TL; DR: Digital screens allow consumers to stay connected and modern tech workers to accomplish tasks remotely. But they also emit blue light, a wavelength that can cause eye strain and disrupt sleep patterns. Ocushield develops screen filters, eyeglasses, and other products that help both casual and professional users eliminate harmful blue light from their devices. And the company continues to come up with new ways to protect as many eyes as possible by innovating new products, including nutritional supplements and soothing eye drops.
Most of us can picture someone with their eyes glued to their mobile device as the world goes on around them. That mental image shows how technology has influenced social behavior in the modern world.
While the social impact of technology is certainly profound, devices also have a significant effect on physical health that many people may not be aware of. Digital screens emit blue light, which is good in moderation during the day, but that can lead to health issues when people are exposed to it for extended periods.
Blue light is a range of wavelengths of visible light that include colors from violet to cyan. Narrow-spectrum blue light is a more powerful version commonly found in LED lighting and digital screen technology.
Dhruvin Patel wanted to understand the impact of blue light when he began studying optometry at City, University of London, in 2011. While there, he researched how blue light could cause eye strain, disrupt physiology, and alter circadian rhythms — or natural sleep patterns.
“I found that the problem from blue light was not just related to visual stress, including eye strain headaches, but it could also affect sleep by inhibiting melatonin, and cause even wider health issues,” Dhruvin said. “At the time, I envisioned devices getting bigger and brighter, and I wanted to create a solution.”
So Dhruvin developed Ocushield, a line of filters that block the harmful blue light from a range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. The filters are made from a thin film that adheres directly to a screen, and they protect users whenever they use a device. That can be particularly helpful to tech workers who find themselves in front of a screen for most of their workday.
Dhruvin entered Ocushield into a business school competition and won £10,000 in funding for his startup project. For the next 18 months, he developed Ocushield products and took preorders — which validated his idea and helped with additional expenses.
Ocushield went live in January 2015 with a handful of offerings for smartphones and tablets, and the company now has 70 product lines that cover more than 250 device models. And Ocushield continues to innovate products to protect consumers as they turn to more digital devices and screens in their daily lives.
“We continue to see organic growth, and we’ve introduced new product lines, including eyeglasses and lighting products,” Dhruvin said. “And it’s all focused around the niche of protecting people’s eyes from blue light and helping them get better sleep.”
Eliminating Blue Light that Can Disrupt Sleep Patterns
Blue light can disrupt circadian rhythm, or the body’s ability to tell night from day, which is perhaps its most significant health impact. During the day, the sun emits natural blue light that signals to the human body that it needs to stay awake and active.
But when the sun goes down, and people continue to be exposed to blue light through their mobile devices, it delays the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps the body go to sleep. That means less restful sleep and compounding effects over time.
Ocushield products help restore that balance between day and night. They can also prevent eye strain and other ocular ailments caused by device use. And that protection has become even more critical during the global Covid-19 pandemic that has given rise to so much interpersonal communication online.
“People are spending more time on screens than ever before, whether it’s working from home or communicating with friends through Zoom or video chat,” Dhruvin said. “I think many people are now on devices every waking hour of the day, so they are feeling the symptoms. They’re also looking for solutions and are much more receptive to products that negate the detrimental effects devices have.”
When Ocushield products block blue light from reaching the eyes, that allows the brain to recognize day and night naturally, and produce melatonin accordingly. In addition to sleep disruption, prolonged exposure to blue light can also lead to eye strain, damaged retina cells, and even accelerate macular degeneration — an eye disease that can lead to vision loss.
Ocushield strives to eliminate those physical issues for individuals. And the company has added features that allow a variety of professional industries to leverage its products to provide a healthier environment for their workers.
Medically Rated Protection for Tablets, Phones, and Desktops
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) accredits Ocushield screen filters as Class I Medical Devices, which means they’re safe for use in the market and do as intended. The company has enhanced its blue-light blocking technology over the years to address many other concerns — from protection to privacy.
“Our initial product was a plastic film, but as technology moved forward, we started offering tempered glass products for consumers,” Dhruvin said. “That means they could both protect their eyes and sleep from blue light, but also protect the screen.”
Many businesses were interested in using Ocushield products to eliminate some of the adverse effects of blue light on their workers. But those organizations also had other issues to contend with, including privacy and customer experience.
Some companies had installed privacy filters on monitors in the workplace so no one could see the content on a screen unless they were directly in front of it. Those filters are especially vital in the medical field, where sensitive information is often on display in a busy environment.
“Many of our potential customers said they had privacy filters on their device screens, and they couldn’t take them off to put our products on,” Dhruvin said. “So we developed a new product line that combined a privacy filter with blue-light blocking features. And those products have worked well for businesses that want to protect their information and their employees.”
Ocushield also added other features to help businesses protect customers, including anti-glare and antibacterial coatings on its products. Those are especially helpful for shared screens like displays or tablets used to complete point-of-sale transactions.
Whether it is a business looking to protect its workforce or a consumer looking to get a good night’s sleep, Ocushield wants to protect people’s eyes from some of the harmful aspects of digital technology.
Ocushield: Innovations Aim to Protect as Many Eyes as Possible
Ocushield is on a mission to increase awareness of how blocking blue light can help mitigate the long-term effects of blue light. And as people spend more time in front of digital screens, whether for work or to stay connected with friends and family, the company plans to expand into more consumer markets.
“We found that consumers purchase about 85% of smartphone screen protectors at the point of purchase of a new handset. That means we need to be where the new handsets are being sold, including telecommunications stores,” Dhruvin said. I’m really excited for the next six to 12 months as we begin forming those retail partnerships in addition to our B2B partnerships.”
Reaching more people is all part of Ocushield’s goal of protecting as many eyes as possible, according to Dhruvin. And the company goes beyond just protecting eyes with its products. It donates £1 from every sale to eye-related causes, including Fight For Sight, a U.K.-based research organization that identifies technologies that can help people living with vision problems.
The company also has an upcoming donation partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Ocushield also continues its tradition of innovation that resulted in its development of eyeglasses and desk lamps. Its next product will focus on eye health and include supplements that promote natural blue light filtering and drops that refresh eyes.
“When you look at a screen, your blink rate is reduced from maybe 15 times a minute to two or three times a minute. Blinks lubricate your eyeballs, so you can replace that with eye drops to keep them from stinging,” Dhruvin said. “Eye drops and natural supplements are two things that we’re excited about introducing.”