From Backpacks to Blue Light: Tips on Preserving Eye Health in the Back-to-School Hustle
The excitement of going back to school is often accompanied by a flurry of preparations, from shopping for school supplies to adjusting to new routines. However, in our increasingly digital world, another aspect that parents need to be mindful of is the potential for eye strain and blue technology overload in children.
Do you find yourself spending more time in front of your computer? Working from home, remote learning for your kids, texting, social media, TV – we never seem to be able to take a break from technology. The artificial blue light emitted from our smart devices is high-energy and can have some long-term effects on our vision.
Blue light is all around us, there are both natural blue light and artificial blue light. Natural blue light comes from the sun. It is a short wavelength of visible blue light and high in energy. Artificial blue light, also a short wavelength of visible blue light, is high-energy and remains high all the time. Prolonged exposure to blue light has been shown to damage the retina, the part of the eye that detects qualities such as color and light intensity.
Signs of Blue Technology Overload:
The term “blue technology overload” refers to the excessive use of digital devices that emit blue light, such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and even LED lighting. Blue light has a shorter wavelength and higher energy compared to other visible light, and prolonged exposure can have negative effects on our eyes and sleep patterns.
Do your children mention or complain of the following symptoms?
- Eye Discomfort: One of the most common signs is eye discomfort or strain. Children might complain of dryness, irritation, or a burning sensation in their eyes after extended periods of screen time.
- Digital Eye Strain: Also known as “computer vision syndrome,” this can manifest as headaches, blurred vision, and difficulty focusing on objects at different distances.
- Sleep Disturbances: Exposure to blue light, especially before bedtime, can interfere with the body’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. This can lead to difficulties falling asleep and disrupted sleep patterns.
- Irritability and Fatigue: Too much screen time can contribute to increased irritability and fatigue, affecting your child’s mood and overall well-being.
How to Minimize Blue Light Exposure:
While it might be challenging to eliminate screen time, there are several steps you can take to minimize your child’s exposure to blue light and reduce the risk of eye strain:
- Set Screen Time Limits: Establish clear rules regarding screen time duration. Encourage breaks every 20-30 minutes to give their eyes a rest.
- Use Blue Light Filters: Many devices now offer built-in blue light filters that can be activated to reduce the amount of blue light emitted. Additionally, consider installing screen-filtering apps or software that adjust the color temperature of the display.
- Promote Outdoor Activities: Encourage your child to engage in outdoor activities and spend time away from screens. This not only reduces blue light exposure but also supports their overall physical and mental well-being.
- Create a Device-Free Bedtime Routine: Establish a device-free period at least an hour before bedtime to help your child’s body adjust to the natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Proper Lighting: Ensure that the room where your child uses digital devices has appropriate lighting. Avoid harsh overhead lighting that can contribute to glare on screens.
- Regular Eye Exams: Schedule regular eye exams for your child. An eye care professional can detect early signs of eye strain and provide guidance on maintaining healthy vision.
- Encourage Healthy Habits: Teach your child the importance of the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This helps relax eye muscles.
As the new school year approaches, it’s important to strike a balance between the benefits of technology in education and the potential risks it poses to our children’s eye health and well-being. By understanding the signs of blue technology overload and adopting healthy screen time habits, you can ensure that your child’s back-to-school experience is not only productive but also comfortable and safe for their eyes. For questions about blue light protection and eye strain, call our office at 724-443-6767 or 724-226-0444.
About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening and Saturday appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more Information, visit bisselleyecare.com or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.