Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Blue light from too much screen time can cause eye strain; special glasses can help

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Like so many of us, Paige Andersen spends most of the day in front of a computer screen.

“Between email and then dealing with our software, we’re on the computer all the time,” said Andersen.

But a few months ago, her eyes started giving her issues.

“My eyes just kind of were getting tired and then when I would look at the monitor, the words just maybe aren’t as crisp and clear as they used to be,” said Andersen.

Andersen made an appointment with optometrist Dr. Gregory Hill and was surprised to learn that blue light emitted from her computer screen was part of the problem.

“It decreases contrast just because of the wavelength. That type of energy bounces around more. When you’re in an office computer setting, you’re straining to try and overcome that reduced contrast, trying to see more clearly. The other things that happen end up being posture-related, end up being fatigue-related and if you have uncorrected blur, astigmatism, near-sighted things like that -- if you even have alignment issues where your eyes don’t point exactly the correct direction, there’s all kinds of things that contribute to what we now are referring to as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain,” said Dr. Hill.

The solution: computer glasses. Extra power for up-close focus, eye alignment and anti-reflective coating are three areas the computer lenses address.

“The fourth thing is the blue light itself. You can filter out those blue wavelengths that reduce contrast and cause fatigue by using what are called blue blocker tints,” said Dr. Hill.

Andersen says these glasses have made a big difference.

“My eyes, I feel like they’re not getting as tired. It’s just easier to look at the screen and things are just a little bit bigger,” said Dr. Hill.

So how do you know if computer glasses are something you’d benefit from?

“You’d be surprised how much we can put up with for eye strain. Imagine a weightlifter who can bench press 200 pounds, but you ask that same person just to hold 10 pounds above his head all day. That person’s going to get just as tired as someone trying to hold their focus on a computer for hours at a time. If you’re doing these kinds of things daily and you’re having fatigue issues, or maybe just at the end of the day you feel tired after sitting at the office, or you got a headache or your neck hurts, it’s worth sorting out all the possibilities,” said Dr. Hill.

Dr. Hill says your eye health is very important. Even if you have perfect vision, it is still important to have routine eye appointments.

For more information, just call 877-AT-AVERA.