To help address these issues, UnitedHealthcare has donated $20,000 to Fort Bend Independent School District for technology, plus 1,000 screen protectors from Eyesafe with blue-light-filtering properties. And strangely enough, this move was made to help address an issue that have arisen due to COVID-19.
A side effect of the global pandemic has been a major uptick in the number of hours Americans spend in front of computer screens. Before the pandemic started, computer users in this country spent between seven and 10 hours per day logging on. However, that number has risen sharply, to 13 hours a day with our eyeballs affixed to computer screens.
And with this increased screentime has come an increased exposure to blue light, which may have potential short- and long-term health implications, including potential damage to retina cells, disrupted sleep cycles, and digital eye strain.
“Digital eye strain due in part to increased screen time is becoming a more significant issue for many Americans, including professionals working remotely and students using laptops or tablets as part of course curriculum,” said John Ryan, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Vision.
The donations are part of a national public awareness campaign focused on children’s eye health, helping support the well-being of young people as they spend more time using digital devices for learning and fun.
“We are taking a comprehensive approach to help our more than 23 million vision members and people across the country reduce their exposure to blue light, enhancing our whole-person approach to health benefits and vision care. Likewise, we are proud to make this donation to Fort Bend Independent School District, as these funds will help support the eye health – and therefore the overall health – of students in the area for years to come,” added Ryan.
“Student learning looks different today than it did a few years ago. Teachers have integrated more technology into the classrooms, providing students with greater access to digital devices,” said Justin Barrett, the CEO of Eyesafe. “It is more important than ever that we take proactive measures to reduce children’s exposure to blue light. This donation of Eyesafe® Blue Light Screen Filters to the Fort Bend Independent School District will provide a valuable benefit to students.”
In addition to the technology and screen protector donations, UnitedHealthcare’s chief eye care officer, Dr. Scott Edmonds, has provided FBISD and the general public with the following eye health tips:
Use the 20-20-20 rule. The 20-20-20 rule recommends that after 20 minutes of computer work, people take 20 seconds to look at something that’s approximately 20 feet away. Other strategies include keeping devices at least 30 inches from the eyes and switching to a task for which the eyes don’t have to focus on something up close, such as going outside for a walk.
Blue-light-blocking technology. Smartphones now include a “night mode” feature, which adjusts the screen’s setting to help filter out blue light. Likewise, specialized screen protectors can feature blue-light-filtering properties, while also helping prevent cracks or scratches. To help block blue light at the source, some computer manufacturers are embedding blue-light-filtering technology into the screens.Get a comprehensive eye exam. It’s a good idea to periodically get an eye exam every year. Plus, a comprehensive eye exam may uncover other health conditions not usually associated with the eyes, including diabetes and some types of cancer. For children, remember that a school’s vision check is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam, as screenings usually focus on measuring acuity levels and might miss conditions such as poor eye alignment, focusing problems and farsightedness.