One of the hottest topics trending in the Optical﷯ industry currently is The Digital World. Easy to understand with the fast-paced developments of digital devices and the technology industry. Did you know that in 2013 the number of mobile connected devices exceeded the world’s population? Smartphones, tablets and GPS systems have become part of everyday life for most people. Out of people aged 30-49 in the uk… 75% are smartphone users, 63% spend 5 or more hours a day using digital devices, 29% have a tablet or e-book reader And these stats just keep on growing, as seen in the diagram above. New challenges for the human eye The frequent use of digital mobile devices is challenging for the human eye. Looking at digital screens, the number of daily cycles switching from far to near vision and back has increased considerably. This is very demanding on the ciliary muscle of the eye and – with diminishing accommodation (focusing) capabilities – can lead to blurred vision, tired or dry eyes and neck strains. 
Today's major influencers which can negatively impact clear and healthy vision are: Time in the sun without protection Lack of lighting Spending long periods of time doing tasks which require your vision Internet surfing Using visual electronics People are starting to make the connection between UV protection for both their skin and their eyes. In contrast, the hazards of blue light radiation from digital devices (just as important as UV radiation) are much less recognised as it is still an emerging topic, hence the lack of awareness. So let’s shed some light on it...
The Blues Blue light is part of the visible spectrum – it is made up of the wavelengths perceived as the colours violet-blue to light blue. There are three important blue light concerns: 1. Violet and blue are the shortest, highest energy visible wavelengths and are scattered easily, creating haze that can reduce contrast and affect the sharpness and clarity of what you see. 2. High-energy blue light can cause permanent retinal damage and finally, 3. Many of the newest electronic devices emit significant blue light.
The most concerning of these 3 points is that these blue wavelengths of light have been shown to cause photochemical injury to the retina. This basically causes an oxidation process, which in simple terms prematurely ages cells at the back of the eye. This may be linked to eye disease such as macular degeneration. The Beaver Dam Eye Study showed that those who had high levels of sun exposure from their teens to their late 30s had an increased risk of developing the early changes in Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). This was caused by the UV radiation and also the short wavelength/high energy light at the blue end of the visible spectrum. This is called blue light hazard and these same wavelengths of light that cause this are present in the light emitted from many digital devices. Is all Blue light bad? Well actually, no! Ironically, we need blue light! It is directly linked to our circadian rhythms (the phase our body and mind goes through on a 24-hour basis), it’s what helps us get up in the morning. This is why we sleep better in a completely dark environment (without blue light) and feel much better when we wake up and it’s a lovely sunny day (because the sun’s rays contain blue light.) However, too much of a good thing and too much of anything is bad for you. So just like our eating, drinking and exercise regimes and routines, it’s important to get the balance right with blue light too. We need to have the right amount of blue light at the right times. We didn’t evolve using our iPhones, so this is probably blue light our visual systems can do without!
The Solutions So is there really a need for this digital technology? The reality is that utilizing digital devices for work and leisure has now become the norm; we spend hours and hours on our phones and tablets whether it is work, Facebook or simply playing angry birds. We are now plugged in most of the time and this is a fact that we must accept. It’s a shift in generation and what we are seeing is an age of digital device usage. However it is important to remember that this does have consequences on our vision and thus the quality of our lives. So we have found ways to counteract the negative effects of digital devices, instead of attempting to avoid using digital technology. Here are the 3 main solutions we strongly believe in: Avoid using digital devices for long periods of time. After 1 hour’s continual use of any digital device, take a break from staring at the screen. Look into the distance (away from the screen) and let your eyes rest for at least 2-3 minutes. This should avoid problems associated with digital eyestrain. Stop viewing any digital device screens (TVs, I-pads, mobile phones, tablets) at least 1 hour before going to bed. (This is because the blue light radiation emitted from these devices makes your body think that it is day time and hence, will negatively impact the quality of your sleep.) If you or your children do wear glasses, there is a digital lens and blue light coatings which are eye wear products specifically designed to combat digital eyestrain. We would highly recommend investing in both these features if you wear glasses and use digital devices.
For more information about digital devices and eye care, read Bayfields Opticians’ blogs: The Digital World: 
A touch of the Digital Blues: 
Bayfields Opticians offers digital eye strain consultations as part of Bayfields standard Eye Examinations. To book your eye examination with us, either visit and book online at your nearest practice. Alternatively, give your nearest practice a call: