Leading optical retailer OPSM has revealed new research into Australian's exposure to blue light, showing we spend an average of over one-third of the day (9.4 hours) in front of computers, TVs and smartphones – more than the time spent sleeping.
The research was conducted by Lonergan to support the release of OPSM's exclusive BlueGuard™ lens, the first clear lens with in-built blue light protection, and investigated blue light exposure across the Boomer, X and Y generations, as well as office and non-office work environments.
Blue light is a potentially harmful part of the light spectrum, closely related to ultraviolet light. It is emitted by the sun, as well as by everyday electronic devices with a screen, such as a laptop, smartphone, desktop computer or TV. In today's societies, these devices are used by an overwhelming majority of Australia's population.
Office workers spend more time in front of a screen than those in any other working environment, spending almost half the day looking at screens (11.4 hours) – two hours more than the national average of 9.4 hours. Among Gen X and Y office workers, this number rises to almost 11.8 hours.
Overall, Australians are spending more time in front of a screen than they are sleeping (9.4 hours screening vs 7.3 hours sleeping). Over the course of a year, this means on average Australians will spend 143 days in front of a screen. We're also spending more of our waking time in front of a screen than we do working, eating, commuting, exercising and preparing for our day combined (8.6 hours total).
OPSM President and Optometrist Anthea Muir says, 'Excessive exposure to the blue-violet light emitted from screens, such as computers, TVs and smartphones has long been associated with a range of eye health and overall health issues including eye strain, blurred vision and sleep disruption.
'The BlueGuard™ lens was developed to help protect against the possible detrimental impact, long-term exposure to blue light could have on our health."
Naturally, Australians are worried about their levels of screen time. Three in five (58%) have expressed concerns about the health or wellbeing impacts of high levels of screen time, however it's Gen X & Y who are more likely to worry with their numbers rising to 66% and 69%, respectively.
Blue light itself is a concern for Australians, with almost four in five (79%) wanting to reduce the amount we're exposed to. However, three-quarters (75%) would prefer to eliminate the effects of blue light rather than reduce their screen time, making BlueGuard™ lenses a good solution.
New generations are being exposed to increasing levels of blue light from screens thanks to the normalisation of smartphones. Unsurprisingly, Millennials lead the way for the number of hours spent in front of screens each day, but only just (10.2 hours versus 10 and 8.3 for Gen X and Boomers, respectively). However, more than three-quarters (78%) of Millennials want to reduce the amount of blue light they are exposed to – citing tired and sore eyes, poor sleep, and feeling unproductive as their biggest related health & wellbeing concerns.
Further interesting findings from the research include:
Computers are the most prevalent of screens at 3.9 hours a day, followed by TV (2.9h), smartphone (1.8h) and others (0.9h)
Smartphone usage rises to 3 hours a day among Gen Y
Women are more likely than men to be concerned about blue light exposure (76% v 60%)
OPSM's BlueGuard™ lenses offer up to three times more protection than standard prescription lenses. Their smart blue filter targets specific blue-violet light wavelengths while letting beneficial blue-turquoise light through, with no impact on colour perception.
BlueGuard™ lenses are available exclusively from OPSM priced from $149 for a complete pair. More detail on stores and booking an eye test can be found at opsm.com.au
Question: What devices expose us to the blue light?
Peter Murphy: Blue light is part of the light spectrum closely related to ultra violet light. It's emitted by the sun, as well as by everyday electronic devices with a screen such as computers, smart phones, TVs and tablets. These devices are used by an overwhelming majority of the population, resulting in many of us being exposed to more blue light now than ever before.
Question: Are you surprised that Australians are spending 9.4 hours of their day exposed to blue light?
Peter Murphy: It's not that surprising when you see how technology has become so embedded in Australians' professional and private lives: Avoiding exposure to blue light seems nearly impossible. The changing dynamic of the modern workplace has fostered an -always connected' culture, while younger generations are being exposed to increasing levels of blue light thanks to the normalisation of smartphones.
What is surprising is that Australians are spending more time in front of screens than they are sleeping. Over the course of a year, Australians will spend 143 days in front of a screen. The main problem with this is most Australians aren't aware of the potential consequences of such exposure on their health.
Question: What damage is associated with extended exposure to blue light?
Peter Murphy: Prolonged periods of blue light exposure can lead to eye conditions and overall health issues such as eye strain, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches and sleep disruption.
Question: What detrimental impact does long-term exposure to blue light have on our health?
Peter Murphy: It is a known fact that the blue light emitted by our everyday electronic devices has been associated with severe eye conditions such as age-related Macular Degeneration and even Cataracts.
Question: What affects does excessive screen time have on our wellbeing?
Peter Murphy: Tired and sore eyes, poor sleep, and feeling unproductive are among the health and wellbeing concerns often associated with excessive screen time and blue light exposure.
Question: What is OPSM's exclusive BlueGuard™ lens?
Peter Murphy: Before BlueGuard, blue-light filtering lenses were often tinted yellow or orange: OPSM's exclusive BlueGuard™ lens is the first clear lens with in-built blue light protection.
Question: How does the OPSM BlueGuard™ lens work?
Peter Murphy: OPSM's BlueGuard™ lenses offer up to three times more protection than standard prescription lenses. Their smart blue filter targets specific blue-violet light wavelengths while letting beneficial blue-turquoise light through, with no impact on colour perception.
Question: What are the benefits of the OPSM BlueGuard™ lens?
Peter Murphy: The BlueGuard™ lens was developed to help protect against the detrimental impact long-term exposure to blue light could have on health. Some users have noticed a reduced impact of eye strain and an improved ability to sleep.
Question: Who should look into the new OPSM BlueGuard™ technology?
Peter Murphy: Anyone exposed to the blue light emitted from screens; especially office workers. Our research showed office workers spend more time in front of a screen than those in any other working environment, spending almost half the day looking at screens (11.4 hours). That's two hours more than the national average of 9.4 hours.
If you'd like to look into trying BlueGuard for yourself, get into your nearest OPSM for an eye-test and fitting.
Interview by Brooke Hunter