Dr. Richard Pan’s SCR 73 Establishes October 10th as Blue Light Awareness Day in California

More research shows the long-term health concerns associated with cumulative blue light exposure from our electronic screen devises; October 10th is also World Sight Day

October 9, 2019

SACRAMENTO – With more than 80 million electronic devices with digital screens in the state of California, and average screen time exceeding 9 hours per day, exposure to blue light has become a serious concern for public health. Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), Chair of the Senate Health Committee kicks off Blue Light Awareness Day by speaking to the health hazards posed by extended exposure to blue light from digital devices, in conjunction with World Sight Day

“The impact of high energy blue light emissions on children is a significant health concern,” said Dr. Richard Pan, pediatrician and State Senator. “The resolution, passed by unanimous and bi-partisan support in both the Senate and Assembly, demonstrates that when it comes to protecting public health and educating around emerging health concerns, California will take the lead.”

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of the California State Legislature’s passage of SCR 73, a resolution which outlines the growing body of evidence and scientific research related to the long-term health impacts of extended exposure to blue light from digital devices.  Those devices include: computer monitors, phones and tablets, that, absent blue light reducing filters, project high levels of toxic blue light into consumers’ eyes. With the passage of SCR 73, The State of California encourages all its citizens, particularly children whose eyes are still developing, to consider taking protective safety measures in reducing eye exposure to high-energy visible blue light.

California State Senate and Assembly Health Committees began looking at the issue of high energy blue light emissions from digital devices and screens in 2018, and in particular, the increased usage of, and access to, digital devices by young children and adolescents whose eyes are particularly susceptible to long-term damage from blue light.

Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and medical researchers continue to learn more about the dangers associated with blue-light exposure.  The scientific community has produced a large and growing body of research, which identifies a multitude of known and emerging potential long-term health concerns for all age groups with cumulative blue light exposure due to digital screen usage.

About Blue Light

Blue light, or high-energy visible blue light, represents a short wavelength light that is natural, but also emitted in high levels by consumer electronic devices. The increased usage of, and access to, digital devices by young children and adolescents is an acute area of concern, as ophthalmologists, optometrists, and medical researchers continue to learn more about the short-term effects of increasing and cumulative exposure to artificial blue light on the developing human eye and mental health at a young age, along with long-term potential cumulative effects on adult eye health and mental development (4,5,6,7). The scientific community and recent studies have identified growing concerns over potential long-term eye and health impacts for all age groups from digital screen usage and cumulative blue light exposure emitted from digital devices (8,9,10,11). Blue light has been reported to cause visual discomfort in 65 percent of Americans (12,13); and has been associated with possible harmful effects on retinal cell physiology linked to the high-energy, short wavelength in the narrow range of 415-455nm (4,14,15). Cumulative blue light exposure from digital devices has been shown to disrupt sleep cycles by suppressing the natural release of melatonin and has also been linked to premature aging of the retina, which could accelerate potential long-term vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration, and decreased alertness, memory and emotional regulation impacts (4,15,17). Screen time can take a toll on vision health and comfort, leading to symptoms of digital eye strain, dry and irritated eyes (8,18).

About World Sight Day

According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment.

https://www.iapb.org/advocacy/world-sight-day/

 

Sources:

  1. Estimate based upon data from PEW Research Center: Demographics of Mobile Device Ownership and Adoption in the United States, June 12, 2019. https://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/ and U.S. Census for California: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/CA/PST045218
  2. The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/the-common-sense-census-media-use-by-tweens-and-teens  
  3. Computer vision syndrome (a.k.a. digital eye strain), by Mark Rosenfield, Optometry in Practice 2016, Volume 17, Issue 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21480937
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  17. Vision Council. “2016 Digital Eye Strain Report.” https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/sites/default/files/2416_VC_2016EyeStrain_Report_WEB.pdf
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Dr. Richard Pan is a parent, small business owner, former UC Davis educator and pediatrician who represents Sacramento, West Sacramento, Elk Grove and unincorporated areas of Sacramento County in the state legislature and is the Chair of the Senate Health Committee. As a legislator, Dr. Pan continues to practice medicine at WellSpace Health Oak Park Community Clinic, pursuing his passion for working with families to build healthier communities.