Blue Light – What is Available to Protect Your Eyes?
In the previous article, we looked into blue light from the consumers’ perspective. In this article we will continue to explore the impact of blue light on the eyewear industry but from the manufacturers’ perspective, understand the products available and identify the gap between consumers’ knowledge and strategies to market protective eyewear products.
Every company names protective eyewear differently; it is sometimes called PC Lens, gaming eyewear, computer lens, digital lens, or anti-fatigue lens, but essentially they all block blue light and reduce eye fatigue caused by computer screens. Some of these lenses or eyewear cost a fraction of others and it is their performance that contributes to such price difference, but often consumers are unaware of the specific differences.
According to Euromonitor International, the spectacle lens category is estimated to be worth US$44 billion and forecast to increase at a CAGR of 2.6% over the 2015-2020 period. The graph below shows an overview of the regional split where Asia Pacific shows great potential in the forecast period. Step into most optical shops today and ask for a blue light blocking lens, and almost every brand will have something to offer.
Source: Euromonitor International
Gaming versus everyday use
There are many protective eyewear options on the market which claim to block out blue light, but the price varies. The reason behind this price difference is the core function of the eyewear. This can be split into two categories: gaming and everyday use eyewear.
Gaming glasses are used to protect the wearer’s eyes from glare from the computer screen and reduce eye fatigue. When gaming, if a consumer stares at the computer screen for hours at a time, a pair of gaming glasses might work. Most of these types of eyewear have amber tinted lenses to increase the contrast of the screen and a coating to block blue light. Gunnar and Syght are two of the more popular brands.
Syght Gaming Glasses
Consumers need to understand that blocking blue light alone does eradicate vision problems and if the consumer requires some visual correction, gaming eyewear will not solve their problem entirely. The main reason behind eye fatigue is long hours spent in close proximity to a screen. While this concept is not new to Eye Care Practitioners (ECP), it is not a concept consumers understand unless they are willing to find out more. A combination of blue blocking coating and near accommodating lens design is required, and most ophthalmic lens manufacturers have lenses that cater for such correction. For example, Essilor’s Anti-fatigue and Eyezen, Carl Zeiss Digital lens and Hoya Sync, all these lens designs take into consideration near work accommodation and blue light coating.
Source: EssilorEyeLounge facebook
Consumers are often victims in such situations due to a lack of awareness and knowledge, relying entirely on the marketing message. Often they do not fully understand what they have purchased and whether or not it really solves their problem. Some brands of gaming eyewear, for example, only block blue light and essentially may cause more eye fatigue.
Less blue light – functional eyewear on the rise
As discussed in the previous opinion, blue light does not cause fatigue, instead blue light keeps consumers alert, boost alertness, memory, rational thinking and etc but causes more harm to the eye as it reaches deeper into the eye causing damage to the retina, therefore less blue light exposure is advised to prevent more damage to the eyes.
The role of the ECP is to prescribe a pair of lenses which meet the needs of the consumer. Consumers rely on the expertise of the ECP to recommend what is most suitable for them. Thus, the ECP is the bridge between manufacturers and consumers; the person equipped with technical knowledge and skills, as well as updates on the latest products available, someone consumers trust and rely on for their visual needs.
In my opinion, through more research and technological advancements, manufacturers will continue to develop more functional eyewear to suit the lifestyle of different consumer; from office lenses, to digital device lenses, driving lenses, myopia control lenses for children, and many more. Consumers continue to demand higher quality in both products and services. ECPs will continue to play multiple important roles as educators, eyecare providers, retailers, and communicators between manufacturers and consumers.