What Are Blue Light Glasses, and Do They Really Work?

Close up of a person wearing glasses looking at a computer screen in the dark
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We live a large part of our life online. Almost everything in our daily lives is digitized, from work and shopping to news and even our social lives. We spend all day on our computers, tablets, and smartphones without hesitation, but do we ever stop to wonder if staring at digital screens all day could be harmful to our eyes?

Doctors attributed symptoms such as eye strain, headache, and eye strain to computer vision syndrome. Others believe that the blue light emitted by our devices damages our eyes and that a special pair of blue light glasses is the solution to the problem. But what exactly are blue light glasses? And are they scientifically proven to work?

What is blue light?

The screens we use every day, like our smartphones and tablets, emit blue light, which is short-wave blue light in the spectrum of colors visible to the human eye. It is the only light that passes through the cornea of ​​your eye and into your retina. The blue part of the spectrum is between 400-500 nanometers, and that’s supposed to be the peak of light that occurs around 440 nanometers that some claim is so damaging.

Person holding cell phone sitting on bed at night
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However, this claim has not yet scientifically proven by ophthalmologists and other scientists. In fact, all of the symptoms that you think could be attributed to blue light – like headaches, dry eyes, tired eyes, blurred vision, or insomnia – are actually caused by digital eye strain. . Other things can also cause eye strain, such as a room that is too bright or not bright enough, hot air blowing on your face, and even poor posture that hurts your back and neck and, as a result, sores. eyes.

The only thing scientists have so far about blue light is that it can negative impact on your sleep cycle, circadian rhythm and morning alertness. This is why you always hear doctors telling you to turn off your devices a few hours before bed, and why you often see settings on devices for night mode, which can minimize exposure to blue light.

It’s also worth noting that smartphones and laptops aren’t the only places blue light is found. It is found in many places, including in sunlight or in certain light bulbs (such as fluorescent bulbs). Any study claiming that blue light is found exclusively in digital devices and therefore damages the eyes is inconclusive at best.

What are blue light glasses and do you need them?

Two pairs of blue light blocking glasses on a white background
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Blue light blocking glasses (sometimes called computer glasses or gaming glasses) are similar to sunglasses in that they are designed to reduce eye discomfort caused by light. But rather than shielding your eyes from the bright, high-energy visible light, they just filter out the blue light that’s supposed to be so damaging.

Although eye damage from blue light has yet to be scientifically proven, many eyewear manufacturers claim it’s real and their products can help. While it’s entirely possible that the claim will gain scientific credibility at some point in the future, scientists and ophthalmologists have already performed tests and failed to find conclusive support. At this point, blue light glasses are more like another problem invented by those who claim to have the solution, available for a cost (looking at you, big pharma).

Many eyewear manufacturers, GUNNAR at Warby parker, make a variety of blue light glasses. Some have strong filters that make the lenses look yellow or orange, while others look like a regular pair of glasses. They are fairly inexpensive and readily available if you want to try a pair for yourself.

In fact, it is quite possible that anyone who uses blue light glasses will experience some relief from it. They are not a magic bullet for eye strain, but if you feel they can help you, you are free to use them. However, if your eyes continue to hurt after looking at your computer or phone all day, there are other things you can do to alleviate eye strain.

Alternatives to Blue Light glasses

Person looking out the window while holding a cup of coffee and smiling
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The easiest way to protect your eyes from eye strain is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes that you spend staring at a phone or computer screen, look away from something that is at least 6 meters away for at least 20 seconds. Your mind will appreciate the quick break and your eyes will feel less tired and strained at the end of the day. You can easily set a timer to remind you to take a break.

In the same vein, you can also limit the amount of time you use digital devices every day. So instead of scrolling through Twitter from the moment you arrive until the moment you fall asleep, try putting the phone down an hour or two before bed and doing some other activity, like reading (you know , a real book), take a walk, or play a board game.

You can also use artificial tears (think: Visine) and a humidifier to help your eyes stay more comfortable throughout the day, and be sure to check that the room you’re in is properly lit. If you have eyeglasses or contact lenses, make sure you wear them every day and have regular eye exams to make sure your prescription has not changed.

However, if you experience more intense eye discomfort, we strongly recommend that you see an optometrist and stay away from screens until you feel better.

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