By Gina M. Wesley, OD, MS, FAAO
Feb. 3, 2016
Offer your patients optical products that can help to protect their eyes from the potential dangers from blue light emitted by digital devices.
EXPLAIN NEW FINDINGS. Discuss with patients how blue light emitted from digital devices may affect their daily visual comfort and eye health.
TIE TO FAMILY HISTORY. Let patients with family histories of macular degeneration know that blue light-protecting lenses may help prevent, or slow, the development of macular degeneration.
EDUCATE STAFF. Have staff wear blue light-protecting lenses in your office, so they can talk with patients about their first-hand experience with the lenses.
We’re just beginning to understand the possible impact of blue light on vision and eye health. As I learn more about the hazards of certain forms of blue light, I am passing this information on to my patients, and prescribing products sold in our optical that can help them.
Explain Emerging Findings
I discuss with patients how more research and studies are being done that show how blue light emitted from digital devices such as computers, hand-held tablets, smartphones, and even LED light bulbs and florescent lights, affects our overall daily visual comfort, as well as health. So many of my patients work on a computer all, or most, of the day, and then are on other devices throughout the evening in their leisure time, that they can relate to their eyes feeling fatigued, strained, and possibly having headaches, too.
I discuss how blue light is important in nature to set our natural circadian rhythms, but how we get such an abnormal amount, it tells our brains to stay awake. This affects not only how we feel, but can increase risk for other health conditions such as weight gain, and all that comes with that health condition. I also highlight how blue light in high levels is also potentially damaging to our retinas, increasing the risk of AMD. To back up my claims, I have brochures that outline blue light risks.
Choose Products to Offer
BluTech lenses are our primary blue light-protecting product because I’m convinced it offers the widest spectrum of blue light protection. There are many products out there that block a portion of the blue light spectrum, such as some AR products, but none that block the amount that BluTech lenses do.
According to BluTech, blue light comprises approximately the 400-500 nanometer spectrum, and different wavelengths cause different issues. Visual fatigue/blur is in the 400-420, risk for AMD is in the 420-440, and sleep pattern disruption is in the 440-500 range. Per information posted to BluTech’s web site, “BluTech lenses contain both ocular melanin and ocular lens pigment, filtering the harmful effects of light below 500nm.”
I’m also selling the Digihealth screens for smartphones from eHealth that block about 60 percent of a range of blue light. For some patients, this product is a stepping stone and additional protection, and a great add-on.
Thanks to my Vision Source member relationship with my vendor, I have great pricing options on a variety of blue light products. However, I sell pre-made plano BluTech specs in frames of my choosing, as well as offer Rx BluTech specs for patients, at much of the same costs as what doctors are used to for “clear” specs. We sell this to patients as an add-on, much like Transitions. I sell anywhere from 20-30 pairs (plano or Rx) per month, and this has now become my number one second- or third-pair sale in the office as of four months ago.
An ad for BluTech Lenses on Dr. Wesley’s web site. Dr. Wesley says to explain to patients the emerging findings about blue light, and how there are now lenses available to block potentially harmful blue light from reaching your eyes.
Address Skeptical Patients
When approached with doubt, I just educate patients that all of this information is relatively new, but continued research is supporting the findings. Just like UV exposure to the eyes was initially met with skepticism, blue light will have its doubters, but my job is not to convince; it’s to educate one patient at a time. I believe in it, and have noticed a difference in my own daily life by wearing my BluTech lenses.
I tell my patients my own personal story, and then share that of so many patients who have found relief when wearing them daily. I plant the proverbial seed and hope they will be convinced the next time.
I explain to patients that the BluTech lenses absorb high-energy blue light instead of their eyes, thus making them more comfortable. The proof is in the wearing of the lenses, though. Once people try them, they can feel it for themselves.
Tie Blue Light Protection to Family History
I educate the patient that my job is to tell them about all the protection they can possibly put in place to limit the risk of developing AMD, and that blue light is considered a part of that risk now. At the very least, we know it’s not hurting the patient. It’s a lens. I tell patients to think of this as “sunglasses for the digital world.”
Educate Staff About Blue Light-Protecting Products
I made sure my opticians and all staff are well-versed on blue light, and most of them regularly wear BluTech lenses themselves. They are some of the biggest believers, and that has resulted in greater patient follow through.
I have also brought in my BluTech rep a couple of times to educate us all, so we can speak confidently about the lens we use.
Market Your Blue Light-Protecting Products
We give out a lot of BluTech brochures and hand-outs to patients, which are definitely noticed, especially by moms who are concerned about kids’ screen time as much of that is mandatory now in school.
In addition to writing articles like this about the dangers of blue light, I also speak publicly about the importance of blue light-protecting products, and we post on our web site and on Facebook about it.