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Studying means many hours of working in front of digital screens and books, so it’s important to take good care of your eyes.

Mesha Tanna, a Senior Optometrist with Optical Express, encourages students to look after their eyes while studying as “Almost a third of university students suffer from eye strain” according to research. Symptoms of eye strain include headaches, blurred vision, difficulty focusing, gritty eyes and increased sensitivity to light. As many as 90 percent of people using digital screens daily are experiencing digital eyes strain and most are unaware of why they are getting headaches or finding it difficult to focus. Students are most at risk, because the demands of their course, work, and social life means they are constantly using digital devices to function.

Blue light is visible to the human eye and seen everywhere. When light travels through the atmosphere, it collides with air molecules causing blue light to scatter across what we know as the blue sky. However, close proximity to ‘blue light’ can cause long-term damage. Sources of blue light include the sun, digital screens (TVs, computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones), electronic devices, and florescent and LED lighting.

Tanna also warns, “Exposure to digital devices can damage retinal cells and is linked to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a leading cause of blindness.” There is currently no cure for AMD. Light wavelengths make up the electromagnetic spectrum [see below] which is made up of gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet (UV) rays, visible light, infrared light, and radio waves. These are groups are represented by different colours to make the spectrum to determine the groups which are harmful and non-harmful to the human eye. The only part of this spectrum which is harmful to the human eye is visible light; blue or violent. This is because it has a very short wavelength, producing larger amounts of energy.

Blue light has been identified as the most dangerous light for the retina and can be harmed by visible high-energy of blue or violet light. The retina is a very thin, multi-layered tissue which covers the inner eyeball and blue light penetrates the macular pigment found in the eye. Without a healthy blood supply to the retina, the retinal cells begin to die and can cause permanent damage to our vision. However, if the macula (central vision area) starts to loosen, our vision will then be permanently damaged. Countless hours in front of digital screens has the potential to cause real and longlasting damage without precautions.

We have been taught from a young age that looking at the sun for too long is dangerous for our eyes. Our eyes’ natural filter do not protect us from the sun or digital screens, and this is why opticians recommend to select anti-reflective coating glasses if we are exposed to digital screens for too long. Take precautions when using digital screens just like we do for the sun. Install blue light protection filters, such as apps, screen protectors and even turning on night mode. Take regular breaks from the computer and remember to adjust your eyes every 20 minutes using the 20-20-20 rule.

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