Here’s what science says about blue light blocking glasses regarding eye and overall health:
- Blue light glasses are effective at reducing melatonin suppression
- Blue light glasses may have the potential to help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm
- Digital eye strain is most likely NOT caused by blue light
- Blue light glasses have little to no effect on digital eye strain symptoms
- To reduce digital eye strain symptoms, see an ophthalmologist or optometrist and focus on how you interact with your devices rather than wearing blue light glasses
- More research is needed to understand the effects of blue light fully and whether blue light glasses have any medical value
What are Blue Light Glasses?
Blue light blocking glasses have lenses that are specially designed to filter blue light from digital screens. Sales of these glasses have skyrocketed in the last few years.
Companies that make blue light glasses (computer glasses), such as Zenni and Warby Parker, claim these lenses can improve your health.
Their two central claims are:
- Reducing blue light exposure can help protect your eyes from digital eye strain (aka computer vision syndrome)
- Blocking blue light will increase your quality of sleep by helping regulate your circadian rhythm
What Does Science Say About These Claims?
There’s no scientific evidence that light from your computer screen damages your eyes. That’s why the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) doesn’t recommend wearing special glasses for computer use.1
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Here’s what science says about specific claims:
Digital Eye Strain
According to the AAO and multiple studies, blue light from digital screens has little to no effect on digital eye strain symptoms.1-4
One study found no difference between the effects of clear lenses and blue light glasses on eye strain symptoms during two hours of computer work.4
It is unlikely that blue light blocking lenses can help reduce symptoms of digital eye strain. More research is needed to draw conclusions.
Multiple studies have linked exposure to blue light with decreased melatonin levels and poor sleep quality.5, 6
More studies have shown that blue light blocking glasses may provide a viable method for preventing melatonin suppression and increasing sleep quality.7, 8
Blue light blocking lenses may have the potential to help improve your body’s circadian rhythm. Again, more research is needed to prove these theories.
What is Blue Light?
Blue light comes from digital screens, the sun, fluorescent lighting, and LED lighting. It contains the most energy of all visible light.
Invisible light, also known as ultraviolet or UV, has even higher energy levels and is proven to cause eye diseases.9, 10, 11 However, no harmful UVA or UVB light is emitted from computers, tablets, lamps, or TV monitors.12
Blue Light & Circadian Rhythms
Blue light plays an important role in your circadian rhythm. Exposure to sunlight throughout the day helps synchronize your body’s internal clock.13
The sun used to be our only source of blue light. Now, most homes, offices, and stores are filled with it. Additionally, many people look at their computers and mobile devices at night.
This increase in blue light exposure can decrease melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland. It helps control your sleep-wake cycle.
Research suggests that wearing blue light blocking glasses before bed can effectively treat melatonin suppression.8
How Do Circadian Rhythms Affect Health?
Circadian rhythms involve several important body processes, including:
- Sleep cycle
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Body temperature
Symptoms of circadian rhythm disorders include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating and decreased alertness
- Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both
- Impaired judgment while driving
- Poor emotional control
- Body aches and pains
- Stomach problems
Without treatment, circadian rhythm disorders can increase your risk of several health issues, including cardiovascular disease.
Blue Light & Digital Eye Strain
Computer vision syndrome (CVS), or digital eye strain (DES), is a group of eye health and vision problems. They result from prolonged computer, cell phone, tablet, or e-reader use.
Common symptoms include:
- Eyestrain (red, dry, or irritated eyes)
- Eye fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Dry eye
- Neck and shoulder pain
There are numerous causes of these symptoms, including
- Improper lighting
- Incorrect viewing distances or angles
- Bad posture
- Screen glare
- Uncorrected refractive errors or other eye conditions
Does Blue Light Cause Digital Eye Strain?
Notice that blue light is not listed as a cause of digital eye strain.
Only a few studies have attempted to measure the effect of blue-blocking filters on digital eye strain. However, the studies that have come out and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) suggest no evidence that computer screen light damages your eyes.
In addition, blue light filters do not relieve digital eye strain.
According to the AAO:
“It’s unnecessary to spend money on special eyewear for computer use. Here’s why:
- Blue light from computers will not lead to eye disease. Overexposure to blue light and UV light rays from the sun can raise the risk of eye disease, but the small amount of blue light from computer screens has never been shown to cause any harm to our eyes.
- Sleep can be improved without special eyeglasses. You don’t need to spend extra money on blue light glasses to improve sleep—decrease evening screen time and set devices to night mode.
- Digital eye strain is not caused by blue light. The symptoms of digital eye strain are linked to how we use our digital devices, not the blue light coming out of them.”
— American Academy of Ophthalmology
Blue light blocking glasses are not recommended if you’re looking to help improve your digital eye strain symptoms.
How to Reduce Digital Eye Strain
Digital eye strain is not caused by blue light. It is caused by the ways we use our digital devices. Here are some methods you can use to combat digital eye strain:
Maintain proper distance
Your computer screen should be an arm’s length away — approximately 25 inches, or at the point where your palm rests flat against the screen. The monitor should be positioned slightly downward (about 15 to 20 degrees from your eye level to the center of the screen).
Maintain good posture with your feet flat on the floor and back straight. Your chair should have a backrest. Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms flat with your wrists on the keyboard.
Place reference materials properly
Using reference materials, such as textbooks, a notebook, or a second monitor, should be the same height as your monitor.
One of the biggest causes of digital eye strain is not blinking. When focusing on digital screens, our blink rate can reduce by up to 50 percent. Try to blink as often as possible to reduce dry eye and other symptoms.
You can adjust your screen settings, buy anti-glare coatings, or ensure your computer screen is high-quality. This will reduce the amount of light reflected from your screen.
Reduce competing lighting
Using drapes or blinds on windows and low-wattage bulbs in your work area can help reduce glare and contrast. Avoid using screens in situations of extreme brightness or darkness.
Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You should also rest your eyes for 15 minutes after every 2 hours of computer use. This helps prevent eye fatigue.
Increase text size
Reading small letters can strain your eyes and cause headaches. Increasing your font size can help combat this.
Clean your screen
Removing dust and smudges can help reduce glare.
We suggest speaking with your local ophthalmologist if you are experiencing any digital eye strain symptoms.
They can check your eyes for undiagnosed vision problems, recommend best practices, and suggest any products that may help improve your condition.If you’re interested in purchasing a pair of blue light glasses, read our review of the Best Blue Light Blocking Glasses
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