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Blue Light Technology: These lenses have the potential to limit patients’ exposure, enhancing their vision and health – and your second pair revenues.

PECAA Member, Dr. Keely Hoban from Tigard Vision Center in Tigard, OR explains the importance of blue light protection for her patients, how to prescribe blue light lenses and how to boost second pair sales. This article is part of PECAA’s sponsored editorial series, appearing in the May, 2014 issue of Optometric Management.

Patients spend so much time using digital devices, exposing themselves to the blue light they emit. How does that affect the way optometrists treat them?
“We’ve known for a long time that ultraviolet light contributes to macular degeneration. Studies have shown that blue light, located next to ultraviolet on the light spectrum, also increases the risk for macular degeneration,” (1,2) explains Keely Hoban, OD, of Tigard Vision Center in Tigard, Ore. “We’re all exposed to blue light through fluorescent and LED lighting, as well as by looking at smart phones, computer screens and TVs.” According to Dr. Hoban, lenses that block blue light offer the long-term benefit of reducing the macular degeneration risk, as well as such short-term advantages as fewer headaches, less eye strain and healthier sleep patterns.
“Because melatonin is sensitive to blue light, using devices before bed can disturb circadian rhythms, which influence a number of health factors such as energy levels and weight,” she says.
For the health and comfort of her patients, Dr. Hoban prescribes blue-light lenses.

Prescribing Blue Light Lenses

Dr. Hoban credits her doctor alliance group, Professional Eye Care Associates of America (PECAA) for increasing her awareness of products such as blue light technology lenses and increasing her access to training. “We’re always reading about the latest technologies through PECAA newsletters, and the webinars are a helpful and convenient way to learn more,” she says.
Blue light isn’t exactly an everyday term for laypeople, but Dr. Hoban has found that some of her patients who work with computers are aware of it.
“There is awareness among computer users, some of whom know that software is available to fluctuate the light of a monitor or smart phone based on the time of day,” she explains. “We have educational brochures in our waiting area to introduce patients to the idea, and our staff and doctors talk to patients about blue light. We also get the word out via our social media platforms.”
Dr. Hoban and her colleagues recommend blue light technology lenses patients who use computers all day at work or school, particularly those patients who complain of eye strain. The practice also recommends the lenses for older patients with light sensitivity and patients with pseudophakic dysphotopsia or conditions such as albinism that allow light to reach the retina unfiltered.
“When I ask them to compare wearing blue light lenses to using their regular glasses, they often report that they’re experiencing fewer headaches and less eye strain,” Dr. Hoban says.

Boosting Second Pair Sales

Every pair of blue light eyeglasses that Dr. Hoban prescribes is a second pair of eyeglasses, typically used only during computer use.
“Last month, I prescribed 20 pairs of blue technology eyeglasses, representing a 15% increase in my second pair sales,” she says. “We’re seeing some word of mouth among computer users, and we’d like to see younger patients in ‘computer glasses’ for their long-term eye health. I think it’s a growing market and blue technology eyeglasses will eventually be standard of care products.”

REFERENCES
1. Klein R, Klein BE, Knudtson M, Meuer S, Swift M, Gangnon
R. Fifteen-year cumulative incidence of age-related macular
degeneration: the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Ophthalmology.
2007;114(2):253-262.
2. Wang JJ, Foran S, Smith W, Mitchell P. Risk of age-related
macular degeneration in eyes with macular drusen or
hyperpigmentation: the Blue Mountains Eye Study cohort. Arch
Ophthalmol. 2003;121(5):658-663.

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