You’ve probably seen a few people you know donning a pair of blue light glasses. They’re not only stylish but also practical – or are they? The makers of blue light glasses claim that the product blocks or reduces blue light that comes from many digital screens, which then also reduces eye strain and headaches.
Blue light glasses have exploded in popularity lately, especially for those who are frequently on their devices. However, whether they are just as popular among eye doctors remains to be seen.
First, not all blue light is created equal. For example, blue-violet light is closest on the visible light spectrum to UV light (which is on the non-visible light spectrum). This short wavelength, high energy light can cause damage over extended periods of exposure. There are also some wavelengths of blue light that are not harmful.
The good (news)
From a health standpoint, there may be some benefits of blue light glasses. However, this has not been thoroughly researched. From a comfort standpoint, many people claim a “reduction” in eyestrain, but the validity of these claims depends on many factors. If nothing else, blue light glasses do serve a cosmetic purpose, and some people prefer them simply for the sake of style.
The bad (news)
Since blue light glasses are a fairly new technology, there is still much to be learned about their efficacy. True eyestrain comes from overworking the accommodative ability, or how your eyes focus, with excessive use of devices, not necessarily from the blue light they emit. Additionally, when using these devices, or when watching TV or reading, we tend to blink less, which then causes the eyes to dry out. This leads to redness and discomfort. So, before you blame blue light as the culprit for your eyestrain, consider how often you are using your electronic devices and the frequency in which you are blinking to refresh your eyes.
The helpful (news)
Are you unsure if a pair of blue light glasses should be your next purchase? Just because there’s a lack of quality evidence on blue light glasses doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you are experiencing eye strain or fatigue. There are other methods you can try. The American Optometric Association recommends taking these steps:
- Adjust your seat or your computer’s position, so your eyes are about 25 inches from the screen. Position the screen so you’re gazing slightly downward.
- Try computer glasses with some “plus” power to reduce the demand on the accommodative system, as well as an anti-glare lens to reduce glare. A “plus” sign indicates farsightedness and the numbers represent diopters, the unit used to measure the correction, or focusing power, of the lens your eye requires.
- Use a matte screen filter on your device to reduce glare.
- Use artificial tears when your eyes feel dry.
- Make an effort to blink more frequently.
- Pay attention to the lighting in the room where you work.
- Try increasing your screen contrast.
- Take visual breaks. A good rule of thumb is to take about a 15-minute break from your device for every 45 minutes spent on your device. Another good rule of thumb is the 20-20-20 rule: 20 seconds of looking at something 20 feet away for every 20 minutes of computer/near electronic (closer than 20 feet) use. Caution: This does not mean to go from working on your computer to a “break” spent texting or playing games on your phone.
So, while blue light glasses definitely won’t hurt, how beneficial they are remains to be seen. Are you experiencing eye discomfort? Ochsner’s Vision Center is here to help.