Do blue light glasses really work?
As the name suggests, blue light glasses block some of the high-energy blue light emitted from electronic devices like smartphones, computers and TVs. You know, the ones we stare at all day.
Even your average indoor light bulb can give off blue light. The largest producer of blue light, the sun, sends out massive amounts of blue light.
Could you benefit from blue light blocking glasses? Let’s find out.
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What are blue light blocking glasses?
When something produces light, different colors vibrate at different wavelengths. The blue-violet light is called high energy visible (HEV) light. That’s the part that most closely resembles the sun’s potentially damaging blue light.
Naturally, artificial blue light is much weaker than the sun’s blue light. But the average American now spends so much of their time indoors in front of digital screens that the lower rate of exposure starts to add up.
It is unknown whether electronic blue light can directly cause eye problems, but it may contribute.
“The average time on devices and in front of screens for adults is pushing 11 hours per day, and as such, our eyes are under a lot of digital light strain,” said Dr. Sheri Rowen, an ophthalmologist and member of the Eyesafe Vision Health Advisory Board.
“The lenses are designed to help reduce the occurrence of digital eye strain and avoid circadian rhythm cycle disruption, affecting sleep and overall well-being,” Rowen said.
Blue light glasses block a percentage of this light with a special coating that reflects some of the blue light away from your eyes. How high that percentage is depends on which glasses you buy.
Some blue light glasses have a yellow tint, while others look clear. Typically, lenses that look more yellowed tend to filter more blue light than their clearer counterparts.
“The best first step is to consult with an eye care professional who will help ascertain your needs for protection,” Rowen said.
The possible benefits of blue light glasses
Our experience with modern technology is relatively young, especially the habit of spending 11 hours a day with our eyes fixed on screens.
There’s a lot we still don’t know about how this kind of use affects our eye health.
Blue light blocking glasses are often associated with two potential benefits: reduced eye strain and better sleep.
“Whenever we use our digital devices, especially late into the night, we’re actually telling our brains to keep our bodies awake,” said Caroline Dubreuil, the product marketing manager at EyeBuyDirect.
“Research shows that wearing blue light filtering glasses three to four hours before bedtime can lead to better and more restful sleep,” Dubreuil added.
SEE RELATED: How computer glasses are different
Do you need blue light glasses?
It might help to think of blue light glasses as a trial-and-error kind of thing.
If you experience eye strain or have problems falling asleep (especially after excessive screen time), blue light glasses can be worth looking into.
They may alleviate some of your eye strain or help you get to sleep a little more easily, or they may not. Some people swear by them, while others don’t see much of a benefit.
Online retailers like EyeBuyDirect and Zenni Optical sell prescription and nonprescription blue light filter glasses for significantly less than most eyeglass stores, so the risk to your wallet will be minimal if they don’t work out.
Practicing good screen hygiene
The 20-20-20 rule is easy to remember and employ: For every 20 minutes you’re using a digital screen, look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Lifestyle adjustments like regular practice of the 20-20-20 rule, taking extended screen breaks and using your phone’s dark mode can supplement any benefits you experience with anti-blue light glasses.
Visit our guide to digital eye strain to learn more about its effects and how to avoid them.
Page updated September 2020