Are Blue Light Glasses Necessary?

By: Courtney Lewis

May 24, 2022

Woman in glasses rubbing her eyes

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are working from home than ever before, leading to a rise in digital screen time. Between spending eight or more hours staring at a computer screen, and some downtime hours spent looking at a smartphone or watching TV, it’s almost inevitable to feel some adverse effects at the end of a day.

Blue Light Effects vs. Digital Eye Strain

Blue light is all around us, and the most natural source comes primarily from sunlight. Other forms of blue light are artificial and emitted by digital screens including LED TVs, smartphones, tablets and computers. Surprisingly enough, research shows blue light can actually have health benefits such as promoting alertness, boosting memory and cognitive function, elevating mood and regulating circadian rhythm. However, studies indicate that an excess in blue light exposure can lead to depletion of melatonin production, a hormone that regulates our sleep cycles.

In today’s eyewear industry, blue light glasses are one of the more popular items purchased by consumers. Companies who sell the glasses claim they help with reducing or eliminating digital eye strain, while also increasing natural melatonin secretion to get a good night’s sleep. Other than their slight yellow tint to filter out blue light, they mostly look like regular glasses and come in many different stylish frames. You can find blue light glasses through various eyewear retailers.

Most adults have experienced digital eye strain. Common symptoms of digital eye strain include headaches, blurred vision, irritated eyes, and fatigue. Many believe that digital eye strain is caused by overexposure to blue light, but medical vision experts say that is not the case. “Digital eye strain is related to how we use our digital devices, not the blue light coming out of them,” says Mitchell Strominger, MD, a neuro and pediatric ophthalmologist with Renown Health.

Do Blue Light Glasses Even Work?

Since blue light glasses aren’t medically proven to help with digital eye strain, you’re probably wondering if they’re even worth using. “If you’re one to binge a TV show or scroll though social media before bedtime, the blue light from those digital screens can disrupt your circadian rhythm and cause you to lose sleep, which can ultimately lead to other adverse health effects,” says Dr. Strominger. “While more research is still needed, some studies have shown that blue light glasses may prevent melatonin suppression and increase quality of sleep. There is no harm in trying them out and seeing if they work for you.”

As for preventing digital eye strain, Dr. Strominger shared several helpful tips:

  1. Try using the 20-20-20 rule, which entails looking away from your screen and looking at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Sit at an arm’s length (about 25 inches) away from your screen.
  3. Adjust the brightness and contrast of your screen, especially before bedtime. There is a night mode setting on most smart phones you can use.
  4. Reduce your screen time whenever you can and give your eyes a break.
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