We spend most of our time looking at screens. The number of devices we use regularly has increased significantly, as has the time we spend on them for work, e-commerce, social media, physical activity, gaming, education, etc.
Remote and hybrid work has made people more aware of screen time and concerns about increasing exposure to blue light. Studies have shown that prolonged exposure to this light can cause damage to eye tissue and affect sleep patterns.
In response, major display manufacturers are using a new rating system, similar to SPF sunscreen, designed to set standards for measuring blue light and color performance.
By adopting the Eyesafe® 2.0 certification, manufacturers hope to provide consumers with transparency when purchasing devices. Panel manufacturers including Lenovo, Dell, HPHPQ, LG Display and BOE have adopted certification standards that consumers will be able to see later this year.
Lenovo recently released three new monitors, the first to accept the new Eyesafe® Certified 2.0 status. “The company is passionate about creating products that deliver high value while addressing security issues,” said Stefan Engel, vice president and general manager of Lenovo’s visual business.
Consumer concerns about blue light safety
In addition to damaging eye tissue and affecting sleep, studies have shown that long-term exposure to blue light can lead to AMD (age-related macular degeneration), the most common cause of blindness and vision loss, and can contribute to cataracts, eye cancer, and the growth of the transparent coating on the the white part of the eye.
Parents of school-age children, many of whom use computers for long periods of time, and students who must use digital content at school are becoming more aware of the problem of blue light.
The number of game users has grown significantly in recent years, and the number of hours the average gamer spends on the device per day has also increased, leading to the need for more secure devices on the market.
Research and collaboration drive product innovation
Today’s consumers can try to adjust their behavior to reduce exposure to blue light emissions by wearing blue light filtering glasses or screen protectors. However, these solutions do not solve the problem at the device level.
Companies that made additional protective equipment claimed that their products offered consumers some protection from blue light, but Paul Herro, director of operations at Eyesafe, said many of these products were not certified.
“Many claims throughout the industry were untrue and led consumers to believe that the products removed or filtered blue light,” Herro said.
Prior to 2018, measuring blue light emissions was simply pass or fail without any specific scale. TÜV Rheinland, an independent certifier of industry standards, has worked with Eyesafe and the electronics industry to ensure that its certification standards address concerns about blue light emissions and color performance at the device level.
Eyesafe Vision’s Health Advisory Board consists of eye care professionals who consult with Eyesafe to provide medical information to help conduct research into the effects of blue light on the eyes and brain.
According to the document Defining Blue Light Requirements for Digital Displays, published by global supplier TÜV Rheinland, blue light has a greater potential than other wavelengths of visible light to cause tissue damage. The long-term health effects of cumulative blue light emissions from digital devices are still being evaluated. However, there are immediate and everyday effects of screen use, such as the impact on our biological clock and sleep patterns. At night, exposure to light can “trick” the body, making it difficult to sleep.
“Consumers are looking at screens from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep,” said Herro, COO of Eyesafe. He observed that blue light emissions would significantly affect younger generations as their exposure increased throughout their lives. The rating system would help consumers compare the exposure levels of different devices.
“The new Eyesafe® Certified 2.0 standard adds much-needed specificity to the overall low blue light concept,” said Frank Holzmann, global field manager for electrical and business products at TÜV Rheinland. “This allows consumers to make informed comparisons between competitors.”
RPF can be compared to SPF in sunscreen
The industry standard for measuring the impact of blue light is called the Radiation Protection Factor, or RPF. Scores range from 0 to 100, with 35 being the minimum score for passing certification.
Similar to sunscreen, which has an SPF rating to estimate the level of protection from the sun’s UV rays, devices with an RPF of 35 or higher will provide consumers with an easy way to identify safe levels of blue light emission. “The update simplifies and focuses the requirements on the area of greatest concern for high-energy blue light and provides a simple metric to help consumers understand reduction levels,” said Dr. David Friess, chairman of the Eyesafe Health Advisory Board.
RPF will make it easier to identify the level of blue light mitigation and color performance, but “there are other factors that users might look for when choosing a computer, including response time, resolution and processing time,” he said. Engel, CEO of Lenovo.
Different determining factors
Consumers will classify features differently based on their own needs, Engel said. For example, a player values Eyesafe certificates based on time spent on gaming devices. A student may consider the weight of the device a more important factor if they have to carry it to and from school every day.
Lenovo’s latest monitors have improved color accuracy, he said, noting how relevant that is to many users. “Fashion and graphic designers, for example, need to be sure that the colors they see on the screen reflect what will be in the product.”
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