Interactive flat panels as well as other digital screen technology and electronic devices are a source of strong blue light waves that are hazardous to a student’s vision and overall health.
The eyes are essential to learning. They help the brain retain information and decipher communication cues that are necessary for collaboration. But as the modest schoolhouse blackboard gives way to interactive flat panels (IFPs) as the new gold standard for increasing engagement and success in the classroom, prioritizing eye health is more important than ever before. IFPs as well as other digital screen technology and electronic devices are a source of strong blue light waves that are hazardous to students’ eyes and overall health.
On the lighting spectrum, blue light sits right next to the familiar UV rays that are produced by the sun and other powerful light sources. UV rays are invisible electromagnetic rays, the harmful effects of which can easily be prevented by slipping on a pair of sunglasses. Blue light, however, is short, high-energy visible (HEV) wavelengths. Because the rays are shorter, they flicker more frequently than UV rays causing glare that reduces visual contrast and sharpness.
While blue light can be beneficial in small doses — helping regulate the body’s wake and sleep cycles, moods, energy, memory, and attention — in excess, it causes eyestrain, headaches, physical and mental fatigue. The shorter HEV rays penetrate the eye more deeply than a UV ray and prolonged exposure has been linked to retinal damage and macular degeneration. But that’s not all. According to a study published by Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, exposure to blue light may increase the risk of cancer.
Consumers are taking notice of the importance of shielding their eyes from blue light and the mobile device world has responded by touting the benefits of putting away devices and even created a night mode that switches off hazardous blue light. Unfortunately, screen use in the classroom is only increasing as the benefits of interactivity and collaboration proliferates, greatly magnified by the incidence of virtual learning as a result of the COVID-19 virus.
To understand blue light, you first have to understand the science of eyesight. Eyes are the windows to the environment. Because of eyesight, the brain can collect, understand, and store information. This process first begins when light enters the eye. The pupil and iris widen and constrict, depending on the amount of light present, which then travels through the lens and the cornea. The lens and cornea focus the light onto the back of the eye where the retina — the area of the eye at risk for damage from blue light emissions — resides and is translated into color information. From there, the brain takes over to tell the person what they’re looking at. Healthy eyes are essential for this to happen and for allowing students to be engaged and work most efficiently and productively in the classroom.
Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a new set of guidelines regarding children and screen time, advising children under five years old to spend no more than one hour in front of screens and infants under one to have no screen time.
A study from the American Academy of Ophthalmology indicates a combination of factors that has led to higher instances of vision problems, such as the disturbance in circadian rhythms caused by blue light and fewer children being outside. Students have now attempted to combat that blue light with dimming screens, setting screens to night mode, or using computer glasses which block out the blue light hazing from computer screens. If you want to protect your child from blue light, whether they get under an hour of exposure a day or 80% of their waking hours in front of a screen, frames with specialty lenses can help.
At Hillmoor Optical, our Hoya BlueControl lenses are proven to significantly reducing blue light transmission from computers and digital devices, resulting in more comfortable vision and improved concentration. Whether your student is attending class or studying virtually, we’re here to help them succeed by keeping their eyes healthy and focused. Call us at 772-337-6377, or go to our Contact Page to make an appointment to have your student’s eyes checked and outfitted with proper eye wear to accommodate extended periods behind the computer.
Sources: Tech & Learning / CU Independent / Romper
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