People sitting on a bench looking at mobile devices

Myopia and Millennials: The Trend No One Saw Coming

According to a Nielson Company audience report, it is estimated that the average American spends over 10 hours behind a screen consuming digital media and content. But is this much screen time actually helping us or hurting us?

As it happens, a number of studies have recently come out against the rapid increase in screen time for everyone from toddlers to senior citizens. In fact, some of these studies have shown a correlation between increased screen time and the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Cynicism
  • Shortened Attention Span
  • Decreased Social Skills
  • Isolation
  • Changes In Sleep Patterns

These are just a few of the negative effects linked to the world’s growing dependency on media whether it comes from your television, computer, or myriad of smart devices.

But beyond the studied and documented negative mental and social effects, could our digital habits also be related to our actual physical health?

Millennials, Media, and Myopia

Based on the Nielsen Q1 2016 Total Audience Report, it is estimated that while U.S. adults spend an average of 10 hours and 39 minutes each day consuming media, for the Millennial generation, that number can be as high as 18 hours a day.

Interestingly enough, as the hours spent consuming digital media continues to increase, so do the recorded cases of myopia, more commonly referred to as shortsightedness, which is where a person is able to see things close up but has difficulty when trying to view things from a distance.

Myopia is commonly attributed to what happens when the eye grows too long horizontally, causing the lens of the eye to focus what the individual is trying to view in front of the retina versus on the retina. Myopia can also be the result of an overly curved cornea or an overly thick lens.

The Epidemic No One Saw Coming

However, over the course of the past decade Ophthalmologists are now beginning to credit our various media devices with a third cause of myopia.

In an interview with WIRED correspondent Duncan Nicholls, ophthalmologist Andrew Bastawrous was quoted as saying “There’s definitely a myopia epidemic. Many more people are becoming shortsighted than they were a decade ago. The implications of this are not just that there are more people needing glasses, but that their condition is pathological. Their myopia is due to the eyeball growing, particularly in populations of Asian descent, at a rate that is causing even potential severe visual impairment, through glaucoma retinal detachment and other retinal problems.”

Bastawrous goes on to say use the country of Singapore as an example by asserting that “more than 90 percent of school children are leaving school myopic.”

In fact, it has been estimated that here in the United States myopia rates have doubled over the last generation. Leading countless Millennials to invest in preserving their eye health.

And what are Ophthalmologists claiming is a key factor in this uptick in shortsightedness? The numerous digital screens we place in front of us every day.

One theory is that as we spend increasing amounts of time in front of our televisions, computers, and smart devices, our eyes are gradually becoming more and more accustomed to only needing to see a few feet in front of us instead of long distances. A second theory is that our eyes are not receiving enough natural sunlight because we are spending more time indoors— a theory that yet again, may have significant ties to increases in screen time.

Protecting Your Eye Health

Do you find yourself needing to squint to try to see distant objects, do you often experience headaches, blink or rub your eyes frequently?

If so, it may be time to visit your eye doctor.

When was the last time you visited an optometrist? For those without perfect vision, it is recommended that one visit the eye doctor once every twelve months to look for any adjustments that may be needed in your eye prescription.

young african american woman on the couch wearing blue blocking eye glasses looking at her laptop

Blue Blocker Lenses: Are They Worth The Hype?

As our bodies continue to age, it is understandable that we begin to experience more changes. And whether we like it or not, doctors and other medical specialists are here to help us make sure that our bodies are operating at the very best levels that they can and when they are not, doctors are the people we visit to find out why.

For example, declining eyesight is one of the most common and most easily diagnosable issues our bodies may encounter throughout our lives. Worsening eyesight is often associated with getting older and while there are a variety of reasons and levels of severity, ultimately poor eyesight is typically very treatable except in certain circumstances.

As a general rule of thumb, it is suggested that you should visit the eye doctor once every one to two years. Even if you don’t feel your eyesight has changed, an optometrist will be able to know for sure and make any adjustments to your eye prescription as necessary.

The Introduction Of Blue Blocker Lenses

If your eyesight has changed over the past five years and you have needed to purchase new eyeglass lenses, you may have been asked if you were interested in adding Blue Blocker Lens Protection. This is something you may have never heard of before.

Blue Blocker lenses have been designed to filter out blue light. Older examples of these lenses may have appeared to have a yellow tint, but newer blue light-blocking lenses look like all other lenses types with little to no color difference. But what is this blue light and why should you pay extra to block it?

Blue light is not a new phenomenon though our recent levels of prolonged exposure to them certainly is. Blue light occurs naturally in nature and is partially responsible for helping to keep our circadian rhythms (sleep cycles) normal. The problem is that over the past few decades our exposure to non-natural blue-light producing objects has dramatically increased through our increased exposure to certain manmade lighting, television screens, computer monitors, laptops, and a myriad of other smart devices.

You may have heard that too much screen time can be bad for your health, but what happens when prolonged exposure to our various everyday screens is unavoidable?

Blue Blocker Lenses For The Modern World

According to a 2016 Nielson Company audience report, it is estimated that everyday adults in the United States consume nearly 11 hours of media. For many American workers, their very jobs dictate that they must spend at least seven hours in front of their computer screens alone. Free time out or at home often includes watching tv, movies, or even the news, while periodically checking our smart devices for even more content.

As a result, recent studies have indicated a correlation between an increase in diagnosed cases of Myopia (shortsightedness) among individuals who spend increased amounts of time in front of a screen— most notably, the Millennial generation.

Blue blocker lenses have been designed to help us better take care of our eyes in the modern world, but are they really all they’re cracked up to be?

The truth is that for the most part, the science is too new and experts disagree on whether these lenses can improve overall eye health. One aspect of our daily lives that blue light-blocking lenses do appear to help with is regulating our sleep cycles.

According to a 2018 article from the Strategist, author Maxine Builder writes “In a perfect world, you’d start to avoid blue-enriched light from screens four hours before bedtime. ‘That is hard for a lot of people to swallow,’ admits Goldstein, ‘so we do sometimes recommend blue-light-blocking glasses at that time.’ And there’s a growing body of research to back up the claim that blocking blue light before bed can help you sleep better. In one study, from 2009, volunteers who wore blue-light-blocking glasses three hours before bedtime reported better sleep quality and mood than those who didn’t. A more recent study of teenage boys found similar results.”

Protecting Your Vision Health

When was the last time you visited an optometrist? For those without perfect vision, it is recommended that one visit the eye doctor once every twelve months to look for any adjustments that may be needed to your eye prescription.

Have you noticed an increase in difficulty falling asleep and find it hard to pry your eyes from blue-lit screens, or your eyes feel strained after a long day at your desk? Do you find yourself needing to squint to try to see distant objects or read things up close? Do you often experience headaches, blink, or rub your eyes frequently?

If so, it may be time to visit your eye doctor and assess your overall vision health.