Do blue light glasses work?
What do blue light glasses do?
Blue light glasses block some of the high-energy blue light emitted from electronic devices like smartphones, computers and TVs. Even your average indoor light bulb can give off blue light.
Blue light glasses go by a few different names. You might hear them called blue light blocking glasses or blue light filter glasses. Sometimes, they're just called blue blockers.
Could you benefit from blue light blocking glasses? Let's find out.
How blue light blocking glasses work
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 isn't currently known whether electronic blue light can directly lead to 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.
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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, 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 really need blue light filter glasses?
It might help to approach blue light glasses from a trial-and-error point of view.
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.
READ NEXT: Best places to buy blue light glasses
Practicing good screen hygiene
The 20-20-20 rule is easy to remember and practice: 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 blue light blocking glasses.
READ NEXT: Guide to digital eye strain
Page published in September 2019
Page updated in July 2021