Should my child wear blue blocking glasses for the computer?
I get this question quite often! As science is ever-changing, I thought I'd write an updated answer to this question as a lot of research has come out since my last blog post in 2019 concerning blue light protection.
The short answer to this question is actually no, blue light blockers are not recommended for children under 18.
The long answer is a little more complicated..
Firstly, what is blue light?
Blue light is high energy visible (HEV) light, and there are studies that show this HEV light can cause macular degeneration and retina issues, damaging the photoreceptors at the back of the eye.
Blue light protection in adults
Due to this correlation of high energy light and damage that can occur to the retina, I do recommend blue light protection for adults, particularly those with family history of macular degeneration, and lighter skin/eyes. This blue light protection is actually moreso for protecting people from the outdoor exposure to blue light though, not necessarily digital devices. We
get more harmful blue light exposure going for a short walk outside (via the sun) than we get from sitting at a screen/computer all day.
Why not children?
In children, there are new studies that came out this year in 2021 showing that blue light is actually proven to be protective against myopia (near-sightedness) while children’s eyes are still developing (the majority of development happens between the ages of 0-17). Therefore, some exposure to blue light is actually good in preventing the need for nearsighted glasses in the future. Blue light also is what makes us happy and alert! The only time I recommend blue light protection for children is 3 hours before bedtime, to help with the circadian rhythm in kids who have a hard time sleeping. Blue light exposure from digital devices afte
r the sun goes down can interfere with melatonin secretion. Another option though here is to just avoid screen time altogether for kids within 3 hours of bedtime.
At the end of the day as with all things, balance is key!
A great pair of sunglasses is often adequate in protecting us against these harmful light rays, which include high energy visible (blue) light as well as ultraviolet light (UV A and UV B). My favourite brand of sunglasses, Maui Jims, provide UV protection as well as filter high energy light.
Have a great summer, and don't forget your sun protection!
Nicole Theiss, O.D.
The following articles are a great read for further information:
1. Zhao et al., Research progresses about the effect and prevention of blue light on eyes, Int J. Ophthalmology, 2018 11(12):1999-2003
2. Manrong et al., Short Wavelength (Blue) Light is protective against lens-induced myopia..., IOVS, 2021 62(1): 2021
3. Norihiro, N et al., Suppression of Blue Light at Night Ameliorates... Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 2019 (12:3786-3793
4. Vicente-Tejedor et al., Removal of Blue Component of Light... PLOS ONE 13(3):2018.
5. Tosini et al., Effects of Blue Light on the Circadian System... Mol Vis 22(61-72):2016