Study Probes ODs’ Attitudes About Blue-Light Blocking Devices

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VANCOUVER—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, according to reporting by Patrick Campbell in MD Magazine. The study, titled “Insights into Australian optometrists’ knowledge and attitude toward prescribing blue light-blocking ophthalmic devices,” was published in the Journal of the College of Optometrists and presented at the 2019 meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) held here recently.

Investigators from Australia analyzed surveys from 372 optometrists and found that while more than 75 percent had prescribed blue light-blocking devices, only 44 percent felt daily exposure caused retina damage and about half considered placebo effects, at least sometimes, played a role in patients’ experiences with these devices.

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

After analyses, investigators found that 44.1 percent of optometrists considered daily exposure to blue light devices caused retinal damage, while 21.5 percent did not consider it to cause retinal damage and 34.4 percent 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 percent) of optometrists reported recommending blue-light blocking spectacle lenses in their practices and 92 (24.7 percent) reported never having prescribed these lenses. Of those who reported never prescribing blue-light blocking lenses, 54.4 percent said they lacked clinical justification, 34.8 percent reported lack of availability, and 9.8 percent reported a lack of knowledge on the products.

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

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

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