Blue light glasses have been increasingly popular over the last few years. Now readily available by major retailers they’re easy to come by whether you have prescription lenses or perfect 20/20 vision. Advertised to reduce eye strain and damage from blue light emitted by cellphones and computer screens, these lenses are created to give you long-term relief. But do they really work?
What is blue light and how does it affect you?
Blue light emitted from screens can affect your sleep and potentially cause disease if exposed over long periods of time, especially at night. During the day these wavelengths can be beneficial, boosting attention, reaction times, and mood – but at night they can seriously disrupt your natural circadian rhythm (your internal clock that tells you when it’s time to sleep or wake up). Unfortunately, most of us have no choice but to use computers and phones 8+ hours a day. So how can we better prevent the negative effects of blue light? That’s where blue light glasses come in.
What are blue light glasses?
Blue light blocking glasses have specially crafted lenses that are said to block or filter out the blue light, some have a slight yellow/orange hue to the lenses but newer manufacturers create them with clear lenses. These glasses claim to protect your eyes from glare and can help reduce potential damage to your retina from the prolonged exposure to blue light on screens and devices.
But are blue light glasses worth the hype?
It may surprise you, but many eye issues that are caused by digital screens aren’t actually due to blue light. Many issues actually fall under computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain. These can cause a wide range of eye strain and discomfort as your eyes are shifting focus and moving around your screen frequently. The glare of the monitors adds to this discomfort and irritation but it isn’t necessarily the blue light as the root cause. Sometimes, it could even be that we are not blinking enough causing dryness and irritation. So despite popular belief, it seems these glasses aren’t as protective as we are led to believe.
This news surprised me. I’ve worn blue light glasses for a couple of years now, and I’ve felt these glasses have helped to reduce my headaches and dryness. So I decided to do more digging.
Are they worth the hype? Depends on who you ask.
After more research, it seems there really isn’t a consensus on if these glasses really help. Doctors do not have enough evidence to support claims made by manufacturers – and the FDA does not regulate eyewear. Most believe more high-quality studies need to be done to really determine if blue light glasses have significant health benefits to consumers.
On the contrary, there are doctors who believe there could be some truth to claims after hearing from patients that have given positive reviews and experiences. From what I’ve gathered, it won’t hurt to use them if you feel that they help you – but they might not solve all your eye strain concerns.
Previously I used Flux, a downloadable program that slowly changes the light filter on your screen as the day goes on. The filter grows orange as the day gets closer to evening and night hours. This supports the research that blue light at night is harmful since the screen tries to combat that at night. But during the day it casts a very subtle cream-colored filter over my monitor that was hardly noticeable. Using this filter I could tell that my eyes were less strained at night but the color changes to my screen in the evening made it frustrating to watch videos and read online. So I switched to blue light glasses instead knowing that the filter did help.
So I bought a couple of pairs. I’d wear my contacts during the day and wear the blue light glasses with a small +0.25 magnification. Through wearing these I really did notice an improvement in eye dryness and headaches compared to days I did not wear them. What it could be, as some have suggested, is the reduced glare and additional filter between me and the bright light of my monitor, rather than the blue light. But regardless, I personally notice a difference. But I wanted to know what our team thought too.
So I asked our team of techs, who spend the majority of their day staring at screens, and most did feel they were beneficial. Our VoIP engineer’s sons swear by them for gaming and our tech manager thought they were really helpful when reading heavily on white backgrounds compared to his standard glasses. Another technician felt they couldn’t tell the difference after a couple of hours of wear, but felt they helped if he wore them for 5+ hours.
So it seems that while the science may not back the claims that have been made, there just might be some benefits to using blue light glasses. So give them a try for yourself, we’d love to hear how it goes!
Let us know if you’ve had success with blue light glasses or think they’re nothing but hype!