Should You Invest in Blue Light Glasses to Prevent Digital Eye Strain?

Chances are, you’ve been hearing a lot about blue light—and with good reason. So many of us are on our smartphones, laptops, tablets, and desktop computers for hours at a time, and the screens from all these devices emit lots of blue light.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2019, many employees suddenly started finding themselves working from home on their computers. And sales of blue light glasses from online and brick-and-mortar stores quickly went through the roof. Many users bought into the claims that wearing these glasses was a good way to counter the effects of all that screen time, and took the plunge.

Simply put, blue light glasses have a special coating that filters out blue light, but lets other types of light pass through. And they continue to explode in popularity. Sales are predicted to reach $28 million dollars by the year 2024, up from $19 million dollars in 2020.1

But is blue light all that harmful in the first place? It makes sense that staring at so many screens for hours isn’t necessarily a healthy habit, especially for your eyes. But can less blue light make a difference? Let’s take a deeper dive into this colorful debate.

What exactly is blue light?

Blue light mostly comes from the sun. Emitted in wavelengths, it has the highest energy of any wavelength in the spectrum of colors that are visible to the eye. By contrast, red has the lowest amount of energy.

Once upon a time, we got the majority of our blue light simply from being outdoors. But with the invention of television, and the rise of computers and other digital devices, we’re getting more and more blue light exposure indoors.

Is blue light bad for your eyes?

Since blue light glasses are such a new product, it depends on who you ask.

If you ask the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the answer is no. “There is no scientific evidence that the light coming from computer screens is damaging to the eyes. Because of this, the Academy does not recommend any special eye wear for computer use.2

Specifically around the issue of blue light, the AAO says “...there is no scientific evidence that blue light from digital devices causes damage to your eye”.3

During the day, exposure to blue light can be beneficial, as it improves attention, reaction times, and mood. But at night, it’s a different story. There’s evidence that blue light exposure can actually suppress levels of melatonin—a hormone that helps you fall asleep. 4

The AAO notes that blue light affects the body’s circadian rhythm—your internal clock that tells you when it’s time to go to sleep. Their recommendation: stay away from your screens two to three hours before bedtime.

To the AAO, the real culprit in this whole debate is digital eye strain, not blue light. Here’s what an article on their website says:

“Long hours staring at digital screens leads to decreased blinking. Blinking less sometimes causes a series of temporary eye symptoms known as eye strain. But these effects are caused by how people use their screens, not by anything coming from the screens. The best way to avoid eye strain is to take breaks from the screen frequently.”5

However, manufacturers of blue light glasses disagree with the AAO on the effects of blue light. They claim that glasses that screen out blue light help reduce eye strain, lower the risk of eye diseases and retina damage, and lead to fewer headaches.

Some of these claims have been made by satisfied users, who reported that the blue light glasses made a difference. But other claims, usually made by retailers, have resulted in hefty court fines for the party claiming these benefits.6

What do we think about blue light?

If you absolutely need to be on your device before bedtime, blue light glasses might help improve your sleep quality. If you want to give them a try, always ask your health care provider if they’re right for you.

We at Rohto® agree with the AAO that digital eye strain caused by excessive device use is a bigger problem than too much blue light. The symptoms of digital eye strain may include:

> Eye discomfort
> Pain in the shoulders, back, or neck
> Headaches
> Blurry or double vision
> Dry eyes
> Red eyes
> Itchy eyes
> Tearing up

The intensity of these symptoms can increase the longer you’re in front of a screen, and can lessen when you give yourself a break.

To help prevent digital eye strain:

> Take frequent breaks, and refocus on something else
> Stay approximately 25 inches away from screens
> Try to increase the amount you blink
> Use lubricating eye drops, such as Rohto® Digi Eye®

1 https://www.360researchreports.com/global-blue-light-blocking-glasses-market-14357890

2 https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/are-computer-glasses-worth-it

3 https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/should-you-be-worried-about-blue-light

4 https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

5 https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/are-computer-glasses-worth-it

6 https://www.aop.org.uk/ot/industry/high-street/2017/05/26/boots-opticians-fined-40000-over-misleading-blue-light-advertising