Studying blue light

We explore the theme with Dr. Francesco Loperfido – Head of the General Ophthalmology Unit of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan.

Blue light is of the highest concern to the industry. Where are we from a scientific point of view and what do you think about the products on the market?

It is a highly controversial issue and should be tackled focusing on the probable retinal damage caused directly by blue light as a result of accumulation. Research is being conducted on its irradiation at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan: the data are not definitive but they are merging towards the conclusion that it could lead to suffering retinal cells. The basic concept is that intense radiation and in a short space of time causes damage to retinal cells, but it is necessary to verify the effect of irradiation at less aggressive frequencies and its long-term implications.

The Institut de la Vision in Paris has conducted the same research with similar results. The answer to the various doubts will come from comparing the work of university clinics, which have carried out research on the matter, to then analyse the results.

In general, the theme of blue light and its damage must be tackled in relation to the fact that the number of young people who are increasingly exposed to blue light through the use of tablets, smartphones, etc. is growing.

With regard to the part of the question related to the optical industry, I think it is positive that it has undertaken to propose lenses that block the frequency of blue-purple light, which is most at fault for determining this damage compared with blue-turquoise light that affects the sleep/wake rhythm.

Do you think the consumer is correctly informed?

The consumer is partially informed. I believe that to offer suitable information the industry should accompany each visual solution with an explanatory brochure.

And the medical profession?

Ophthalmologists are correctly informed. The problem is how to communicate this matter to the population and the effective tool is prevention.

How do your patients react to this issue?

In general, when the patient is informed he gives it adequate attention. Some are partially informed and adapt the information to their lifestyle.

I think it is important to implement synergy between the optician and the ophthalmologist to provide suitable answers.

What is the advice you feel like giving for visual wellness in the various age groups?

I would divide the population into three groups: children, adults and the elderly.

The eye of the child is growing and is more sensitive to luminous stimuli. Sunglasses are useful, but they must be matched with quality frames and lenses. If they have sight defects, it would be appropriate to have sunglasses and eyeglasses.

With regard to the second group, adults, it is essential not to neglect the quality of the lens and choose it based on personal lifestyles, work and sports activity.

I would divide the elderly group into two further segments: patients who are developing a cataract and patients who have undergone surgery for the same reason. The cataract makes us see less but it is like a sun lens that protects us. The elderly don’t often wear sunglasses: a greater attention to eyeglasses and sunglasses is important to maintain vitreous body and retina that age. However, cataract development leads to a slow and progressive decline of the visus without the patient perceiving the involution except in the late phases. In the post-operative phase, it is essential to protect oneself because the crystalline we insert is transparent and therefore much more light enters than that which the patient is used to (photophobia). In this case, the use of a photochromic lens is essential.

What can we learn from the international panorama? Are there best practices that we could adopt in Italy?

Sometimes, we do what is done abroad. But we have to pay attention to two important themes: the use of sunglasses and the correct use of an eyeglass frame when we are driving.

With regard to sunglasses, it is clear that the potential differs from country to country and intensity of light in the Mediterranean Basin, and therefore in Italy too, it is stronger than in Scandinavian Countries.

Another problem in Italy is that the law allows people to drive even with a vision of 8/10 in the best eye and 4 in the worst eye, while one of the best practices is to have a lens which allows to see with 10/10 vision when this is possible… seeing better in a dynamic view like at the steering wheel is safety for self and for others.