Are blue filter glasses risky for children?  (Photo: Pixabay)
Are blue filter glasses risky for children? (Photo: Pixabay)

Due to the pandemic, our exposure to screens increased exponentially. Although many activities have returned to what is commonly called “normal life”, there are some activities that are still virtual, such as teleworking, virtual meetings, video calls and virtual classes of all kinds. We spend a lot of time in front of electronic devices during the day, and it is not surprising that many of us suffer from computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eyestrain. This refers to a very diverse group of eye and vision related problems experienced from prolonged use of computers, tablets, and cell phones, which can include red eyes, tearing, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, etc.

How to combat eyestrain

There are many techniques to combat this syndrome. One of the most mentioned by specialists are lenses with filters. Blue light blocking glasses are mass marketed to the general population because they are said to relieve discomfort as well as eye strain.

However, a 2017 investigation involving more than 130 participants reported that there is no high-quality clinical evidence demonstrating the beneficial effect of blue-blocking lenses in the general population for improving visual performance or sleep quality, alleviating eye fatigue or preserve the health of the retina.

A 2021 Australian study, published in the prestigious American Journal of Ophthalmology, came to the same conclusion. The blue filter did not alter the symptoms of eye fatigue caused by the use of screens compared to standard transparent lenses.

According to Dr. María Julia Vaio, a doctor at the Hospital Italiano de Bs As in the Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus section, the use of this type of filter in children acts as a double-edged sword. It conveys peace of mind to parents, who assume that children are protected when using screens and generate the opposite effect, extending the hours of exposure beyond the recommended times.

That is why Dr. Vaio recommends focusing on other resources to relieve eye strain from screen use.

The first is limit the use of devices. It is an ideal alternative, but in the case of not being able to limit its use, it is suggested to use the 20-20-20 rule, which consists of: after 20 minutes of reading, look beyond 20 feet (about 6 meters) during 20 seconds.

Also remember the ophthalmological recommendations on the use of screens in children from the Argentine Society of Children’s Ophthalmology (SAOI):

From 0 to 2 years: Avoid the consumption of screens.

2 to 5 years: Limit use to one hour per day.

more than 6 years: Establish exposure limits.

More recommendations

It is advisable to do 2 to 3 hours of outdoor activities per day, as it is known to prevent the onset of myopia in children and adolescents. The key is to focus on the distance (without forgetting the protection of the skin and eyes from UV rays).

Finally, keep eyes hydrated. When a person spends hours in front of their computer, the blink rate drops. Without that moisture, the cornea can become sore, dry, and even blurry vision. These symptoms can be improved by blinking more often and moisturizing children’s eyes with tears.

It is also important to remember that routine check-ups with specialists in pediatric ophthalmology recommended for ODS should be carried out during the neonatal period, then at 6 months, at 12 months, at 3 years, at school entry (first grade) and then every 2 years. It is very important to be responsible for our visual health and that of our children.

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