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“Bandage” Solutions Won’t Protect Your Eyes!


“Adaptive brightness on cell phones, tablets, and monitors isn’t doing anything to help at all.”


You’ve likely seen a lot of our articles about how digital devices are clearly a source of many annoying issues including digital eye strain, macular degeneration, and melatonin suppression. When you ask the experts at Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics (The Journal of the College of Optometrists) and the National Academy of Sciences, they will agree you need to protect your eyes since blue light is bad for sleep! So, when you’re bathing yourself in the light from digital devices, it’ll be harder to get to sleep, stay asleep, and enjoy your sleep.

And now that there is so much scientific evidence showing how bad digital devices are for our eyes, technology engineers and developers have provided the world with “bandage” fixes: apps that manipulate screens and supposedly relieve users from being affected by artificial blue light. What could possibly be bad about that, right?

protect eyes from digital eye strain

Well, a new study has now come out with damning evidence that adaptive brightness on cell phones, tablets, and monitors isn’t doing anything to help at all. Researchers at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute had already determined that blue wavelengths of light suppress the release of melatonin. Now, however, their latest research has shown that subjects who used a digital device with an app designed to manipulate blue light intensity versus those who did not, resulted in no change in melatonin suppression whatsoever. In other words, apps which turn your screen orange under the guise that it’ll protect your eyes might only work for removing blue light, but they won’t do much in helping you sleep better. One interesting note in their study that stood out to us, though, was that the one night where all participants had an influx of fresh, sleepy-time melatonin was when they all wore a pair of blue light blocking glasses. Well, what do ya know!

*mic drop gif here*

Stop ruining your sleep and stop suffering from digital eye strain. Combat all of these issues with GUNNAR. To read a third party opinion, see what one editor had to say about GUNNAR glasses on Gadget Review!

 

Do Apps That Block Blue Light Improve Sleep Quality?

With studies coming in left and right, it’s becoming more and more obvious that exposure to artificial light—especially from digital devices—is negatively affecting a growing number of people. Recently, NPR dove into the arena and reported on whether or not applications for phones, tablets, and computers were helping block blue light and improve sleep quality. Spoiler alert: they’re not.

blue light sleep effects

While both experts NPR interviewed said there is value in using the apps—which we agree, there is some value—you’re still not getting enough protection. On top of that, with a light-shifting program, you’re causing the colors of your screens to be manipulated and they end up looking like they’ve spent too much time in a spray-tan booth. Whether you’re into art, gaming, photography, or just surfing the web for fun videos or products, the last thing you want is for everything to look unnatural. Especially memes. Besides, even in an orangey state, screen brightness still contains blue light.

blocking blue light makes you sleep better

In steps David McLeod, an Optical Business Manager for an eyecare company in Georgia. In his interview with FOX/ABC WGXA.tv, McLeod warns that overexposure can lead to macular degeneration and retina damage. Just when you thought not getting enough sleep was bad, in steps this guy to say you’re going to go blind! Dramatics aside, he is definitely correct. While it may take a while for that kind of damage to occur (though increasingly so thanks to so many things being wired and digital these days), they are issues which can be prevented starting today. As Professor Brian Zoltowski pointed out in the NPR article, we’re surrounded by artificial light—there’s no escaping it. Taking steps to decrease exposure is all well and good, but not everyone can escape the light. So that leaves you with two choices: A) Change your life such that you can get away from artificial sources of light well before bed or; B) Put on a pair of glasses—as recommended by David McLeod—that will protect your eyes all day and night.

how to get more sleep

If you’re tired of feeling the strain, not getting enough sleep, and if you’re worried about the health of your eyes, it’s time to get a pair of GUNNAR. No need for an app—get the protection that will help restore the sleep you’ve been wanting. Check out our latest styles, Axial and Valve.

Doctor Recommended for a Reason

GUNNAR glasses have long been doctor-recommended for one important reason: they protect your eyes. So, it’s no surprise to us when well-respected medical professionals like Dr. Ryan Corte, O.D. agree. In his recent article, Dr. Corte lived up to his promise of being passionate about educating his patients and explained our technology in great detail from his perspective as an optometrist. He’s not just someone who bases his beliefs on data and science, he’s also a GUNNAR user thanks in part to the need he had in protecting his eyes after having LASIK surgery some time ago.

dry eye treatment

It’s a little shocking at this point in time, however, that there are still quite a few people who aren’t familiar with digital eye strain. As a matter of fact, in a study done earlier this year by Novartis and Johns Hopkins University, 64% of the 6,000 surveyed weren’t informed about the medical condition. This same study also revealed a very interesting fact: 81% of surveyed university students had clinical signs of dry eye (one of the symptoms of digital eye strain) but only 41% reported the condition. Chances are, most just think the effects of digital eye strain are related to something else, and not a direct result of increased and repeated exposure to artificial blue light.

computer eye strain symptoms

This is where Dr. Corte’s article comes in and at a very important time in human history. The Digital Age is very much upon us, and the number of people exposed to digital devices for much of the day is increasing at an extremely high rate. The need to protect your eyes has never been more important, especially now that a growing number of studies are coming out and reaffirming what optometrists like Dr. Corte have long known and feared: digital eye strain is a very real and very serious condition that needs to be addressed on a daily basis. From losing quality sleep to the early onset of macular degeneration and on to many other long-term conditions and eye damage, leaving your eyes to fend for themselves when bathed in artificial light that they’re not meant to be exposed to will only yield greater medical issues, pain, and loss of cognitive function.

Give Dr. Corte’s post a read when you have a few moments. If you’re ready to get on board and protect your eyes, the styles he enjoys using are Sheadog, Mod, and Intercept which are all in stock today.

Ladies, Prioritizing Your Eye Health Will Help Your Workplace Productivity!

The health and wellness gurus at Well+Good just posted an interesting article which discusses the need for women to pay better attention to their eye health, and we couldn’t agree more. Noting the 20-20-20 rule for keeping eyes fresh and rested throughout the day, W+G also shed some light on a recent release which stated women are more likely to suffer from chronic dry eye, inflammation, and vision impairment when compared to men. As you already know, these are just a few of the many symptoms of digital eye strain which is exactly what GUNNAR eyewear prevents.

So, if your “#bosslady goals” are to keep excelling and getting the job done well, follow Well+Good’s advice and then take it one step further by protecting your eyes with GUNNAR. You will immediately feel the difference and, therefore, be able to spend more time on increasing your workplace productivity.

Ramp up your ability to tackle the daily grind with a pair of Vertex – available now in Onyx and Smoke.

Nobel Prize Awarded to Circadian Rhythm Doctors on How Artificial Light Affects Your Sleep

Congratulations to doctors Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael Young for winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine! These three American medical professionals studied fruit flies for decades in order to isolate one specific gene that dictates the body’s circadian rhythm. What’s crucial about their life’s work is how it’s led the way for a much more robust understanding of how artificial light can affect our well-being and sleep. Another important thing to note is their work was chosen to be awarded over ground-breaking discoveries in gene-editing as well as immuno-oncology which is the process of fighting cancer by jump-starting the immune system.

nobel prize sleep

The TL;DR version of their work is this: we all have a constellation of proteins in our DNA which work together in order to keep us functioning on a 24-hour cycle. This process includes when and how well we sleep. In this cluster is one particular protein which allows light to have an influence on our body’s clock. Letting in more artificial light will disrupt the cycle and thus cause our brains to not want to sleep (melatonin disruption). What happens when you don’t get enough sleep? As we previously posted, you risk impairing your memory, increasing your chances for injury and disease, perpetuating the issue through neurotoxin buildup which further disrupts sleep, and becoming more prone to depression.

how light affects your sleep

In the end, their incredible efforts have led to major advancements in sleep science. This really is an amazing achievement and worth the 5 minutes to read the whole story on Wired.com which you can find by clicking here.

With GUNNAR Optiks and our technologically enhanced eyewear, you can help preserve your body clock and get the proper sleep you deserve.

 

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017“. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 3 Oct 2017.

Maximizing Work Performance

In the corporate world, If you don’t execute your job effectively, efficiently, and thoroughly, it’s no secret; there are hundreds of other qualified professionals lined up who can make it happen. Which, begs the question: why work so hard to succeed if you’re only going to cripple yourself the second you clock out for the day?

Most determined employees strive for success and getting ahead. Philosophically speaking, they’re just as committed to reaching their goals as any professional athlete. Though for many, maybe even most, a healthy eating style, enough exercise and most importantly, getting the 7-9 hours of actual sleep so essential to maintaining higher levels of energy, excellent health and performance aren’t priorities. Among other aspects of their lifestyle, these errors in judgement, even more than body composition, negatively affects their functional abilities and focus.

If though, business professionals approached their game, thinking and living more like an athlete, they would perform like corporate “athletes” and excel way beyond their present capabilities.

When it comes to professional athletes, being in tip-top shape is of the utmost importance. And it’s not just physical, but mental as well. For each of them, it is vital that they live with optimal energy levels, bring peak energy when they need it most and avoid crashing, especially when their game is on.

Yes, these million-dollar-machines spend an exorbitant amount of time in training, but it’s all so they can perform at desired levels when it matters most. Don’t we all want a similar result? To know we can bring it because we’ve got it; and, to look and feel it?

For average Americans, though, the divide between the healthy, performance lifestyle of an athlete and their lifestyle is immense. Frankly, given how well-tuned we know athletes are and the noticeable impact it has on their performance, it’s baffling to comprehend why more people don’t step up their game. Learning how to optimize the way you live for the admired levels of performance we see our icons deliver week in and week out throughout the year, even if you’re not into sports or a fitness enthusiast makes a world of difference.

In our daily routines, no matter how mundane, we don’t have to reach for that third cup of coffee or overpriced energy drink to make it through because there are things we can all do to have athletic-like energy and performance to maximize our work performance.

Believe it or not, having that energy, starts with light, and your eyes.

eye strain headache

 

It Starts with the Eyes

 

Our bodies all function throughout the day based upon on circadian rhythm. Simply put, your circadian rhythm is your body clock which is telling you when to wake up, and when to get tired and go to bed. There are many factors which can positively and negatively impact your circadian rhythm. Knowing more about these factors might get a bit technical, but they’re important to your health. Since your rhythm runs your physiology, it feeds off of four external factors which affect its ability: light, hormones, temperature, and food. Let’s start with light.

“Light entrains and effects all of [our] physiology. The retina mediates processes via the retinohypothalamic tract which facilitates autonomic responses and hormonal communication. Literally every cell depends on the rhythm in order to function in their own circadian manner, so it requires little imagination to fathom the extent of dysregulation that can occur with inappropriate phase shifting as a result of prolonged exposure to irritating wavelengths of light. Blue light has somewhat of a paradoxical reputation, with some research praising it for melatonin suppression and arousal promoting effects, while others demonize it due to its phototoxicity and insomniogenic attributes.”Caleb Greer, BSN, RN, Revive Treatment Centers

In other words, over exposure to blue light will prevent your circadian rhythm from telling your body it’s time to get tired. Yes, natural blue light in the morning is an important thing to soak in so you can become more alert and ready for your day, but sustained exposure from artificial sources only serves to interrupt your body clock in a negative way.

computer vision syndrome and productivity

Greer further states that there needs to be an understanding of what is meant by “blue light” as there is a nice chunk of the visible light spectrum devoted to it, from 380 to 500nm [nanometers]. As literature suggests, blue light (and some of the UV spectrum) is absolutely necessary for proper function. Photoreceptors [in your eyes] capture photons from rays and utilize the energy to induce a cascade that results in an action, from color vision and dim-light vision to photoentrainment and hormonal periodicity. However, blue light is never on its own in the solar spectrum and it is vastly outshined by the amount of red and infrared light radiated alongside it. Left alone, blue light has been shown to induce photochemical damage across the retina and macula due to its high-energy photons causing oxidative stress within the [light-sensitive proteins found in photoreceptor cells]. Oxidative stress results in the production of reactive molecular species that damage cell structure and energy flux.

Two issues now stand regarding artificial light: one is the frequency of said light, and two is the duration of exposure to it. Let’s be clear, natural blue light is not the enemy. However, artificial blue light borders on becoming one because of its frequency, and the lack of red light which assists with healing and energy production. The incoming barrage of artificial blue light becomes too great for our retinas to handle. What happens to the eye? According to Caleb, the healing process in the eye decreases which then causes energy transfers within the eye to slow down. This results in circadian rhythms being thrown off track.

“Blue light from your computers can contribute to digital eye strain and long-term health issues.”Dr. Eric White, O.D.

performance tips work
protect eyes at work
blue light harmful effects

Dr. White recommends amber tinted lenses while looking at digital screens to prevent this. The two primary properties of amber lenses that make them good at preventing digital eye strain are added visual contrast and the filtering of blue light. Over saturation of blue light decreases our visual acuity, depth perception, and can make focusing difficult. This ultimately makes our eyes work harder, resulting in greater eye fatigue and headaches. In the long-term, there are studies and literature stating blue light can cause cataracts and macular degeneration.

In a recent study by the Midwestern University and Arizona College of Optometry, it has been known for nearly 40 years that blue light exposure can damage retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. RPE cells are the pigmented protective layer just outside the neurosensory retina that nourishes retinal visual cells, and helps with light absorption. These cells are extremely important because they improve the overall quality of the optical system, and they absorb the scattered light and diminish the photo-oxidative stress on the retina. This study showed that exposure to blue light reduced senescence associated beta-galactosidase (SABG) staining after one week of exposure. After three weeks of exposure, defects began to appear in the RPE layer and cell size was reduced. By four weeks of exposure to blue light, the RPE layer was significantly disrupted, and there was a 30% reduction in cell numbers and viability. These results suggest that exposure to levels of blue light that might occur in a normal environmental setting can damage important RPE cells.

blue light and sleep

 

The Need for Quality Sleep

 

One of the greatest arenas that the relationship between exposure to irritating, artificial blue light and our circadian rhythm is so clinically relevant is sleep, where hormonal modulators depend on proper lighting and circadian synchrony. The job of the blue frequency is to initiate a “daytime” command which assists with bringing along the behaviors needed to operate and function during the day. What happens when we expose our eyes to this during evening hours? Well, the brain is told that it is still daytime and that it needs to adapt. The consequences of poor or inadequate sleep are no mystery. However, it is important to realize that the cause of much of the population’s disturbed sleep may be prolonged exposure to this environmental cue.

Jeff Zeilstra, of Fatigue Science, explained that they understand, from extensive work with elite athletes and military operators, that consistent, good quality sleep is extremely important to human performance, both cognitively and physiologically. Over the past several years, performance coaches and researchers have also learned that tissue growth and repair of all populations occurs during deep sleep, and that it’s a time for metabolic rebalancing. For instance, when athletes are sleep deprived, the production of cortisol—the hormone linked to unhealthy stress—increases as well as bio-markers such as inflammation. Testosterone and growth hormone levels decrease while at the same time, the production of glycogen and carbohydrates—essential for energy during physical activity—decreases as well. As well, we know that keeping consistent sleep/wake patterns will keep the body’s circadian rhythm in check in order to help maximize daytime alertness and energy.

sleep and productivity

“Deep sleep—the kind that occurs in later stages of non-REM and REM sleep—is vital for restoring brain cells and neural pathways, ridding the brain of toxins, and critical for short and long term cognitive health.”Jeff Zeilstra, Fatigue Science Account Executive

Thomas Delauer, celebrity trainer and health author, tells us that to maintain your body’s ideal health and to get the restorative sleep necessary to drive daily top performance, its best to understand how your circadian rhythms work and how they correlate with your body’s hormones. It is also important to understand how artificial blue light from digital devices can interrupt your circadian rhythms and hormone production.

“Your natural circadian rhythm takes its cues from your environment and can generally be considered the body’s central clock. Essentially the brain sees environmental cues such as it getting dark out or it getting later in the day, and it then sends messages to our peripheral clock. Your peripheral clock is your body’s cells, organs, and the body itself. These messages coordinate your body’s sleep cycles, daily routines, and they make physical adjustments based on messages from your central clock and peripheral clock.” —Thomas Delauer, Trainer, Author

computer vision syndrome

Issues can arise when the body’s central clock and the environment do not match up causing hormone production to be disrupted. Artificial blue light from computers, phones, and tablets trick the body into thinking its daytime when it is nighttime, and prevents the body from its normal hormone production. In the short-term this will affect your deep restorative sleep, anxiety levels, depression, metabolism, libido, and overall daily performance. In the long-term, this can cause long-term bouts of depression and anxiety, chronic metabolism issues, as well as increasing the body’s chances of injury and disease.

According to a recent article on WebMD, there’s a growing sense that lack of good quality, natural circadian rhythm sleep could be taking a serious toll on our health. Frank Scheer, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, states that because circadian rhythm affects how our bodies function, disrupting it can throw the system out of whack. This includes our cardiovascular system, metabolism, digestion, immune system, and hormonal balance. This sort of disruption can have serious consequences on our health.

 

Reaching New Heights in Productivity and Performance

 

“As much as our community is driven by a fitness lifestyle, most of us work in careers that require significant parts of our days to be spent in front of computer screens. This constant exposure to blue light not only causes disruption of our sleep patterns, but can cause a threat to our eye and body’s health. Here at HYLETE headquarters, we supply GUNNAR’s glasses to our team to optimize everyone’s health and performance.”Ron Wilson, CEO, HYLETE, Inc.

office performance tips

In order to maintain your maximum performance levels, Thomas Delauer explained that you need to implement a few things to help your hormones cycle normally and prevent this imbalance. First, it is important to surround yourself with bright light in the morning to help your body shut off your overnight melatonin production to get your day started. Second, it’s important to minimize your exposure to blue light in the afternoons and evenings to allow your body to begin shutting down, and begin production of melatonin. Blocking out blue light, especially in the afternoons and evenings, is very important to maintaining natural circadian rhythms so the body gets solid restful sleep cycles and productive daily wake cycles.

According to Greer, although not an effect of blue light directly, another clinical diagnosis that is relevant to the overutilization of digital devices primarily emitting blue light is digital eye strain. Fatigue of the extraocular eye muscles (EOM) can lead to intense symptomatology in addition to that of the metabolic cascade described earlier. All muscles have proprioceptors that give continuous information to the brain regarding position and tension, and the change in those parameters. When a muscle is chronically lengthened or shortened, the proprioceptors adapt and this results in tone that is abnormal, and dysfunctional. This process occurs within the EOM as well, and due to the poor posturing associated with the use of computers and mobile devices, the EOM are subject to vertical, horizontal, and torsional stress. Our eyes and visual systems are built to explore the visual environment, track objects of interest, scan for new objects of interest, and also to search and react to possible threats to safety—all of which occur beyond the measurements of any screen. With blue light causing physical damage to photoreceptors, contrast sensitivity can also take a significant hit which will reduce visual clarity, as well as increase cortical energy expenditure as it devotes more effort to attain accurate perception.

 

What Now?

 

A lot of what you just read is detailed science and medical information provided to us by tenured experts in their respective fields. To summarize, being and living at your best doesn’t have to be a difficult chore, nor does it require a lot of time. Simple things like eating right, regular exercise, limiting blue light during the afternoons and evenings, and protecting your eyes throughout the day will all contribute to an increase in quality sleep and daytime energy. We may not all reach professional athlete levels of fitness and health, but we can do a lot to benefit our lifestyles by following the advice of everyone who has contributed to this article.

productivity tips

On a daily basis, our eyes and bodies don’t just need to keep up, but perform at their best, just like athletes, so we can compete and excel as a person and professional. Tie all of this into blue light exposure, and the vicious cycle of bad sleep —> sluggish performance —> slow metabolism —> need for artificial stimulants/caffeine —> work stress —> bad sleep never ends. To be at your best and ready to compete at a professional level, it is critical to break this endless cycle. Of course, the right nutrition and exercise help you maintain body balance, but the critical element always comes back to limiting your exposure to artificial blue light, and there are many ways in which you can protect yourself.

how to improve work performance and productivity

Let’s break everything you’ve just read down into a simple flow. Blue light can affect your body’s circadian rhythm as well as your overall health and wellness. Your body’s physiology and functionality get its cues from your environment which dictate how well your daily routine is going to go. Your circadian rhythm is your body’s clock that regulates your overall physiology. Over-exposure to blue light absolutely disrupts hormonal and chemical communication in the body and with your sleep pattern. Blue light from a digital device can contribute to digital eye strain and long-term health issues. Blue light exposure can damage the RPE cells that protect your retina from long-term damage. Brain stimulation caused by blue light prevents the body from getting deep restorative sleep. Deep sleep is vital for restoring brain cells, repairing the body, and ridding the brain of toxins. Without deep sleep, you disrupt the repair process for short and long-term cognitive health. Lack of sleep and disruption of sleep will increase your risk of other serious diseases. It is all, therefore, important to limit the amount of blue light you receive from an artificial source especially in the afternoon and evening.

Sources:
Thomas Delauer, Celebrity Trainer, Health Author
Caleb Greer, BSN, RN, Revive Treatment Centers
Dr. Frank Scheer, Ph.D., Neuroscientist, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Ron Wilson, CEO, HYLETE, Inc.
Dr. Eric White, O.D.
Dr. Michael Kozlowski, Ph.D., O.D., FAAO, Midwestern University
Jeff Zeilstra, Fatigue Science
John Allen Mollenhauer, Performance Lifestyle® Inc.

Steps You Can Take to Combat Computer Vision Syndrome

We’ve long been touting the necessity of protecting your eyes because it’s why our company exists in the first place. Well, now the prestigious and well-respected Reader’s Digest has joined the fight. They recently jumped on board and shared some ways in which you can keep your eye balls safe. As Reader’s Digest noted, “When you stare at computers (or devices like smartphones and tablets) for too long, the muscles in your eyes have to work overtime. And ‘like any muscle, if you’re constantly using it, it can break down,’” says James Stringham, PhD, research professor at the University of Georgia. Given the amount of time we’re all spending staring at a digital device, it makes sense that one of the biggest publications of all time would want to help spread the recommendation.

computer vision syndrome symptoms

Steps you can take include eating leafy greens, corn, and orange peppers, practicing the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at something 20+ feet away for 20 seconds), taking supplements if leafy greens aren’t your thing, limiting your exposure to artificial blue light, and, surprisingly enough, wearing reading and blue-blocking glasses. Wouldn’t you know it, we have those!

If you’re looking for blue-blocking readers, you can find GUNNAR styles here. Otherwise, check out our latest style designed by Publish: the new Infinite.

Are your computers destroying your body?

By Frank Gimbel, ABOC-AC

Screens are just about everywhere we look today. Whether they are in the form of flat-screen TVs, PCs, laptops, cell phones, media players, smart watches, or some other technology, all of these devices can emit harmful blue light that can create digital eyestrain. With all this technology surrounding us, questions are stirred about the harm they can cause to the eye and overall health in general.

The dawn of the personal computer age has opened the door to what is known as CVS (Computer Vision Syndrome), or commonly known as digital eyestrain. This condition plagues all ages, spans all occupations, and can harm anyone who uses a computer or display device for prolonged periods of time. Let’s face it, our eyes were not designed to focus upon a specific finite distance for countless hours without experiencing fatigue, eyestrain, dry eyes, and blurred vision. Other disturbing factors can be noted with neck and back pain, double vision, vertigo, and polyopia (the struggle of refocusing the eyes). Additional aggravators can include poor lighting, improper ventilation, and screen glare. With extended computer use and other display devices, we are forcing our eyes to stay fixed on a specific distance for a prolonged period of time. Theoretically, this is highly unnatural for our eyes, and CVS affects about 90% of the people who invest three or more hours per day on a computer according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

1e_webWe are now living in a wired world, dependent on digital devices, and susceptible to CVS more than ever. This widespread condition affects 70% of Americans and is growing daily. While CVS is most prevalent due to the action of eye movements and focusing, a New York Times study of pre-university students acknowledged that a large number of affected users do not have proper ergonomic computer set-ups in their work environment. The position of the user—seating, lighting, distances, screen size, foot placement, wrist and hand movements—all play a critical role in how one should set up a workstation in order to maximize comfort, efficiency, and ward off Computer Vision Syndrome.

When it comes to the conversation about digital devices, the discussion inevitably turns to blue light. There are two different types of blue light to consider. The first type is the healthy kind that helps to regulate our circadian sleep rhythm. It boosts alertness, heightens reaction times, elevates moods, and increases the feeling of well-being. This is the healthy type, and it’s what we all need to help lead a balanced and healthy life.

1dBlue light is a natural trigger and our bodies respond to its presence by suppressing melatonin production in the brain. In fact, all light tends to suppress melatonin production, but blue light “does so more powerfully” according to a May, 2012, Harvard Health Publications report. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that influences our circadian rhythms: our body’s natural 24-hour cycle controlling the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that we experience on a daily basis. These circadian rhythms tell us when to be awake and alert, and when to rest. We’re just beginning to understand the powerful effects that inappropriate or untimely lighting may have on our well-being, but already the facts are starting to pile up and high-energy (blue) light is the subject of much of this focus.

 

1cSleep disruption is a significant issue for millions of Americans, both adults and children. More than 40 million suffer chronic sleep disorders, and 20 million more report occasional problems sleeping according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Poor sleep habits promote irritability, and can significantly affect all areas of our physical health including reduced work performance, mood disorders, high blood pressure, risk of stroke, and diabetes. Studies show that exposure to blue light a couple of hours before bedtime can delay deep REM sleep significantly. The prevalence of blue light in our sleeping environments has many physicians worried.

The second type is harmful, and has been suggested to be a leading cause of macular degeneration and other hazardous ocular disorders. In terms of the visible light spectrum (ROY-G-BIV), blue light occurs between 380 nm to 500 nm. A nanometer (nm) is measured as one billionth of a meter (0.000 000 001 m), and is commonly used to measure a wavelength of light. What we are talking about when we discuss blue light is particularly High Energy Visible (HEV) light, the violet/blue band of the color spectrum which exists everywhere around us, whether we are indoors or outside. Blue light is actually everywhere. When outside, light from the sun travels through the atmosphere. Inside, blue light can be found in fluorescent lights, LED bulbs, and through the emission of electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers.

Prior to 2010, the conversation about blue light was most often connected to outdoor exposure and discussions about UV protection. This was the case until April 2010 when the release of the first iPad spawned what was to become “The Tablet Revolution”. Before long, these new-age devices were mass-produced by many competitors in the market, and more tablets flooded shelves in stores and were openly embraced. Tablets soon became the go-to media platform replacing many magazines, newspapers, and paperback books. While these new high-tech devices reduced paper waste, they quickly outsold traditional computers, and created new types of visual problems to combat. When using standard computers on desks and tables, the screen is positioned at a safe mid-distance range. Tablets, on the other hand, are held at 12-to-24 inches from the eyes, and their portable nature increases average hourly usage. Interconnectivity with smartphones and apps became prevalent, and now over 35% of Americans own at least one tablet.

The downside to using tablets, smartphones, and other devices is the backlit display. Displays typically work through LED (light emitting diode) technology, and vary between white LED and RGB backlit designs. The white version is most often used inside mobile LCD (liquid crystal display), desktop, and notebook screens. White LEDs are normally made from a blue LED with a wide spectrum of yellow phosphor to create the emission of white light. The second type of backlit display most often found is made from an RGB LED design where red, green, and blue LEDs are controlled to produce different color temperatures of white light. Concern about blue light exposure relates to its placement on the color spectrum. Compared to longer wavelength colors within the spectrum, blue light and HEV wavelengths are shorter and glimmer easiest on backlit displays. This flicker effect causes glare, and can lower visual contrast inherently decreasing clarity and sharpness on backlit devices.

1aThe naked eye alone does not have enough protection to filter out the harmful types of blue light. Extended exposure to it can lead to retina damage and loss of vision, and it can contribute to age related macular degeneration. With 93% of teens owning or having access to a computer, it has become imperative to begin educating them about the risks of blue light, the different types, and why it’s important to protect their eyes now while using these devices.

Typical viewing distances for digital devices vary. Desktop computer screens are usually set for an approximate 22-inch focal length from the eye. This standard focal distance of about 22 inches was common with most computer use, and generally speaking, worked well for many PC users. Then, as technology changed, this standard became about 18 inches with the adaptation of more laptops. Now, with even more tablet use, we find focal lengths to have moved even closer since these devices are positioned 12-to-24 inches away. Smaller gadgets such as smart phones are even closer when used for text messaging, for example, placing even more strain on our eyes causing headaches and visual fatigue. As the day winds down, device users tend to move their backlit devices closer for visual comfort. The reason behind this is that the focusing system of their eyes begins to “lock up”, and they then move objects closer to keep the muscles of the eyes in focus. By doing so, the end result is that they only induce more stress on the eye creating greater strain and discomfort. All of this exposure to technology creates an immediate need for products that help defend our eyes from digital devices and enhance proper vision.

According to The Vision Council DigitEYEzED Report, approximately 70% of American adults experience some form of digital eyestrain due to lengthy use of electronic devices. The most common report for computer usage per day varied from 6 to 9 hours, and the number of adults now spending more than 10 hours per day rose another 4%. When it comes to computer or tablet use, the eye is simply not designed to focus on pixels and hard targets. The most likely time adults experience digital eyestrain is between 6:00pm and 9:00pm, and 63% of adults did not know that their electronics emitted high-energy visible or blue light. This was one of many staggering headlines to discover, and the figures are only expected to grow with more digital dependency and use.

Ways to prevent digital eyestrain can be tied to proper ergonomics. When it comes to using a computer, it is ideal to have overhead lighting but not brighter than the monitor. This should be the brightest light in the room, and the top of the monitor should be at eye level or just below. Proper viewing distance is key and should vary between 20 and 40 inches—one arm length from the screen. Keyboards should be placed in an area where the wrist is comfortable, and the upper arms should hang vertically with the torso. Supportive chairs that allow the user to firmly position their feet flat on the floor are needed as well. Lastly are eyeglasses that block high-energy visible blue light.

Extended computer viewing has many drawbacks to note. One is reduced blink rate. Studies have shown that a computer user’s blink rate over an extended period of time can reduce to as much as one-half to two-thirds of the normal rate at which one would blink if not working on a computer. This translates to drier and more tired eyes.

1f_webTo help combat this and enhance vision, GUNNAR Optiks offers a wide array of specialized blue light prevention gear to help protect your eyes from this entire screen-based technology. The lenses trick the eyes to think they are focusing far away, allowing the eyes to relax and feel like they are focusing at distance. Available in over-the-counter and prescription options, their lenses are designed to reduce eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, and even dry eye syndrome. One key point to note is that all over-the-counter GUNNAR lenses have a slight focusing power in their design. The power is a +0.20D add that aids with close visual needs providing extra clarity and promoting less strain.

GUNNAR’s computer glasses use proprietary wrapped lens and frame shapes to help prevent dry eye syndrome, and keep the eyes lubricated and refreshed. Their frame designs limit air currents from drying the eye, keep in healthy humidity, and allow for more visual comfort. GUNNAR views the number one alleviated symptom of computer vision syndrome is dry eye syndrome. This leads to a greater reduction of corneal abrasions, corneal scaring, and encourages protective tear film layers to remain replenished while working away at the screen.

Let’s not forget about another booming segment to consider: gamers. According to Polygon.com, more than 155 million Americans routinely play video games. Over 42% play for at least three hours per week, and at least 4-out-of-5 American homes contain some type of gaming console used to play video games. These numbers are staggering, and prove to highlight the popularity of what Americans like to do for hobbies and leisure time. Thinking in terms of lenses, all gamers can benefit from some type of blue light protective and screen-enhancing eyewear. For a more in-depth rationale on the topic, gaming is much more than just a hobby—it’s a culture. Even considering statistics from 2014, U.S. gaming consumers spent $22.41 billion on games alone. The average player is 35 years old, and the generic stereotype ends there. Gaming reaches all ages: 56% are male (and yes, the remaining 44% are female), 26% of players are under 18 years of age, and 27% of video gamers are over the age of 50.

Over time, much like the TV and cable industries, games have become digital. They are purchased frequently online rather than in a physical store, and are played on more computer devices than ever before. Committed players acknowledge that they spend at least 6 and a half hours per week playing online games with others over the internet, and another 5 hours per week playing with other players in person. Of these frequent players, 15% spend even more time playing with their partner or spouse at home. As eyecare professionals, we have a lot to consider about our patients who enjoy spending this much time intently watching screens.

1g_webIn addition, this digital shift appears to only be increasing, and console games and systems are quickly being left behind for more PC and tablet based gaming options. In 2010, the digital video game market only took a 29% share of the total gaming market. Four years later, digital sales almost doubled accounting for 52%, while physically purchased games were finally trumped and only made up 48% of the video game market.

The muscles of the eye function like the shutter and zoom of a camera. They bend and flex to allow for the items viewed to be seen as clearly as possible. Think of the muscles as if they were rubber bands. Throughout long periods of uninterrupted near-distance flexion of these eye muscles, the eye can lose elasticity and experience blurred vision, difficulty focusing, double vision, and eyestrain. GUNNAR has devoted itself to working on this extensively. Its lens design pre-focuses the light coming off of a screen to encourage the muscles of the eye to relax. In addition, the lenses enhance colors and allow details to appear sharper while looking at the screen. When setting out to find a lens material that was as tough as polycarbonate yet provides the optical clarity of glass, GUNNAR could not find one to meet its needs and created its own proprietary material. The end result is a plano mid-index of 1.51, with a low-density, high-ABBE value, and high-light transmission lens that provides minimal haze and delivers ultra-sharp optics. The lens appears to be crystal clear, and GUNNAR prides itself on its high degree of color control. Its goal is to create lenses that are enhanced to work with engineered tints and band-pass filters properly, all without any edge defects. GUNNAR claims its lens materials offer an optically-pure viewing experience with ultra-light, ergonomic properties for all screen users.

These lens ingredients make GUNNAR an ideal candidate for dedicated computer users, tablet aficionados, smartphone fanatics, and gaming enthusiasts. The lens purposely blocks out 65% of artificial HEV blue light. This percentage mimics the equivalent amount of natural blue light needed to help aid in overall health for the body and brain. The nanometer band focuses the coverage across the 400-to-450nm spectrum values which is also the most damaging to the eye. While GUNNAR primarily focuses its lens specialty on computer use, its wide range of tint enhancements allows for tailor made usage environments matched to recommended lens tints. Traditionally, the lens tint is the amber hue designed precisely for the type of light emitted from a computer screen. This tint allows the wearer to see in optimized optics, and feel the sensation of viewing the image in an eye-preferred natural light environment. The amber lens tint filters more fluorescent light and reduces high-intensity blue light, also filtering out 65% of HEV blue light at the 450nm light spectrum. While this lens tint can be worn by all, GUNNAR also produces its crystalline lens tint which is designed for graphic artists, photographers, video editors, and those who need to see in true color. This tint provides all the same benefits as the amber lenses, except it will not filter, contrast, or shift the color spectrum while worn, and it will filter out 15% of blue light at the 450nm light spectrum. The third option from GUNNAR is the non-polarized outdoor tint. It has been designed to provide a relaxed and dramatic visual experience for those who enjoy using their digital devices outdoors.

1bScreens emit glare and reflections, and any high quality optical device must have a cutting edge anti-reflective coating to reduce glare, and allow for more light to transmit through the lens to reach the eye. GUNNAR lens coatings all uphold high levels of scratch resistance while maintaining hydrophobic and oleophobic properties to reduce grease, moisture, and haze from their lenses. Prescription options are also available. Each single vision lens, regardless of power, comes with all of the coating and tint options specified above. In prescription form, GUNNAR’s material of choice is polycarbonate. However, upon special request, a 1.67 high index can also be obtained. All prescription lenses have the option to be ordered with either a crystalline or amber tinted lenses, and come with a blue flash anti-reflective coating on both sides.

Exhaustion: Then and Now

There’s an interesting and storied history of people being exhausted. We all know we have had our own days, but in a very interesting (albeit long) read, The Week has published an article that takes a look back at how society has diagnosed and approached the subject.

It’s interesting to see how different generations handled exhaustion. Regardless of how crazy some of those periods were, it’s clear feeling burned out isn’t a new thing. Now, however, we’re firmly into a new digital era where exhaustion has moved away from just being emotional or physical, to now affecting the many millions of us who spend the majority of our days staring at a screen. Digital eye strain is no joke, it’s very real (yo!), and as more and more people are afflicted, it’s our goal to continue to help spread the news. The bottom line: GUNNAR can help!

For more information about digital eye strain, click here. Now’s a good time to get protected, too! Check out our two latest styles, Enigma and Havok.

Blocking Blue Light May Help Treat Bipolar Disorder

According to a new article published by Newsweek, a recent small study of 23 bipolar disorder patients by Dr. Tone Henriksen from the University of Bergen and Valen Hospital in Norway yielded some major results. During a one-week period, 12 individuals were given eyewear designed to block blue light while the other 11 were not. No other changes were made to their lifestyles or medication. The Young Mania Rating Scale, which is designed to measure manic behavior, was then applied to the patients and those who wore the amber-tinted eyewear scored an average of 14 points lower than the others.

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The New GUNNAR Trooper

 

To better explain the significance of this study, those 14 points were more than double what doctors consider to be a “clinically significant difference”. As one researcher and psychiatrist put it, these were “knock-your-socks off results!” The important thing to point out is research into the effects of light—specifically blue light—has increased and continues to show how important it is to protect yourself. We take great strides to help protect you from the effects of digital eye strain, and we’re extremely honored by the thought that our eyewear could potentially benefit people who suffer from bipolar disorder. To learn more about what we do, click here.

Can’t Sleep? Blame the Light!

The artificial light, that is.

It’s no mystery that our world is bathed in fluorescent and LED lighting, so it comes as no surprise that sleep, for many, is being disrupted. It’s gotten so bad, even Lifehacker has jumped into the fray to talk about it, and their article stems from a recent study done by scientists at Oxford University. You see (pun mildly unintended), natural blue light is what drives our circadian rhythm (the system that tells us when to wake, and when to feel sleepy) to function, and if there were no such thing as artificial light, we wouldn’t be here writing about this. However, unprotected eyes staring at screens are flooded with blue light causing eyes to flood the brain with what’s called melanopsin.

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We don’t want to bore you—you can easily Google melanopsin to read about the science ad nauseam all you want. Simply put, artificial blue light messes with your head thus disrupting your sleep, and damaging the quality of what little sleep you may end up getting. If you can’t just turn it off, then you need a pair of GUNNARS protecting your eyes.

If you’re new to our brand, why not pick up a pair of one of the most popular styles we carry: Intercept.

Myopia: No Longer Just a Genetic Condition

Myopia is often discussed casually and its significance in leading to more severe vision disorders isn’t taken as seriously as it should be. Essentially, those with myopia—sometimes referred to as myopes—are nearsighted, and they are able to see objects which are nearby, but objects at a distance appear blurry. According to research by the National Eye Institute back in 2014, only 25% of the US population in 1972 between the ages of 12 and 54 had the condition. In 2004, that number jumped to nearly 42% of the population.

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Earlier this month, the Huffington Post published an article citing a new study by the Brien Holden Vision Institute which showed over 100 million people in the US and Canada are currently diagnosed with myopia, or high myopia. After doing research into the causes of the condition and its exponential growth, they’ve projected that by 2050, the number of sufferers will climb to over 320 million. What’s even more alarming is they’ve theorized that myopia isn’t just a genetic condition, but directly related to “environmental factors” and increasing exposure to digital devices. The full study document can be found here.

Technology has hit a new strata of connectivity and our lives have come to a point where if we’re not digitally wired, we feel uncomfortable and out of the loop. Couple the ever-increasing amount of devices were staring at all day with the rapid growth of gaming and eSports, and you’ve got a sea of people with eyes exposed to harmful blue light like the world has never seen before. It has never been more important to protect yourself than right now. GUNNAR has been saying this unapologetically for years, and we’re not going to stop! Our entire business was founded on making sure you have the highest quality eyewear available that will help you avoid the adverse effects of digital eye strain and myopia. Want the facts? We’ve got them right here.

Digital eye strain can lead to dry and irritated eyes, fatigue, blurry vision and headaches.

One day after Sarah Hinkley had been working on her computer for about five hours, she noticed her eyes started to burn and feel dry. “My focus became blurry like I was looking through a haze,” she says.

As an optometrist, Hinkley knew exactly what was wrong. She was suffering from digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome.

It’s becoming a widespread problem as more people spend hours each day looking at computers, cellphones, iPads, tablets and other electronic devices, says Hinkley, a spokeswoman for the American Optometric Association and an associate professor at the Ferris State University Michigan College of Optometry. “It is rampant, especially as we move toward smaller devices and the prominence of devices increase in our everyday lives.”

In fact, almost 70% of U.S. adults say they have experienced some of the symptoms of digital eye strain, according to a survey conducted for the Vision Council, a trade group for vision care products and services. About 60% of respondents say they spend at least six hours looking at screens daily.

The problem is starting to occur more frequently in kids, Hinkley says. “As children acquire cellphones at younger ages and are using them more frequently during the day, we are seeing the symptoms presenting in younger children more than we have before.”

The symptoms may include dry, red and irritated eyes, fatigue, eye strain, blurry vision, problems focusing, headaches, neck and shoulder pain and possibly even words moving on the screen because of underlying eye alignment issues, which are binocular vision (how the eyes work together) problems, she says. The latter is not as common as dry eyes, eye strain and blurry vision.

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There are some people who can use a computer for hours without any issues, but others who have an underlying dry eye issue may be bothered by symptoms after 10 minutes on the computer, she says. The syndrome causes discomfort but doesn’t typically cause vision loss or any permanent damage, Hinkley says.

Brooklyn optometrist Justin Bazan, a consultant to the Vision Council, says some research suggests the blue light (high-energy visible light) emitted by screens could lead to age-related macular degeneration. Studies of pig eyes show blue light damages the cells of the retina, he says.

He suggests using a pair of computer glasses that use specifically treated lens to block the potentially damaging blue light. “This is something I recommend and prescribe for my patients,” he says. These glasses are different from others prescribed for other daily activities. The standard anti-reflective coatings do not help prevent the blue light damage, he says.

James Sheedy, a professor at Pacific University College of Optometry, says that although blue light can damage the retina, the radiation from digital devices is much less than any daylight outdoor environment. Sunglass protection outdoors is much more important.

Hinkley says there is some research evidence that blue light may contribute to macular degeneration development, but further investigation is needed to explore any connection with screen use.

In the meantime, there are several approaches to treatment for digital eye strain, Hinkley says. The primary ones are to limit screen time and/or take frequent breaks. Some people use artificial tear solutions or other treatments for dryness, and others may need vision therapy including focusing therapy if they have underlying issues with their focusing or binocular vision systems. Some people need to train themselves to blink more often, she says.

Digital eye strain can be exacerbated in adults who wear prescription eyewear because sometimes bifocals and progressive lenses are not ergonomically suited for reading on the computer, she says. Anyone with symptoms of the problem should make sure their glasses are optimal for computer work, Hinkley says. They may need glasses with computer lenses or occupation lenses that work well when they are sitting at the computer.

She recommends indirect lighting on the monitor rather than a lamp pointing at the screen that may create glare. If your monitor faces a window, you should have it an angle to reduce glare.

Some businesses hire an optometrist to check the work-station ergonomics of their employees to make sure they are set up for visual efficiency and comfort, Hinkley says.

The Vision Council’s medical advisory board offers these tips to prevent or lessen digital eye strain:

  1. Take a 20-20-20 break: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
  2. Adjust the brightness of your device. Consider changing your background color from bright white to cool gray.
  3. Adjust your screen so it is directly in front of your face and slightly below eye level. Do not tilt a computer monitor.
  4. Position yourself or your device, so there is sufficient distance between your eyes and the screen.
  5. Lessen the amount of overhead and surrounding light competing with your device’s screen.
  6. When using a computer, first sit in your chair and extend your arm. Your palm should rest comfortably on the monitor as if you’re high-fiving the screen.
  7. Keep hand-held devices a safe distance from your eyes and just below eye level.
  8. Increase text size to better define the content on your screen. Use the settings control to make adjustments that feel comfortable to your eyes.
  9. Remind yourself to blink more often. Staring at a digital screen can affect the number of times you blink, causing eyes to dry.
  10. Parents should limit the amount of screen time for children and reduce their screen time in front of children to set healthy standards in the home.
  11. Blink. Breathe. Break.

Time people say they spend daily on digital devices:

  1. 33%: 3-5 hours
  2. 32%: 6-9 hours
  3. 28%: 10 or more hours
  4. 5%: 2 hours or less
  5. 2%: do not use digital devices

Source: A survey by the Vision Council