Can Blue Light Glasses Prevent Eye Damage?

Can Blue Light Glasses Prevent Eye Damage?

silver framed eyeglasses on white table

The lockdown has caused us to spend more time staring at laptops and other digital screens. Some people are worried about prolonged exposure of blue light emitted from screens, creating the demand for blue light glasses. Blue light glasses have been popular amongst office workers and gamers, and are advertised to block short wave blue light, reduce eye strain, improve sleep, and prevent eye disease. Optical company Zenni reports that sales for the blue-light-blocking product Blokz have risen 60% annually for the last 2 years, with nearly 2 million pairs sold in 2020 alone. Market research company 360ResearchReports, projected that the global market for blue light eyewear will increase from 19 million in 2020 to $28 million by 2024.

What is blue light?

red clouds in the sky

Blue light is a visible light on the light spectrum with a relatively short wavelength of about 415-455 nanometers. Because of this, blue light contains more energy than many light types. Blue light is not a new phenomena. In fact, most of the blue light is from the sun. However, gadgets like televisions, smartphones, laptops and tablets are found to emit brighter, shorter wavelength light.

What are Blue Light Glasses?

man wearing black frame eyeglasses

Blue light blocking glasses have special lens to block or filter out a portion of short wave blue light. The lenses are advertised to protect eyes from blue light emitted by digital screens as prolonged exposure may lead to potential damage to your retina.

Do they actually work?

gold framed eyeglasses on white paper

In short, there is inconclusive evidence that blue light glasses reduce eye strain and protect your eyes from effects of blue light. This is partially due to the lack of research on this subject as blue light glasses is a relatively new product.

Can blue light from screens cause me eye damage?

closeup photo of person

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has said that blue light glasses is unnecessary for computer users and that blue light from digital devices does not lead to eye disease or cause eye strain. Some experts from Trusted Source suggests that prolonged exposure of low levels of blue light emitted from devices are not hazardous and that the demand for blue light glasses is born out of fearmongering from companies. A 2017 systematic review reported that some advertisers of blue light glasses received fines for marketing the glasses with misleading claims.

However, experts acknowledge that damage may occur with high doses of blue light or long durations of less intense exposure. Blue light can come in the form of tablets, computers, smart phones, and day light. According to an article by Medical News Today, the increased use of light emitting diodes, LED, organic LED and active-matrix LED, means people now have chronic exposure to blue light. The lack of research means that experts cannot rule out the link between chronic exposure of blue light from LED and eye damage.

As of now, further research is needed to determine if devices can emit enough blue light to harm the eyes. Long term studies are necessary to investigate harmful effects of prolonged exposure of blue light.

Can blue light glasses help me sleep better?

man lying on bed beside short-coated black dog

There are other arguments for blue light glasses such as blue light glasses can help one sleep better. This was found to be true. A study conducted by the University of Houston found that participants wearing blue light glasses show a 58% increase in night time melatonin levels. However, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says that it is unnecessary to spend extra money on blue light glasses just for this purpose. Instead, the organization suggests alternatives to getting such a good night sleep such as decreasing screen time usage in the evenings.

Are Blue Light Glasses worth the hype?

woman using smartphone beside curtains

This may surprise you, but many eye issues caused by digital screen have nothing to do with blue light. Eye discomfort felt after long screen time falls under computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain. Eye discomfort is a result of eyes constantly shifting focus and moving on a screen. The lack of blinking can cause the cornea to be dry and irritated, hence bring about feelings of discomfort. Furthermore, the glare and contrast of light against the screen can cause headaches. A 2017 review of three clinical trials found “poor” evidence to support the use of blue-light-blocking glasses to preserve eye health and prevent dry eye. Blue light glasses users who claim that their glasses relieves headache and eye discomfort have a high possibility of being victims of a placebo effect as scientific evidence have yet to support direct claims that blue light glasses can cure eye discomfort.

What can I do to protect my eyes?

black and silver pen beside white book and black pen

There is inconclusive proof that blue light glasses are useful. Instead, optometrists provide helpful tips and tricks to protect your eyes and reduce eye discomfort.

  • Screen users are encouraged to practice the 20-20-20 rule to relax the eyes. Every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. 
  • Use eye drops to keep eyes lubricated while you work on the computer.
  • Make sure you’re not too close to your screen as as sitting too close can strain your eyes.
  • Take eye breaks from the screen. Go for a walk! Start a hobby that doesn’t involve staring at a screen!
  • Dim the lights in your home or workspace. Healthline urges screen users to consider using red light as opposed to an LED bulbs as red light is less likely to disrupt your circadian rhythm.

Conclusion:

There is inconclusive proof that prolonged exposure of blue light can cause damage to the retina. In fact, there is no direct link that prolonged exposure of blue light harms the eyes. The discomfort and irritation that we feel is not because of blue light, but due to the overuse of electronic gadgets. Hence, it is imperative that we try to minimize screen time.


References:

 “Blue light glasses: Do they work? – Medical News Today.” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/do-blue-light-glasses-work. Accessed 30 Apr. 2021.

 “The effect of blue-light blocking spectacle lenses on visual … – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29044670/. Accessed 30 Apr. 2021.

 “Do Blue Light Glasses Work? Effectiveness & Tips for Reducing ….” https://www.healthline.com/health/do-blue-light-glasses-work. Accessed 30 Apr. 2021.

 “Global Blue Light Blocking Glasses Market – Industry Reports.” https://www.360researchreports.com/global-blue-light-blocking-glasses-market-14357890. Accessed 30 Apr. 2021.

 “Attenuation of short wavelengths alters sleep and the ip RGC pupil ….” https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/opo.12385. Accessed 30 Apr. 2021.

 “Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Actually Work? – Health Essentials ….” 18 Mar. 2020, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-blue-light-blocking-glasses-actually-work/. Accessed 30 Apr. 2021.

 “News Pandemic Screen Time: Will Blue Light Glasses Help? – WebMD.” 15 Jan. 2021, https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20210115/do-blue-light-glasses-work. Accessed 30 Apr. 2021.


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