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How computer glasses work to reduce eye strain

man with computer eye strain looking at laptop screen

You’re hunched over your keyboard, staring — and possibly squinting — at your computer screen. You’ve heard of computer glasses. Would they help you to see the screen more clearly, relieve digital eye strain and filter harmful blue light?

Yes, computer glasses may help to relieve digital eye strain and they can block or filter blue light from your screen too. 

What you may not realize is how the glare of blue light is affecting your sight. Exposure to digital screens can cause symptoms like headaches, dry eyes or blurred vision when moderation isn’t practiced. 

Wearing computer glasses and being mindful of your screen time can reduce symptoms associated with digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome. 

What is digital eye strain?

Digital eye strain symptoms include blurred vision, double vision, eye fatigue, dry eyes, irritated eyes, red eyes, eye twitching and headaches. 

Digital eye strain can even cause neck and shoulder pain. 

How big is the problem?

According to The Vision Council, about 80% of adults report using digital devices for more than two hours per day, and 59% report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain.

What is the breakdown of digital eye strain symptoms (according to the Vision Council)? 

35% report experiencing neck and shoulder pain

32.4% report experiencing eye strain

27.9% report experiencing blurred vision

27.7% report experiencing headaches

27.2% report experiencing dry eyes

What is blue light? 

Our lives are increasingly digital — how did we get by without our smartphones? — but prolonged usage of digital devices increases our exposure to potentially harmful blue light, which can lead to digital eye strain and even trouble sleeping. 

Blue light itself can be good or bad for you, much like exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. How can you protect yourself from the harmful effects of blue light?

Don’t use your devices before bedtime. Research shows blue light exposure can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Take breaks from your devices. Follow the 20-20-20 rule to reduce your risk of digital eye strain symptoms. The rule? Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look 20 feet away. 

Get blue-light filtering lenses. Computer glasses specifically designed to ease digital eye strain and block harmful blue light can help. 

How computer glasses work

Computer glasses have lens treatments that “block or filter out blue light,” says optometrist Suzanne Kim of the MEDARVA Low Vision Center in Richmond, Virginia. 

“The lenses reduce the amount of blue light entering the eye,” making work on digital screens safer and more comfortable to the eyes, she adds.

What to look for in computer glasses

For maximum viewing comfort, the lenses of your computer glasses should include anti-reflective (AR) coating. Sometimes called anti-glare treatment, AR coating eliminates the reflections of light from the front and back surfaces of your lenses that can cause eye strain.

And, of course, blue light filtering is an added benefit.

Do you need a prescription for computer glasses? 

“If you do not normally wear glasses and have no prescription, you can purchase ‘computer’ glasses without an optometrist's prescription,” Kim says. 

“If you have a glasses prescription (if you’re near sighted, far sighted or have astigmatism), then you will need a prescription to have the blue light filter added on to your next pair of glasses,” she says.

Do you need computer glasses?

While the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) does not recommend any special eyewear for computer use, Kim says her patients who use computer glasses reported a noticeable reduction in digital eye strain, giving her reason to believe blue-light-blocking lenses help.

Especially before bedtime, computer glasses that filter blue light can make a difference. “I would say computer glasses are similar to the night mode feature on the iPhone,” Kim says.

The AAO says digital eye strain symptoms caused by computer use are only temporary and will ease after you stop using (or take a break from) your devices.

Some final tips on how to reduce digital eye strain? Sit up straight at your computer, increase the font size on your screen, and improve the ergonomics of your workstation to reduce your digital eye strain and the pain in your back and neck.

SHOPPING FOR COMPUTER GLASSES? Find an optician near you or online and search for computer glasses and blue-light filtering lenses. 

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