We’ve discussed the recommendations for screen time and how the harmful blue light gets to our retinas. Now, we can talk about what we can do as parents to reduce the effects of blue light and exposure to our highly sensitive eye structures.
If you’re not a parent of a child or teen, the simplest solution is to reduce screen time. As stated before, this is easier said than done. For our teen population, their entire social network is connected via their digital devices.
The only reduction I’ve seen successfully carried out is a usage-stop-time. For instance, a “turn-in-time” for phones and tablets at least one hour prior to intended bedtimes. A negative blue-light side effect is the disruption of circadian rhythms, which means that it disturbs our sleep patterns. Teens are already known to have odd sleep patterns, but throw in an internal clock disturbance from excessive blue light exposure and they’re destined for daytime fatigue.
If they wear prescription glasses, always be certain to add an anti-glare treatment that includes a blue-light-blocking option. I’ve even noticed an increase in purchases of non-prescription glasses to be worn during computer use for those patients with excellent vision.
Another Layer of Protection
A newer area of focus – and one that I am really excited to see evolve – is that of using eye vitamins to better prepare the macula to handle the onslaught of blue light that is being delivered directly to its sensitive tissues.
The macula is the tiny spot on the retina responsible for all of your central and most detailed vision. In other words, the part of your eye that lets you read your favorite books and recognize your loved ones. The macula contains a pigment layer that absorbs the blue light we’ve all become wary of. The pigment is made up of various substances but mostly a carotenoid called zeaxanthin. The more zeaxanthin in your child’s diet, the denser this pigment layer becomes and the more protection it offers from blue light damage. The problem arises when we realize that zeaxanthin is scarce is the normal U.S. diet.
Luckily, we now have EyePromise® Screen Shield™ Teen. This is a daily chewable vitamin that increases the pigment layer and protects against the negative effects of screen time. It almost sounds too good to be true, but there has been substantial research into the effects of supplementation of zeaxanthin and lutein to increase macular health. This is just the latest product to add to our arsenal.
Personally, I feel better as a doctor and as a parent that I’m arming my patients and own children with the best defense possible with the addition of this supplement daily. It’s just too simple not to implement.