have heard about for decades. In addition, although computer screens, phones, and tablets are a smaller contributor to our blue light consumption, the increased amount of time our children are spending on them is causing us a lot of concern as is the proximity of these devices to our children’s faces.
UV light and blue light are filtered by our eyes very differently. To best understand how blue light gets to the part of our eye to cause damage, I like to use an example that will resonate with most parents of teens.
Your teenager enters a room. At the opposite end of that room is the door to their bedroom. They are greeted by a large group of their best friends. The teen pauses, chats, laughs, answers questions, and spends a great deal of time with them. In fact, they may never arrive at the opposite end of the room to retreat to the solace of their room.
Your teenager enters the same room. They are greeted by you, their parent, asking them about their day, their homework, their love life, their thoughts on everything. They mumble “fine” and stream very quickly past you without pause to arrive at the door that will allow them access to the solace of their room.
What does this have to do with blue light, you ask? Scenario #1 is how UV reacts when it hits your eye. It is blocked by the cornea and lens, which filter out an amazingly high amount of its damaging rays so that they don’t reach the back of the eye to damage the retina. The remainder can be filtered by UV blocking sunglasses.
Scenario #2 is how blue light reacts when it hits your eye. It streams right back those initial structures and blasts the sensitive and highly susceptible tissues of the retina.
Some blue light is good and essential to our health. Too much can potentially damage retinal structures and will definitely cause eye strain, irritation, blurry vision, and fatigue that derail your child’s ability to best perform at all visual tasks.
In summary, it could be said that devices such as computers, developed to enhance our children’s educational opportunities, also contribute to the reduction in the amount of time they are able to work on them.
Does the irony in that hit you as hard as it does me? Then read my next blog where I explain what you can do to reduce the damage this blue light can cause and best protect your kids. Catch up and read my first blog in this series here if you haven’t already.
In the meantime, learn about EyePromise’s Screen Shield™ Teen eye vitamin that can help protect kids’ eyes from the affects of increased screen time.