Five key facts about blue light in the workplace
In today's digital world, many employees spend a large part of their days with their eyes glued to screens. While modern technology may offer many life and work-related benefits, it could also be negatively impacting our vision.
High-energy visible (HEV) light, also known as "blue light," is an intense light emitted by the sun, CFL and LED lighting, and the screens of electronic devices such as televisions, computers and smart phones. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about blue light though, so it’s important to separate the facts from fiction.
Fact: Blue light is unavoidable in the digitally connected world
Blue light scatters upon entering the eyes. The eyes then work overtime trying to focus this scattered light, which they cannot do. All that work can contribute to eye strain. The Vision Council reports that many individuals suffer physical eye discomfort after screen use for more than two hours at a time.
The council's survey of almost 10,000 Americans found nearly 90 percent use digital devices for more than two hours per day, and more than half report using two digital devices simultaneously. One in ten respondents said they spend more than 75 percent of their waking hours looking at a digital device.
Fact: Exposure to blue light can lead to digital eye strain
The American Academy of Ophthalmology confirms that overexposure to digital devices can cause an array of short-term eye problems. While humans typically blink an average of 15 times per minute, that number is reduced to half when using digital devices.
Respondents to the Vision Council’s survey reported experiencing a number of common symptoms, including eye strain (31 percent), dry eyes (22 percent), headaches (22.6 percent), blurred vision (22.1 percent) and neck and shoulder pain (30.1 percent).
Fact: Blue light effects can negatively impact employee productivity
Even if blue light doesn't cause permanent damage, vision problems from digital devices can negatively impact worker productivity. Digital eye strain has surpassed carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis as the leading computer-related repetitive strain injury among American workers according to The Vision Council.
One study found eye strain could cause employees to lose up to 15 minutes of working time per day, translating into a loss of more than $2,000 per year per employee. The Vision Council also estimates that vision problems cost American businesses more than $9 billion annually in medical expenses and lost productivity.
Fact: Blue light exposure can be reduced with eyewear
The best action workers can take to reduce digital eye strain is to talk to their eye doctor. An optometrist can help identify the underlying causes of discomfort and provide recommendations for specialized lenses or lens coatings. These lenses or lens coatings can be incorporated into any pair of frames so individuals can find the right options to meet their personal needs and style.
Fact: Employers can help reduce their employees’ exposure to blue light
Employers have a vested interest in reducing eye strain and ensuring their workers have the tools to reduce blue light exposure.
One key step is to ensure workers are aware of the risks of digital eye strain and the importance of talking to their eye care provider. A majority (68.5 percent) of Americans say they have not discussed their use of digital technology with their eye doctor. Most also do not know that eyewear can help reduce the effects of digital eye strain.
Employers can also help by offering comprehensive vision plans that cover anti-reflective coatings and specialized lenses. VSP's TechShield™ Blue offers an advanced blue light defense in a premium anti-reflective coating, which absorbs and reflects blue light, reduces glare, minimizes front and back side reflectance, and blocks UV. It can be applied to any prescription or non-prescription lens and can reduce blue light exposure by as much as 85 percent at its peak.
To learn more about VSP’s comprehensive vision plans, visit getvsp.com/breakthroughs.