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A Sight for Sore Eyes – Technology and Eye Health

How many hours of the day do you spend in front of an LED display? Six, seven hours or maybe even longer? It will come as no surprise that our time spent in front of digital devices is increasing but does this come at a cost? In recent times, publicity surrounding the harmful effects of blue light exposure has been rising with emphatic warning cries from some medical professionals, notably opticians. It seems the technology industry is now taking notice, with a growing number of new displays containing low- or anti-blue light technology flooding the market.

Most LED display devices, including phones, tablets, laptops, monitors and TVs, project blue light. Blue light exposure at night suppresses the production of melatonin – a hormone that regulates sleep patterns – which leads to problems such as insomnia. Eye doctors have also expressed concerns about longer-term effects: the high levels of blue light people of all ages are being exposed to could eventually lead to macular degeneration.

Technological solutions that promote health have been in the industry’s peripheral vision for quite some time. According to our figures, an expanding share of monitor manufacturers’ portfolios is now given over to explaining how their eye-care technology targets harmful blue light. How quickly this phenomenon will spread to the rest of the market may depend on how much noise the medical field makes and if further regulation takes place. At present, the typical consumer may not be acutely aware of the inherent dangers of blue light and so may not take them into consideration when choosing a device.

Flickering screens – a major problem with CRT monitors in days of old – are also an issue as they can contribute significantly to eyestrain. LCD screens flicker because of the way the backlight is controlled and using what is known as pulse-width modulation (PWM) – essentially, the backlight is pulsed on and off to modulate brightness. To remedy this, manufacturers have been rolling out monitors with flicker-free technology.

Other technologies are being used to improve our overall health and well-being, so it is only fitting that a piece of the puzzle that was having the opposite effect is now catching up. Encouraged by innovation and a more educated public, manufacturers are ensuring that technology, which doesn’t harm our eyes, is now becoming more accessible.

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