Why Computer Screens Can Negatively Affect Your Eyes— And What You Can Do About It

Imagine a world where smart phones and personal computers do not exist. Where, instead of using Uber Eats to deliver your next meal, you had to actually go out to a restaurant. Where, instead of always having your phone with you, it is hooked to a wall. Where something called “Facetime” only existed on Star Trek.
Does this world seem completely weird and super-inconvenient? Well, NOW it does. But the landscape we’ve just described was exactly how the average person lived until only the past ten years or so.

Why Progress Has Been So Hard on Your Eyes

If you’re thinking “thank God for technological progress,” we completely agree! But, as Nashville’s leading optometrists, we also see, each and every day, the price our customers’ eyes have paid for technological advances—because they constantly stare at computers and/or smart phone screens. In fact, some of the most common eye issues experienced by our patients are often related to it.
Do you ever experience any of the following symptoms? If so, they may be a direct result of excessive use of computer or laptop screens, smart phone screens, etc. These symptoms can include each of the following, or a combination of them:

• Dry eyes
• Burning eyes
• Headaches
• Fatigued eyes
• General fatigue

And, unfortunately, these symptoms aren’t the only negative side effects of extensively looking at screens. There may also be a connection to macular degeneration (which is damage to a part of your eye’s retina).

The Culprit: Blue Light

So what’s going on here? What causes these symptoms? Research has concluded that it’s the so-called “blue light” generated by today’s various digital devices. Blue light is defined as a range of the visible light spectrum that has a wavelength between 400 and 495 nanometers. This wavelength means that blue light is a type of high-energy visible light, and its negative impact is being more and more noted because its sources are increasingly common in today’s world. Your exposure to blue light comes from a wide variety of technologies (including older ones such as television and light bulbs), but the advent of personal computers and smart phones has put the commonality of blue light exposure on steroids.

How Blue Light Can Cause Sleep Problems

While tired, dry, and/or strained eyes alone are no fun to deal with, there is another even more potentially hazardous and damaging result of constant staring at a computer or smart phone screen—sleep problems and/or deprivation. This is especially true if you stare at your computer or smart phone during the hours leading up to bedtime. And the REASON it’s true is that the blue light from your screen causes decreased melatonin in your brain—a significant cause of insomnia, fitful sleep, and a generally “messed up” sleep cycle (circadian rhythm). This lack of sound, restful sleep can, in turn, lead to further health problems. The latest medical research has linked decreased melatonin—and the lack of sleep it causes—to a number of other health problems, from cardio-metabolic issues to an impaired immune system.

The Solution We Recommend and Use Ourselves— Blue light filtering lenses

Here at Optique, we like to “walk the talk” when it comes to the entire spectrum of eye care solutions we recommend to our customers. That means, if we recommend a particular solution for something affecting your eyes, you can safely bet we ourselves use that solution.
That’s exactly the case regarding the solution to the blue-light-caused problems we’ve been discussing. In this case, that’s why every single one of our staff members now uses Blue light filtering lenses. Over time, we’ve seen that our staff AND customers have wonderfully benefited from its exceptional effectiveness.
Shamir Blue Zero™ is the most effective lens treatment (coating) that provides protection from blue light and the many problems it can cause. Based on a unique formula that took many years to perfect, this treatment blocks up to 98 percent of the blue light typically emanating from a screen. And while the percentage of blue light blocked can vary due to the specific thickness of your lens, on average Shamir Blue Zero™ blocks up to 3 times more harmful blue light than does a standard clear lens. We know of one major insurance company that now covers Blue light filtering lenses, and we believe others likely will follow. (We suggest you ask if yours does.)

A Final Word About the Kids

If you are a parent or grandparent caring for children, it’s important for you to know that children’s eyes are particularly vulnerable to damage from blue light, because the lenses of their eyes are more transparent. So be sure to ask about blue light filtering lens treatment for kids, too. You’ll be helping them protect their precious vision as they continue to grow up in our constantly-changing digital world.

More About Dr. Michele Sonsino
Dr. Michele Sonsino was born in Tokyo, Japan, the daughter of an Air Force officer and his wife. She studied biology, communications, and sociology at the University of Illinois and earned her Doctor of Optometry degree from the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago. While in optometry school, Dr. Sonsino also pursued her clinical education at the University of Chicago and the Veterans Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. She had particular training in pediatrics and contact lenses.

For years, she split her practice in two locations: a trendy downtown Chicago optical, learning the art of boutique-style eyecare, and in the south side of Chicago, working with disadvantaged patients in the diagnosis and treatment of ocular diseases.
Dr. Sonsino brought these varied experiences to Nashville and introduces a new concept in eyecare: Optique. She is recognized by her colleagues as a leader in pediatric optometry, anterior segment, cataract evaluation and specialty contact lens fitting, such as options for astigmatism and “mature” eyes. Dr. Sonsino is a member of the American Optometric Association and Tennessee Optometric Association.