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Do Blue Light Glasses Work? Are They Worth It?

Last Updated on

close up woman wearing blue light glasses

Most of us likely spend too much time looking at a screen: Tablets, laptops, and our phones all take up a considerable amount of our eye time. Many people experience eye strain, sore necks, and even headaches after spending most of the day staring at screens.

If you’ve heard of blue light glasses, you likely know that they reportedly help filter out the blue light that causes us to feel so drained at the end of the day. But do they actually work?

For the most part, there is no solid evidence that wearing blue light glasses actually works.

Here, we look at the research into blue light and whether there is any benefit to wearing blue light glasses. We also discuss ways to reduce the symptoms of staring at digital screens for long periods.

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What Is Blue Light?

What exactly is blue light¹ and why does it affect our eyes? We are surrounded by electromagnetic energy, which moves in waves. Visible light, which can be seen by the naked eye, includes blue light, which consists of short waves of high energy. 

Everything from incandescent light bulbs to the sun emits blue light, and our technology exposes us to a large amount of blue light. We use LED technology to power cell phones, TVs, and computers, which all emit high levels of blue light.

 
woman wearing blue light glasses while working

Image Credit: Prostock studio, Shutterstock

How Does Blue Light Affect Our Eyes?

There hasn’t been any evidence that blue light has a negative effect on our eyes. However, a study¹ published in Molecular Vision concluded that more research needs to be conducted to discover what the long-term effects of blue light will have on human eyes. But for now, the studies are inconclusive.

The American Optometric Association¹ has found that while some studies have found that blue light can affect our quality of sleep, there is no proof that blue light damages our eyes. In fact, the sun emits much more blue light than any of our devices.

Until more studies are done, the damage is considered non-existent for now.

How Do Blue Glasses Work?

Blue light glasses are designed to block or at least filter blue light. Since yellow is the opposite color of blue, many blue light glasses tend to have yellow lenses.

But now that you know that the blue light from our devices isn’t necessarily causing any harm to our eyes, blue light glasses aren’t really necessary.

It doesn’t do any harm if you wear these kinds of glasses, but they aren’t going to help with the real culprit: good old-fashioned eye strain.

Blue Light Eye Glasses

Image Credit: Stereo Lights, Shutterstock

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome (CVS)¹ is a fancy way of saying digital eye strain. While we might not know precisely how blue light affects our eye health, if at all, we can definitely suffer from digital eye strain. 

Headaches and dry, sore eyes can result just from us straining our eyes while looking at a digital screen.

Vision issues and eye discomfort are attributed to the large amount of time that most people spend in front of screens.

Symptoms of CVS include:
  • Dry and tired eyes
  • Burning and sore eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Shoulder and neck pain
  • Difficulty keeping your eyes open

Beyond staring at a screen for hours, other factors can contribute to CVS:

  • Poor posture (slouching)
  • Bad lighting
  • Sitting too close to the screen
  • Lack of suitable vision wear (not wearing glasses)
  • Glare from the screen
woman experiencing CVS

Image Credit: fizkes, Shutterstock

How Do You Prevent Eye Strain?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology¹ recommends trying the following tips to avoid eyestrain:

  • Keep your screens at least 25 inches away or an arm’s length from your eyes.
  • Use the 20-20-20 rule. Part of giving your eyes a break includes finding an object in the room about 20 feet away and looking at it instead of your screen for 20 seconds. Do this once every 20 minutes.
  • Try to hold your screen so you’re looking at it at a slightly downward angle.
  • Try sitting with the correct posture¹ while watching TV and while at the computer¹.
  • Wear glasses that have been prescribed for you to wear while using a digital screen. If you haven’t had your eyes checked in a while, consider making an appointment with your optometrist.
  • Try adjusting the room’s lighting and the contrast levels on your screen so it has less glare.
  • Use a matte screen filter if you can.
  • Many apps and browsers provide the option of a black screen/background, which helps reduce brightness and glare. Use them.
  • Use the “night shift” option on your devices to reduce the brightness. This is effective for the evenings.
  • Treat dry eyes with eye drops and consider getting a humidifier.

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Conclusion

There’s no medical or scientific proof that blue light is responsible for causing eye strain or damage. But it is still recommended¹ to limit the use of technology to at least 1 hour before going to sleep. 

All of our technology does emit blue light, but it’s the eye strain due to our eyes being locked on screens for the better part of each day that we should be more worried about. Overuse of devices can cause the neck strain, headaches, poor sleep, and eye fatigue.

It’s possible that a pair of blue light glasses might help with sleep issues, but it will do nothing for your eye health because blue light doesn’t harm your eyes.

Just remember to take breaks often from your computers and phones — get outside and stretch your legs if you can. Do whatever it takes to give your eyes and your brain a much-needed break.


Featured Image Credit: Only_NewPhoto, Shutterstock

About the Author Kathryn Copeland

Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things birds. When she was a child, thanks to her love of animals she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way. She's not strong in the sciences, unfortunately, so she uses her time to research and write about all kinds of birds and animals, and hopes to bring that detailed knowledge to OpticsMag.

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