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Chatham Facial Plastic Surgery

Screen Face! Is your computer screen making you look older?

Is your computer screen making you look older?

In these times, is there anyone not looking at computer screens and cell phones many times daily? This habit may make us smarter or stupider or waste lots of our time.  But could it be hazardous?

First, note the average American worker spends seven hours a day on the computer either in the office or home.

We already know that hours of computer screen gazing of LED light can affect our eyes. This makes many individuals susceptible to the development of vision-related symptoms. Uncorrected vision problems can increase the severity of Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain symptoms.

AFP photo / Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

But is this also harmful to our skin??

‘Screen Face’ is one of our newest digital technology afflictions, say some.

The culprit is the high-energy visible light (HEV ) otherwise known as ‘blue light’-shorter wavelengths of light in the violet-blue band. This is light in the visible spectrum of 400-500 nm.

Blue light is emitted by fluorescent lighting and LEDs, including TV screens, smartphones, tablets and computers. This light is ‘silent’, meaning that it does not generate immediate erythema (reddening of the skin) or edema (swelling), as UV rays can do.

“HEV light can weaken our barrier function, accelerate photo-aging and suppress healing.  Infrared light and UVA/B rays penetrate deeper into our skin as opposed to light in the visible spectrum.” says Dr Maryam Zamani a London -based occuloplastic surgeon.

“HEV light could be the ninja of skin aging; silent but deadly in terms of early onset lines and dark spots”.

Screen Face: is this a real issue?

Aren’t most of the computer screens today the flat top or LCD monitors and not the old ‘box shaped’ monitors which were not as safe?

And do we need protection from blue light? Well, a spectrum of beauty brands, from Soap & Glory to Lancome,

promote the HEV-blocking properties of their products. And a melanin compound (Liposhield® HEV Melanin), is the first cosmetic ingredient purposely designed to protect skin from damaging HEV rays. If the beauty industry has its way in addition to sunscreen we might also be using ‘screen screen’!

A study from 2014 found that blue light did indeed produce more hyper-pigmentation than UVB alone. Pigmented screen face!

Melasma is one type of hyperpigmentation. Melasma is caused by UVB, UVA, Infrared, and visible light exposure from the sun or indoor lights (halogens, fluorescents, computer screens) as well as heat sources (stoves, saunas).

Although UV light plays a major role in the etiology of melasma, another study also implicates visible light.

This study showed that visible light can induce pigmentation in patients with skin type V (darker skin types) , but not type II. For darker skinned patients this is bad news. Accordingly, if a patient works at a computer screen or simply steps outside, visible light is streaming, making melasma more difficult to treat.

And it gets worse, say some scientists. Monitors create an electrostatic field that attracts floating dust that can then settle on the skin and cause dryness, irritation, and allergic reactions—particularly in poorly ventilated areas. Now that’s an unwanted strain of bad screen face!

Are there other possible side effects of hours of computer viewing?

What about dark eye circles? While dark eye circles can be hereditary or from lack of sleep, spending long hours in front of your computer may aggravate the condition.

What about ‘crow’s feet’, the clusters of wrinkles that appear around the outer corners of eyes. When we are on our computer for too long, eyes tend to become tired and we tend to blink more or squint and that can contribute to crow’s feet.

But there is more research to be done. Don’t forget that UVA (ultraviolet A) rays can penetrate through glass and this is all year long. if you’re sitting in front of a computer all day, and your monitor is next to a window, perhaps the greatest effect is not the computer, but the UVA.

It’s worth noting that using a laptop or phone outdoors causes an increase in exposure to UVB and UVA light due to the reflective qualities of the screen. The combination of UV exposure plus the exposure to HEV light may invite double trouble. Double screen face?

It is also very possible that science will prove this correlation, just as we now know that pollution affects the skin.

In terms of the data that’s available now, UV light (sunlight) is much more harmful to skin than the light from computers and mobile devices.

So maybe taking even a million selfies or using a computer for 100 years, would not be as impactful as spending a single day in the sun unprotected?

So is reading this in front of your own computer screen causing your concern, maybe even frowning or squinting? Careful!

You may also end up with premature frown lines!

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