Screen Time is Up, So is Visual Stress

From the desk of Dr. Jeffrey Kraskin, OD | Developmental Optometrist, Washington, DC

A number of people have asked me for any thoughts on what they might do in addressing all the potential visual stress from the new and hopefully temporary lifestyle of virtual work and school as more and more time is being spent on electronic media from handheld devices to tablets to laptops to desktops and beyond.

Many students are utilizing Chromebooks for their classes while others may be using their own personal laptop, tablet, or desktop monitors.  No matter what is being used it would be great if the learner, or even better the teacher and class as a whole, would take a momentary break to look away from the screen every 10-20 minutes to look across the room or out a window for about one minute. Further, if possible, I like the idea of connecting the Chromebook to a larger monitor or television to increase the size of the viewing area especially if the class is using a conference mode such as Zoom where each individual student is in their own little screen.  This smaller view can become very stressful over time.

As I may have mentioned to you in the past, possibly just in passing, or maybe you even read the posted article in my office on the bulletin board regarding the potential visually related problems associated with blue light wave length issues.  While the wave length of concern comes in its natural form from our sun it is more greatly dispersed by all that is around us when outside. The issue of concern arises from the commercial sources that have been more and more introduced into our lives by virtue of electronic monitors and even the LED bulbs you may purchase for your home or office.
Many people are aware of these issues and for those that have glasses you may even have a blue blocking filter that has been added to the final produced product.  Some have gone on-line or in the store and purchased over-the-counter blue light filter glasses.  While I have no financial interest in any product, for example on Amazon there are the following:

– Uvex Skyper Blue Light Blocking Computer Glasses with SCT-Orange Lens (S1933X)

– Blue Blocking Amber Glasses for Sleep

– BioRhythm Safe(TM), Special Orange Tinted Glasses Help You Sleep and Relax Your Eyes

– ANRRI Blue Light Blocking Computer Glasses for Anti Eyestrain Anti Glare Lens Lightweight Frame Eyeglasses Leopard Frame, Men/Women

The top two examples are not only made for blocking the blue light wavelength but also are tinted with an amber color that for many makes what you are looking at more clear.  But possibly even better would be to simple turn off the blue light wavelength from the sources in the first place. In addition to the blue filter glasses, many people just simply turn off the blue wavelength on their devices by placing them on night or even easier as on my android device turning the “Blue Light Filter” on on the display menu in settings.  For devices that do not have it that easy, you may want to check out the website www.justgetflux.com. This website has a free downloadable program to place on your device to turn of the blue light wavelength.  I suggest to everyone to set this for all the time not just at night hours, unless you are working on graphic design with colors you do not need these wavelengths.

In relation to the purchase of LED bulbs, please be sure to only use those in the “warm” color range or a color temperature of 2700 Kelvin.  These bulbs will appear more consistent in color with the traditional incandescent bulbs of the past.  While the higher color temperatures may look more bright or white these are not good for long term function and may even impact your natural creation of melatonin that is critical for your sleep-wake cycle.  Without the proper level of melatonin people may have difficulty with sleep patterns.

Dr. Jeffrey Kraskin

Have questions about vision and vision therapy? Did you know OTs receive extensive training in addressing visual impairments and visual differences in children and adults? We also have an amazing list of developmental optometrists we partner with for more specialized care. Click here to learn more about how OT can help your child’s visual needs. Have a specific concern or question? Call or email to schedule your free developmental consultation with a specialist today!