Updated: Jul 25
The Importance of Glasses During a Pandemic
Author: Grace Gillis
As the world marks six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, screens have become critical to the function of society. In accordance with physical distancing measures, everything from education to entertainment has been heavily dependent on technology such as phones, laptops, tablets, and televisions . Between February and April of 2020 alone, global internet traffic increased by 40% compared to the same time period in 2019 . Some broadband networks even reported double the internet usage, particularly in upstream traffic such as video conferencing, social network livestreams, and uploads .
Increased screen time means increased eye strain, leaving some health professionals concerned about the development of computer vision syndrome (CVS) . Looking at a screen for long periods of time reduces the frequency of the blinking reflex, leading to eye aches, pain and fatigue, dry or “sandy” eyes, and blurred vision . Furthermore, artificial light from the screen shifts the circadian rhythm, suppressing sleep-promoting melatonin and enhancing alertness, making it difficult to fall asleep .
Introducing: blue light glasses, otherwise known as Blue IQ. The eyewear has emerged as a best-selling item, promising to filter the blue light coming from screens and subsequently relieve the uncomfortable symptoms that result from prolonged screen time . The light produced by screens consists of short-wave blue light on the spectrum of colours visible to the human eye, measuring between 400-500 nanometers (nm) . It is believed that peak light damage occurs at a wavelength of approximately 440nm . Manufacturers of blue light glasses claim that their coated lenses effectively filter or partially block blue light from passing through . In some cases, the glasses are tinted yellow or orange and work in reflecting the light . This ultimately reduces glare, and allows eyes to focus on a screen without straining .
Testimonials from buyers suggest that blue light glasses dramatically relieve symptoms and allow users to work on their screens more comfortably and for longer periods of time . Despite these claims, there is currently no scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of blue light glasses . Both the College of Optometrists and the American Academy of Ophthalmology do not recommend special eyewear to relieve symptoms of CVS. Instead, they offer ergonomic strategies to protect eyes from screens, which include :
Sitting about 25 inches (arm’s length) from the computer screen and position the screen so you are gazing slightly downward;
Reducing screen glare by using a matte screen filter if needed;
Taking regular breaks using the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds;
When your eyes feel dry, use eye drops to refresh them;
Adjusting your room lighting and try increasing the contrast on your screen to reduce eye strain; and
If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes a break by wearing your glasses.
It is important to do your research before opting into any trends, including increasing the price of your glasses purchase by including the Blue IQ add-in. Nonetheless, there are no currently known harmful effects to wearing blue light glasses, whether effective or not . Consider the mentioned changes, and take the protection of your eye-health in your own hands.
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Header Image by Scott Van Daalen .@scottvd from Unsplash
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