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In this two part opinion, we will look into blue light and how it impacts consumers and the eyewear industry. In Part 1 we will look at blue light from the consumer perspective, exploring what blue light is, how it impacts consumers, and what consumers can do to control the amount of blue light they are exposed to. In Part 2, we will look at blue light from the manufacturers’ perspective, understand the products available and identify the gap between consumer knowledge and strategy to market such product.
For many years the industry has focused on the harmfulness of UV rays, but some research shows that blue light causes more harm than UV rays. Scientific research into blue light is still on-going, and many research projects are taking place to determine the good and bad elements of blue light, as well as the impact it has on consumers’ health and eyes.
First we look at blue light and how harmful it is. According to scientific research, blue light is more harmful than UV light. Blue light is the visible light spectrum which reaches deeper into the eye and can cause damage to the retina. Blue light is everywhere; sunlight is the main source of blue light. Other than sunlight, we are also exposed to indoor blue light from fluorescent and LED lighting, such as computer screens, smartphones and other digital devices. Although the amount of blue light emitted through these devices is much less than from the sun, the amount of time consumers spend using such devices and the proximity of these screens can affect their eyes in the long run.
Research also shows that not all blue light is bad; some blue light exposure is essential. Blue light plays an important role in our daily life, exposure to blue light in the day helps to boost alertness, memory, rational thinking and uplifts the mood, maintaining a balance. On the other hand, too much blue light at night will potentially affect our sleep quality, causing fitful sleep or daytime fatigue.
To block blue light, filters and protective eyewear are the two most common methods use by consumers. Filters can be applied to digital devices to filter away the blue light emitted from the screen. For example, Eyesafe, iLLumiShield, RetinaShield, Retina Armor, Frabicon and Cyxus. Other than these filters, there are also applications which consumers can install to reduce the blue light.
Protective eyewear on the other hand, is less straight forward than filters because they involve optics. Traditionally, eyewear is sold through eyecare practitioners in an optical retail shop but protective eyewear is available almost everywhere; online, through pharmacies, and department stores. Interestingly, we increasingly see protective eyewear being sold through gaming stores or gaming websites, but what are the differences between these and those sold through optical retail shops? In the next opinion, we will look into the differences between these two types of protective eyewear and the impact on consumers.