London, UK - Over 43% of 18-24 year olds in the UK could be at risk of eye damage through overexposure to their laptop, tablet, or smartphone screens. This is according to a survey by Ocushield which also revealed that only 35% of young Britons avoid screens in the 30 minutes before they go to sleep.
Optical experts have long warned that overexposure to screens emitting blue light could cause sleep problems and eye damage . They claim that the blue light which comes from smartphones, laptops and tablets is “toxic” to the back of the eyes and may lead to macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, though further research is needed.
This blue light can also cause sleep problems by tricking your body into thinking it is daytime, when it’s actually night-time. The NHS even states that exposure to screen light before going to bed could contribute to insomnia.
A “bad sign”
Dhruvin Patel — the optometry expert from Ocushield who conducted the study — believes that the results of the survey are troubling.
“Many experts agree that blue light emitted from screens is causing eye strain and fatigue as well as disrupting our sleep cycles. Furthermore, screens could be causing serious long-term damage to people’s eyes.”
“Smartphones are a fairly new technology, so a large number of people are unaware of these potential dangers. The data shows that people are not listening to the NHS’s concerns in favour of checking their emails or their Facebook page. It’s a bad sign.”
The study comes at a time when the majority of internet use is no longer via a desktop . Instead, more people are accessing the internet through their mobiles and tablets than any other device. The study also comes at a time when more young people are leaving Facebook — a mobile and desktop social media platform — in favour of Snapchat and Instagram — two mobile-focused social media platforms.
Patel argues that this could explain the results of the study. “It sounds cliche to say that young people are glued to their phones, but the data suggests that they are. We have no idea what the long-term effects of blue light overexposure could be, yet people continue to buy and use smartphones without questioning the risks.”
“There are things you can do”
Some experts have noted a correlation between lack of natural sunlight and a rise in short-sightedness in children. Patel is convinced that this issue is also linked with screen overexposure.
“There’s a lot of literature out there which is beginning to establish a link between a lack of time spent outdoors, away from handheld devices, and a rise in eye problems in young people. Combine that with young people’s increasing dependence on screens — for both work and leisure — and you have a recipe for disaster.”
Another study suggests that reducing exposure to blue light could help reduce the sleep disruption caused by laptop, tablet and smartphone screens. Patel more believes that more people need to be aware of this.
“People often feel powerless. After all, who can live without a smartphone or a laptop these days? Yet, the studies suggest that blue light is the most dangerous part of this overexposure, and there are things you can do to lessen overexposure to blue light specifically.”
Despite the results of the survey, Patel remains optimistic about the future. “Young people are great at changing their habits. That’s what being young is all about.
“There is a problem here, but getting outside and offline a bit more could go a long way towards solving this problem. The more young people that know that — the more they are likely to do something about it.”
For more information about Dhruvin Patel, please visit www.ocushield.com