With human behaviour significantly evolving, especially the amount of time spent in front of screens, Essilor is taking the next step by expanding its range with a variety of products for markets across the world, at different pricing levels. Essilor and its partners are now looking for affordable solutions for all wearers, in order to provide visual health solutions protecting from harmful blue light for all.
What is blue light?
Mainly emitted by the sun, but also by artificial light sources, blue light can be divided into three sub-sections: blue-violet (415–455nm), intermediate blue (ca. 460nm) and blue-turquoise (460–510nm). Whereas the latter is essential for human health, blue-violet light is potentially harmful.
The blue-violet light is especially dangerous because it penetrates deeply into the eye, hitting the retina and its central area, the macula. This is an essential zone for sight, processing 90% of the visual information received by the eye. Even if blue-violet light is not the main cause, some eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa, can be worsened by regular exposure to this part of the visible light spectrum. Over time, and with insufficient antioxidant defenses, this exposure can lead to cell death in the retinal pigment epithelium and the photoreceptors.
Two technologies, one goal: cutting out harmful blue light
Research undertaken by the Group over the last few years into blue light, in collaboration in particular with the Paris Vision Institute, has contributed to growing evidence about the mechanisms which engender retinal photodamage, caused by blue light. At the end of 2011, Essilor R&D teams identified the 415-455 nanometer spectral range – i.e. the blue-violet range – to be the most harmful to the outer retina. These results were published in 2013 (Arnault, Barrau et al., PlosOne, 2013).
Two years later, the first generation of anti-blue-violet light filters was born. This is an interference filtering technology, meaning thin film layers are laid over the lens. The blue-violet light that hits the lens is reflected in part by the lens surface, preventing part of the harmful light from reaching the human eye.
Between 2013 and 2016, the Essilor Group continued its research, in partnership with the Paris Vision Institute. This close collaboration enabled the Group to better understand the role of blue light in retinal aging: blue-violet light promotes oxidative stress and hinders anti-oxidant defenses. (Marie et al., Cell Death and Disease, 2018).
In parallel, Essilor designed a new filter technology and developed an ‘absorptive’ filtering. The idea was to provide more transparent protection. Instead of being reflected, the blue-violet light is absorbed by the lens, so there’s no blue reflection anymore. We have also managed to correct the slight residual yellow tint.
Solutions tailored to every user’s needs
In 2013, Essilor launched Crizal® Prevencia®, first harmful blue light-blocking technology. In 2016, the Eye Protect System™(EPS) lens integrated filtering technology was created. The technology is embedded into the material, resulting in an aesthetically pleasing lens with no blue-violet reflection and no yellow tint.
With a view to democratize protection against blue light, Essilor launched Blue UV Capture™ in 2018. This ‘in-the-mass’ absorption solution, without blue-violet reflection filters out 100% of UV rays1 from a front angle and provides up to three times more protection against blue-violet light2 than a conventional prescription lens. These technologies can be combined with Crizal® Prevencia® to increase the level of protection against blue light.
As the prevention of damage caused by blue light becomes increasingly pressing, Essilor is looking to find solutions for the greatest number of people around the world. The global launch of Blue UV Capture™ this year will be a significant indicator of the success of the solution and, more broadly, of all the work accomplished by the various teams at Essilor over last few years.
Partners on board to boost research and performance
In order to optimize solutions for filtering out harmful blue light, Essilor Group subsidiaries have been working in close collaboration. The Group’s partners got on board this anti-harmful blue light project, alongside Essilor’s own R&D teams. Essilor forged strong relationships in R&D with its partners – with Chemi and Shamir in particular. Together, by combining each of our skill-sets, the Group has developed joint, innovative solutions.
Essilor strives to become the leader in this market space: protection against harmful blue light. This is a significant technological and commercial challenge. The Group is already on target to reaching that goal thanks to its strategy of developing innovative, appropriate solutions for all.
1 By absorption in all materials except Orma (95%) with Eye Protect System™ lens. Additional UV back side reflection reduction when combined with Crizal® coating.
2 For Eye Protect System™ lenses with Crizal Forte® UV coating 25% (+/-5%) decrease in light-induced retinal cell death versus no lens. Based upon in vitro photoprotection tests on retinal cells. Blue UV Capture™ lenses blocks at least 20% of harmful blue violet light (up to 455nm, with the greatest toxicity between 415-455 nm). For Polycarbonate concave lenses, the harmful blue light blocking percentage might be slightly lower.
An original Eyezen™ lenses campaign from Essilor is showing connected consumers how to live their digital life to the fullest while relaxing their eyes.
Two Essilor Group innovations were honored at Silmo international optics tradeshow: Essilor Instruments’ Vision-R™800, in the Material/Equipment category and BBGR’s BLUV® XPERT, in the Vision category. Congratulations to both teams.