The blue light which reaches the human eye through digital devices used on a daily basis is a health hazard. Optical companies have come up with special lenses and technologies that will lessen the effect. An overview of what’s on offer
Who would have ever thought that hi-tech gadgets and energy saving devices will not just delight us, but also cause health risks? Worldwide research and studies have now unequivocally proved that blue light that emanates from computer screens, television sets, mobiles, tablets or even fluorescent and CFL light bulbs, is harmful. Long hours of sitting in front of the computer, especially in the nights, can be extremely risky for eye health. Studies further show that being exposed to this light at night lowers the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. The lowered secretion of this hormone in turn disrupts the body’s natural 24-hour automatic rhythm and affects its general well-being. The spin-offs of this health hazard could result in prolonged insomnia, certain kinds of cancers and the early onset of macular degeneration, and sometimes even cataract. Apart from a reduction of the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin, there is increased retinal stress amongst young people.
Dr William Harrison, a renowned optometrist based in California, USA, who has been following the ongoing research on blue light for several years, now puts the fears in clear perspective when he states that the blue spectrum – the 415 to 445 nanometer range – is super hot light, and when a child is holding a tablet six inches away from his face, it is genuinely something that parents should be scared of.
As optical companies across the world are increasing their academic knowledge in this, there is a large community of manufacturers who have jumped in the fray and doing remarkably. Here’s a quick round-up of who is doing what.
Essilor’s Crizal Prevencia
Essilor’s Crizal® PrevenciaTM lenses have been developed to protect the eye from harmful wavelengths, by filtering out the harmful blue-violet light that contributes to the degeneration of retinal cells, while allowing the essential blue-turquoise light to pass through, which is critical for human well-being.
This is a unique category of preventive lenses developed using Light ScanTM, an exclusive technology by Essilor, which selectively filters light by separating the beneficial blue-turquoise light (letting it pass through) from the harmful blue-violet rays (by filtering or cutting it out) which can contribute to macular degeneration. These lenses also cut UV rays, an important cause of cataracts, from the front and back surface of the lens, while maintaining optimum transparency of the lens. The lens also helps to fight the 5 enemies of clear vision – reflections, dust, water, scratches and smudges.
Hoya’s latest coating innovation, Hoya BlueControl helps to neutralise the blue light emitted by LCD and LED screens, preventing eye fatigue and eyestrain, and even sleeplessness. It keeps the eyes in better condition, offering more comfortable and relaxed vision and a better contrast perception when using everyday digital devices.
BlueControl comes standard in combination with Hi-Vision LongLife, claimed to be the hardest antireflection coating in the market today, up to 7 times more scratch resistant than standard anti-reflection coatings.
Hoya Vision Care’s Recharge EX3
Recharge EX3 is an anti-reflective lens treatment that offers improved blue light filtering properties and better scratch resistance than the original Recharge treatment. This is a lens treatment designed to protect eyes from the straining effects of the digital devices. Recharge EX3 uses substrate matching technology and reduces blue light by 10 per cent. It is also scratch resistant.
ZEISS Blue-Violet Light Blocking Solutions
Exclusive Blue Light Protection Index by ZEISS can guide the consumer to select the right blue light blocker depending on the most common activities of the user. For outdoor use there’s Skylet which allows 70 to 90 per cent light absorption, thereby blocking a significant amount of harmful blue light. The same goes for ZEISS tints, which are available in a large variety of choices. But this is again primarily for outdoor use. For indoors and outdoors usage, there’s Photofusion which works both ways. It offers up to 89 per cent absorption.
Signet Armorlite’s BluTech Lenses
Signet Armorlite offers Kodak Progressive BluTech lenses that have a blue light filtration developed by Eye Solutions. This, they say, is in keeping with the company’s policy of providing great lens designs even as they protect patients’ eyes from the long term effects on vision due to exposure to blue light. BluTech 1.50 was introduced in October, 2012 with an upgradation to BluTech Hi Impact 1.56 in February, 2013. The lens claims to block 100 per cent of direct UV. It also filters the harmful blue light without affecting the clarity of vision. With a brand name like Kodak associating with the lens, consumer cognition is a proven advantage. Available in Kodak progressive lenses as well as single vision, flat-top 28 and Kodak MonitorView Lens (computer lens), the range encompasses all viewing requirements.
Nikon SeeCoat Blue Anti-reflective Coating
Nikon SeeCoat Blue lens not only protects the eyes from harmful high-energy visible (HEV) light, but it also improves contrast and optimises transparency, while maintaining the same scratch resistance, super-hydrophobic, oleophobic and anti-static properties that today’s ECPs have come to expect from a premium AR coating, according to Rick Davis, COO, Nikon Optical USA. Apparently, Nikon has been selling this product for many years in Japan, where blue light lens treatments make up for 10 per cent of the lens market. Nikon’s SeeCoat Blue treatment not just cuts down on harmful blue light, it is also more durable and two times more scratch resistant than conventional lenses. SeeCoat Blue is an AR treatment and can be applied to any lens design or material. SeeCoat Blue is available through Encore Optics, Pasch Optical and Pech Optical Corporation.
Vision-Ease’s Coppertone Lenses
Recognising the need to provide premium lenses to health conscious consumers, Vision-Ease launched Coppertone. Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation as an effective filter for eyes and the areas surrounding it, Coppertone’s polarized lenses offer effective eye protection against UV radiation and filter some of the blue light spectrum allowing colours to remain true. Coppertone polarized lenses are available in grey and brown polycarbonate. There are a number of styles to choose from: semi-finished single vision, D28 bifocals, 7×28 tri focals and two line-free progressives, Illumina and Novel.
PFO Optima’s iBlu Coating
PFO Optima offers an anti-reflection coating which has been specially designed and created to protect eyes from blue light and UV. It also helps in reducing eye fatigue. iBlu coat claims to filter blue light most effectively. iBlu coat is available on distortion free resolution stock lenses and PAL and SV lenses.
Quantum Innovations’ Retinal Bliss DES
Quantum Innovations has also designed a coating combination that is unique. The front of the lens is coated in a way that makes it selectively reflective; this helps in reducing the blue light effect. The backside of the lens is coated with Retinal Bliss HEV, claiming to be the only AR that deals aggressively with HEV and UV light.
Spy Optics’ The Happy Lens
Spy Optics has another take on the blue light. Another body of scientific research has a different viewpoint of the wavelength: blue light is beneficial for the human body. So while it cuts out the harmful blue light, it enhances and harnesses the benefits, like increased alertness that energises the body and mind. Happy Lens is available in single vision and progressive prescriptions. It has 26 style and colour options including a black mirror lens coating and a new green spectra mirror for the outdoors.
VSP Optics Group’s UNITY with BluTech
UNITY with BluTech, by VSP Optics Group, is not a coating. The lenses are designed in a way that they contain the two main natural eye protectants – ocular lens pigment and melanin – in the optimal ratio to filter UV and harmful blue light while preserving natural colour perception. The formula is a part of the lens design itself and is not a coating. With only a slight tint that is said to help relax the eyes, this infusion avoids the deep amber colours that many other products have. With this infused design, not only is harmful, high-energy blue light filtered effectively, it also provides protection from the specific wavelengths of blue light known to affect the sleep-wake cycle. The lenses block 100 per cent of UVA and UVB radiation. Both indoor and outdoor lenses are available, and the outdoor lenses also provide polarization.