To continue our topic on blue light, we know that spending a lot of time exposed to it can have negative side effects not only on our ocular health, but also on our bodies as a whole. So we’ve come up with solutions to protect our eyes, because realistically our jobs require us to spend long hours on a computer and that’s not changing anytime soon.
Say you’ve invested in blue-blocking coatings and still experience eye strain after being on the computer for a certain amount of time. “You said these coatings would help reduce the eye strain by blocking the blue light! Why do my eyes still feel tired?” Simply put, this is because the eye muscles used for focusing in your eyes are tired. Think of it this way, would you be able to hold a squat for 8 hours a day? Probably not – so why would you expect your eye muscles to do the same? Just like every other muscle in the body, the eye muscles used for focusing have limitations and tire out once they’ve reached that threshold. However, unlike other muscles in the body, you cannot “work out” the eye muscles and make them “stronger”. Unfortunately, these muscles have a sort of “set maximum capability” which is determined when we’re young and the strongest when we are young. Every year we get older these muscles are actually weakening. The amount of time they can focus things in for and how close they can focus things in decreases every year until eventually they don’t work at all.
Before the age of computers, we would only notice this once we hit the ripe age of 40+. That’s usually the time when our eyes notice it the most – that the eye muscles no longer function as well and we need reading glasses. This was very typical and something we all sort of expected to happen eventually as that’s just how the eyes age. Now that a lot more people are working in front of computers for 8+ hours a day, I’m finding a lot more patients requiring reading glasses before 40. What’s happening is we’re over-using our eye muscles and they’re weakening at a faster rate than before. As mentioned earlier, the eye muscles for focusing have a cap on their capabilities. Some people have stronger muscles and some people have weaker ones. The more we use them the faster they weaken – which is why people are needing reading glasses before their expected time.
In addition to prescribing blue-blocking lenses, I’ve started prescribing computer prescriptions with the coating to help alleviate computer eye strain. Computer prescriptions help to relax the eye muscles by doing half the work for them – they bring the focus closer to you so your eye muscles don’t have to do it. This way my patients are able to spend long hours on the computer without feeling the strain and fatigue while still protecting their eyes from the harmful blue light. I recommend people who spend more than 4 hours a day (consistent hours) on a computer to invest in a pair even if they don’t feel the symptoms to help preserve their eye muscles and protect their eyes. Be aware that distance vision will not look so great in these glasses so remember to take them off if you leave your desk.
There are a couple of different options for computer glasses – having a single vision computer lens or having a therapeutic lens. Therapeutic lenses differ in the sense that they have your distance prescription on the top half of the lens have have a relaxation or computer prescription on the bottom half of the lens. For individuals that work with a dual monitor (or more) system, I recommend having a dedicated pair of glasses for the computer because the entire lens can be used to look through rather than just a portion (which may not be enough). Single vision computer lenses also work well for people that don’t need to change focus points throughout the day – it’s just the computer for majority of the day. Therapeutic lenses work well for individuals that only need to use one monitor (like myself). I simply look through the bottom half of my lenses when working on a computer and that way any time I’m focusing up close I have a slight prescription that helps bring in the focus for me. I tend to need to look far away and then up close a lot so having a single vision lens would not work well for me. If you are unable to adjust your monitor so that you are looking down slightly at it, therapeutics are not a good idea since the computer prescription portion is only on the bottom half. These lenses are also known as mini-progressives so they’re a great stepping stone for moving into progressive lenses (if you’re not sure what progressives are, that will be another discussion for another blog post).
So I think we’ve thoroughly covered the whole blue-light-and-computers-are-bad-but-we-need-them topic and learned how to continue using devices while keeping our eyes protected. Hopefully you guys find these blogs informative and interesting – please let us know if there’s anything you’re curious about! Who knows, maybe it’ll be our next topic.