Glowing Rectangles

I’m Brian Abert, O.D., and I founded Thornton, CO-based Vista Eye Care in 2010. I don’t often quote The Onion when it comes to discussions of eye health, but this headline from ten years ago struck me as exceptionally poignant to our industry: “Report: 90% Of Waking Hours Spent Staring At Glowing Rectangles.”  Glowing rectangles.  That’s a fun way to explain that between tablets, laptops, LCD monitors, smartphones, smartwatches, and television, we spend a disturbing chunk of our lives fixated on the focal plane of a light-emitting LCD panel.  We don’t read books, do homework, or pay bills anymore – we stare into LCD screens.  When The Onion playfully created that headline ten years ago, the LCD screen epidemic was just getting started.  Certainly this screen time is anything but natural, right?  And since logically, our eyes didn’t evolve to endure the gentle glow of our little rectangles, shouldn’t we take some basic steps to protect them?

FROM SCREENS TO SLEEP

Our screens leech blue light into our lives, destabilizing our sleep cycles and baking our eyes with oxidizing radiation.  I tell patients that a day of staring at the screen probably won’t cause irreversible damage to the macula, but a career worth of screen-staring probably will.  And is there anyone in today’s high-paced world that gets enough sleep?  We know that blue light disturbs the quality of the sleep we get, so we can blame that portion of the spectrum for causing vision loss later in life, as well as sleep loss today.

We are so fortunate that lens technology is here to counter the screen technology that exists so universally in our lives.  I can’t tell you how many young patients we have seen with eye strain that have benefited so much from wearing Shamir’s Relax lens, or how many emerging presbyopes have received relief from wearing a Shamir’s Autograph Intelligence.  And, by the way, isn’t an “emerging presbyope” just a patient with accommodative insufficiency that we never bothered to prescribe a progressive lens to?  Shamir’s product line includes industry-leading technologies not just in blue light protection (Shamir’s Blue Zero), but also maintaining a comfortable focus at the distances we use.  Combining the best in lens designs with the latest in material technology makes for a winning combination that our patients need.

FLOSSING, SUNSCREEN…AND BLUE LIGHT

At this point, blue light awareness is a topic that has received a lot of attention.  It is important to appreciate that while the eye care community is intimately familiar with eye disease prevention (of course short wavelength light causes oxidation of ocular tissues!), this may not be as obvious to our patients.  Do you think dentists get tired of telling patients to floss?  Do you think dermatologists get tired of reminding patients to apply sunscreen?  Heck no!  It is their job to convey their knowledge to the patients in order to better the quality of those patient’s lives.  We need to adopt this philosophy in regard to short wavelength light when it comes to our patient’s quality of life and preventative eye health.

Our use of technology isn’t going to level off any time soon, and with our exposure to screens comes a risk of eye disease and at best, poor sleep.  We can help our patients live better lives by offering them blue-blocking lens materials and carefully considering how they use their eyes during their work and hobbies.  Technology has given us glowing rectangles that have changes our lives, probably for the better.  Lens material technology from Shamir has allowed us to adapt what we prescribe to benefit our patient’s comfort and long-term eye health, and our patients deserve our time explaining this to them.

Erinn Morgan