‘Digital Lenses’, although unheard of just a few years ago, are increasingly worthy of consideration. They add value to dispensing and provide potential health, safety and functional vision benefits for patients.
Modern humans are ever more connected, spending hours doing close work on a plethora of digital devices. As optometrists, it befits us to inform our patients about digital spectacle lenses and the potential benefits when using digital devices.
Let’s start by defining the ‘digital lens’ category. Although free-form spectacle lenses are referred to as ‘digital high-definition lenses’, this reflects the manufacturing process: free-form progressives and some high-end single-vision lenses are manufactured on highly sophisticated, digitally controlled lens generators, hence the term ‘digital’. In that context, a digital lens is any lens generated in this manner, as compared to more simple, moulded, spectacle lenses.
The ‘digital lenses’ we are discussing here are those designed specifically for patients using digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, gaming devices and so on…basically, anything with a screen, used close-up is a digital device for which digital lenses can be prescribed.
We’ve known about, and managed, computer vision syndrome with specialised spectacle prescribing for over three decades. Digital lens prescribing is, in many ways, an extension and evolution of this. It’s come about because, while working all day on a computer monitor is one thing, these days people are glued to digital devices while commuting, drinking coffee, eating lunch and pretty much every spare moment they have, well into the night. As such, their close-up visual demands have increased dramatically.
Digital lenses have been designed to reduce, or ideally eliminate, asthenopic symptoms associated with this long-term close up work; such as tired, sore, red, dry eyes as well as headaches, sore neck/back and other associated musculoskeletal issues. Myopia control spectacle lenses could also be thrown into this grouping as the myopia ‘epidemic’ is potentially being fuelled by excessive near visual demands.
Digital lenses have been designed to reduce, or ideally eliminate, asthenopic symptoms… such as tired, sore, red, dry eyes as well as headaches, sore neck/back and other associated musculoskeletal
Although manufacturers have done a lot of research and development into digital eyestrain, it is still early days and we are likely to see further enhancements and developments as our understanding of this relatively new field increases. It has to be acknowledged that currently, there is a dearth of ‘evidence’ to back up the claims being made about digital lenses. Regardless, we should consider the potential benefits. Patient feedback and anecdotes tell us that these lenses do provide improvement for many users. By not prescribing them are we doing more harm than good?
Along with using digital devices, people who increasingly work under energy saving LED and compact fluorescent lights (CFL), often describe them as “quite harsh”. Prescribing a light brown lens tint – around 10 to15 per cent absorption – could be beneficial for these people.
We also know that digital devices, LED and CFL lights provide increased blue light exposure. There are some concerns that high energy visible light (HEVL) in the blue spectrum around the 400nm to 450nm range can be potentially damaging to the eye, as well as disturbing for biorhythms.
Consider prescribing specific ‘blue blocking’ bandpath filters that selectively filter out these rays. Again there is a lot of information and research as to why HEVL may be harmful but, as this is a relatively new arena in prescribing, there is little evidence that blue blocking lenses actually prevent harm or improve sleep patterns.
While some people don’t find that working with digital devices, or under LED or CFL lights impact their visual comfort, and some manage by taking appropriate breaks, there are many who do complain.
Increased symptoms of asthenopia are often the reason they book an eye exam and this provides the ideal opportunity to fully assess their binocular vision and accommodative-convergence functions. Once we have this knowledge we can advise on the best form of digital lens correction and prescribe accordingly.
Many of the major lens companies now offer digital lens designs. They may be occupational, degressive or progressive designs, which reduce accommodative-convergence demand and allow the eyes and visual system to function more efficiently, over longer periods. Some digital lenses are designed to cover the near work zone within the 20cm to 80cm range for smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers and must be removed for distance visual tasks. Others are full progressives, allowing for clear distance vision as well, but one expects some compromise in the width of the near or intermediate zone.
Our switched on patients are online and knowledgeable. Doctor Google is likely to have informed them about digital eyestrain and what can be done. However, many will be new wearers, often pre-presbyopic, so we must consider the compromises and prescribing issues and discuss the pros and cons of each lens type with the patient.
Significant numbers of patients report that they suffer less asthenopia and are generally more comfortable after being prescribed digital lenses. According to Zeiss’ website “…nearly 70 per cent of adults experience some form of digital eye strain due to prolonged use of electronic devices…” Zeiss goes on to state: “90 per cent of smartphone and tablet users reported the symptoms of strained or tired eyes were reduced by a factor of four”, after using Zeiss Digital Lenses. They even have an app for consumers to use to determine if they suffer from digital eyestrain.
Prescribers and dispensers need to be up to speed on this growing category. Check out the product section that follows for some of the latest offerings in the digital realm. It’s also worth contacting suppliers and arranging a staff training session, to get the whole team on board, from the receptionist to the dispenser.
Knowledge is power.
Digital Lens Solutions
Mono Plus 2 is a full back surface digital design SV lens with a power boost, optimised using Listings law for eye rotation and EyeModel to calculate near script. It provides clear vision, both distance and near, up to the frame rim, with:
• Relaxed and fatigue-free vision at near – particularly when using digital devices, such as smartphones, e-books etc.
• Pin sharp, high-contrast vision right up to the rim of the frame thanks to EyeModel.
• In combination with Solitaire Protect Balance 2 coating, increased well-being and a balanced biorhythm.
Contact: Rodenstock Account Manager
Blue Guardian lenses block high energy blue light from entering the eye and help protect from harmful UVA and UVB energies. The blue blocking agent is embedded into the material and not in the coating. Recommended for individuals who are constantly exposed to electronic devices for work or personal reasons, as well as children as they are more susceptible to the effects of blue light.
Also available from Opticare is the Skeye Blue Multicoat – a lens coatingthat provides greater contrast and better protection while using digital devices.
Contact: Opticare Account Manager (AUS) 1800 251 852
Bonastar blueEase can increase contrast, comfort and focus while minimising eye fatigue and visual stress when using digital devices. It is proven to cut most blue light emitting from LEDs, xenon lights, energy-saving bulbs, and electromagnetic radiation from screens, and minimise the glare to provide sharp and clear vision.
blueEase can be prescribed with Bonastar single vision 1.56, 1.60, 1.67, 1.74 stock, single vision grind, OfficePro, Digital Office, dailyPro2, Ideal, and Bi-digitalPro free-form progressive lenses.
Eyezen digital screen protection lenses, now distributed by Bonastar, are created by Essilor and designed to reduce eye strain.
Contact: Bonastar Account Manager (AUS) 02 9310 1688
Eyezen offers distance vision, if needed, and three levels of support for the wearer’s accommodation (0.40D, 0.60D and 0.85D). This simple to fit lens also enhances screen contrast while giving you a choice of blue light protection.
Select either Essilor’s clear Smart Blue Filter, which cuts up to three times more blue-violet light than standard lenses or the classic Crizal Prevencia, which reflects 20 per cent of blue-violet light between 400 and 455nm.
Contact: Essilor Account Manager
Hoyalux iD WorkStyle V+ offers three design variations to meet patient’s needs:
Hoyalux iD WorkStyle V+ Close – the widest possible near area with perfect vision at intermediate distances up to one metre – for people with specialist hobbies and professions that require high levels of concentration.
Hoyalux iD WorkStyle V+ Screen – for people that require smooth, sharp depth and width vision from near distances up to two metres – ideal for computer work.
Hoyalux iD WorkStyle V+ Space – reliable distance vision up to four metres and above, with crystal clear vision on the screen, for activities where the focus is a little further than a computer screen.
Dynamic Sync for non-presbyopes reduces eye fatigue and eye strain; offers comfortable, relaxed vision in all directions and at all distances and is available with two boost add power options; up to +0.53D and up to +0.88D.|
Contact: Hoya Account Manager
Shamir Relax is an advanced single vision lens, with extra power in the lower part of the lens that eyes need to meet the accommodative challenges of today’s digital world. Now available in three viewing shifts to suit age groups: 0.50, 0.65 and 0.80 with a lens suitable for ages between 18-45.
Order Shamir Relax with Glacier Blue Shield coating to protect patients’ eyes from harmful blue light.
Contact: Shamir Account Manager
Lutina (1.6, 1.67 and 1.76 indices) cuts out 100 per cent UV and 94 per cent of HEV (400-420nm) through material absorption, potentially reducing oxidative stress and damage to the lutein and macular pigment caused by free radicals.
Lutina can be tinted and is available in single vision (stock and grind), eye assist (anti-fatigue and extended reader) and progressive.
Contact: Tokai Australia (AUS) 07 3012 9422
Unity Via Mobile lenses take into consideration the unique visual requirements of prolonged mobile device use and provide solutions that reduce eye fatigue without compromising overall clarity. This design incorporates all the benefits of Unity Via Plus lenses, such as variable wide visual fields with smooth transitions in between, along with an extra addition of 0.125D in the near vision area to deliver extra magnification and increase visual comfort.
When paired with TechShield Blue, patients will enjoy more relaxed vision. TechShield Blue targets blue light by absorbing and reflecting wavelengths associated with digital eyestrain (400- 430nm), reducing exposure by as much as 85 per cent at its peak. The near-clear coating also delivers anti-reflective benefits, including reduced glare, UV protection and minimal backside reflectance.
Contact: VSP Australia Account Manager
All Transitions lenses protect against harmful blue light. Indoors, Transitions Signature lenses block at least 20 per cent of harmful blue light – two times more than a clear lens. Transitions XTRActive and Transitions Vantage lenses block at least 34 per cent indoors, which is three times more than a clear lens.
Outdoors, where the sun is the largest singular source of harmful blue light, Transitions lenses increase the level of protection. In its activated state outdoors, Transitions Signature and Transitions Vantage lenses block over 85 per cent of harmful blue light.
Transitions XTRActive provides even more protection, blocking 88–95 per cent of harmful blue light in its activated state.
Contact: Transitions Account Manager
The Zeiss Digital Lens allows patients to easily move between their screens and the world around them, with optimum clarity and complete comfort. It provides clear, crisp, comfortable vision all day while reducing eyestrain and minimising the physical strain associated with digital device use.
The benefits of the Zeiss Digital Lens are further enhanced with the addition of Zeiss DuraVision BlueProtect, a lens coating that reflects a portion of high energy blue light, ensuring visual comfort and protection, even when there is a high blue light portion.
Contact: Zeiss Account Manager