Optometrists' Attitudes Towards Blue-Light Blocking Devices


A study from ARVO 2019 found that, while optometrists are likely to prescribe them, many are still split over the impact of blue light-blocking devices

blue light, blue light-blocking devices, optometrists

A recent study found that optometrists remain split on the impact of blue light from electronic devices, such as computer and phone screens, and the effectiveness of blue light-blocking devices.

The study, which was presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, analyzed surveys from 372 optometrists and found that while more than 75% had prescribed blue light-blocking devices, only 44% felt daily exposure caused retina damage and about half considered placebo effects, at least sometimes, playing a role in patients’ experiences with these devices.

Investigators from Australia sought to determine optometrists’ knowledge and attitudes towards blue light-blocking devices through a 29-item survey administered at an optometry education conference and an online survey. In total, 326 responded at the conference and 139 responded online. Of those, 372 were included for analysis.

Of the respondents included, 43.5% were male and 56.2% were female. Corporate practice (47.7%) was the most common form of optometric practice among respondents followed by independent practice (41.4%), academic (6.3%), public health clinical and other (1.9%), refractive surgery clinic (.5%), and hospital clinic (.3%). More than a third (34.7%) reported having more than 21 years of optometric practice experience, 30.7% reported having less than 5 years, 15.6% reported having between 6 and 10, 11.3% had between 11 and 15, while 7.8% reported having between 16 and 20 years of experience. 

After analyses, investigators found that 44.1% of optometrists considered daily exposure to blue light devices caused retinal damage, while 21.5% did not consider it to cause retinal damage and 34.4% were unsure of its retinal effects. Approximately half nominated blue light from computer screens as a cause of computer vision syndrome (CVS).

A total of 280 (75.3%) of optometrists reported recommending blue-light blocking spectacle lenses in their practices and 92 (24.7%) reported never having prescribed these lenses. Of those who reported never prescribing the, 54.4% said they lacked clinical justification, 34.8% reported lack of availability, and 9.8% reported a lack of knowledge on the products.

More than half (53%) of optometrists surveyed considered placebo effects to at least “sometimes” play a role in patients’ experience with blue-light blocking devices. Additionally, 49.1% of optometrists felt that the quality of evidence supporting the device for managing CVS was low, 40.1% felt there was moderate evidence, 7.1% believed there was no published evidence and just 3.8% felt there was high quality evidence.

Authors noted that, in the 12 months preceding the survey, an estimated 30% of spectacle lens products prescribed by practitioners were blight light-blocking lenses. More than 66% of respondents claimed to have started prescribing blue-light blocking devices within the past 3 years, with 33.1% reporting to have first prescribed such a device in 2016 and 32.3% reporting having done so for the first time in 2017.

A majority (90%) of respondents reported believing blue light to be an important factor when regulating sleep patterns. Authors noted in their findings that the 2 main sources of information used to guide practitioners’ approaches were conference presentations (50%) and manufacturer product information (47.5%).

This study, titled “Insights into Australian optometrists’ knowledge and attitude towards prescribing blue light-blocking ophthalmic devices,” was published in the Journal of the College of Optometrists and presented at ARVO 2019.

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