“Whether we’re at home, in a classroom, or at the office, our eyes are exposed to more and more blue light in today’s device-driven world,” – VSP optometrist Gary Morgan, OD. “Technology continues to change the way we live and allows us to be more efficient and connected, but even with its benefits, we must be mindful of the impact of increased blue light exposure on our eyes. While medical research continues to study the possible long-term health impacts of blue light, both parents and their children can take practical steps now to reduce their exposure, ease digital eye strain, and maintain good vision.”
In my last post, Five Tips for Protecting Kids from Blue Light, I shared what blue light was and how to protect your kids’ eyes. More recently, VSP Vision Care released survey findings that revealed that the majority of parents are unaware of the blue light emitted from devices and its impact on vision.
Researchers continue to investigate the potential long-term, cumulative effects of blue light exposure, including possible vision loss. Despite its impact on vision, key findings from VSP’s survey of over 1,000 parents show that parents remain largely in the dark about blue light and how it can affect the entire family’s eye health.
By the time the average American child reaches age 17, their eyes will have spent the equivalent of nearly six years looking at digital devices. I was blown away by this amount of time. If they spend 1/3 of their life sleeping, and they spend 1/3 on digital devices, then you’ve only got a third left of possible time to shape your kids into the awesome humans they will be. Make sure you’re armed with the latest info! I’ve included the results of this survey below.
- Parents are unaware of blue light. More than half of parents (58 percent) are either only slightly or not at all aware of blue light and its potentially harmful impacts on vision and overall health. Only 10 percent of parents reported that they had taken steps to reduce their family’s blue light exposure.
- Parents and kids alike attached to tech. Nearly two-thirds of parents think their family spends too much time on digital devices and nearly half of parents (44 percent) went as far as to say their kids are addicted to digital devices. Kids aren’t the only heavy device users of course: Parents reported spending almost half their waking hours looking at screens (about 61 hours per week).
- Eye health is not parents’ top screen time concern. Only 13 percent of parents ranked their family’s vision as the top concern when asked what concerns them most about digital device usage.
- Parents set screen time limits, but find it difficult to enforce. Almost half (49 percent) of parents currently have or used to have limitations on children’s daily device usage, but said those rules aren’t enforced. However, it remains a goal for families around the country as nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of parents think it’s important to unplug from technology.
Tips to Combat Eye Strain
An annual trip to the eye doctor is critical for the entire family. Ask your eye doctor about the best options to help you or your children reduce eye strain, including lenses with coatings that reflect and absorb blue light.
Give your eyes a break every 20 minutes and spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away.
Find a comfortable working distance from your screen. This is especially important for children since the intensity of light increases exponentially the closer our eyes are to the light source. Children have shorter arms and therefore receive a more intense dose of blue light from devices. A child should hold their device as far away from their eyes as is comfortable.
Turn down the brightness level of device screens to reduce the amount of blue light exposure, especially during the evening hours.
Blue light can slow melatonin production, which helps us sleep. Reducing exposure to blue light a couple of hours before bed make it easier to go sleep.
About VSP Global
VSP Global® helps more than 80 million people see better by providing affordable, accessible, high-quality eye care and eyewear. Our complementary businesses combine superior eye care insurance, high-fashion frames, customized lenses, ophthalmic technology and retail solutions. VSP Global businesses, operating in 100 countries in the U.S., Australia, United Kingdom and Ireland, include VSP Vision Care, Marchon® Eyewear Inc., Eyefinity®, VSP Optics Group and VSP Omni-Channel Solutions. As a not-for- profit business, we are committed to bringing vision to those who can’t come to us, and to reimagining how eye care and eyewear are delivered globally.