If you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen every day, chances are you’ve heard about blue-light-blocking glasses. These glasses are easy to purchase and often come in a variety of colors and patterns.
But how effective are they? And do they actually help improve digital eye health?
Dr. Christina Weng, an ophthalmologist with Baylor Medicine, discusses blue-light-blocking glasses and shares tips for preventing digital eye strain.
Q: Why are blue-light-blocking glasses popular right now?
A: During the past year, there has been increased curiosity about blue-light-blocking glasses. The way we work and connect with people is now often through screens. Companies that are selling these glasses often claim that they decrease digital eye strain, help prevent eye disease, and improve sleep.
However, The American Academy of Ophthalmology doesn’t endorse or recommend using blue-light-blocking glasses because there is no scientific evidence that they do any of these things.
Q: Can you share more about these common claims?
A: Allow me to elaborate:
- Digital eye strain (or computer vision syndrome): Digital eye strain is not related to the blue light coming from computers – it’s caused by forcing our eyes to look at a screen up close for long periods of time. The four main symptoms of digital eye strain are dry eyes, headache, sensitivity to light, or blurry vision.
- Eye disease: There is no evidence currently that blue light from computers will lead to eye disease. In fact, there’s more blue light emitted from sunlight than our screens. UV light is more dangerous and can lead to eye cancer and cataract growth.
- Sleep health: Theoretically, there is a link between better sleep and limiting blue light. But the amount of blue light coming from our screens is minimal, so it’s questionable as to whether or not circadian rhythms can be improved with these glasses. If you want better sleep, I suggest turning on the night or low-light mode on your phone rather than using blue light-blocking
Q: What are some ways to help prevent digital eye strain?
A: It’s important to take frequent breaks when you’re on your screen so that the quality of your vision doesn’t suffer as a result of overuse. I recommend following the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes you spend using a screen, you should look away at an object that is 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. That will give your eyes a chance to relax and regain their strength.
Q: Is there a difference between blue-light-blocking glasses purchased online vs. prescription glasses with a blue light filter?
A: Usually, when you get a prescription pair of glasses from an optometrist or ophthalmologist, it’s a custom pair of glasses with lenses that are made to fit your exact power; however, I am not sure that there is a significant difference between in the blue light portion compared to over-the-counter versions. This may be manufacturer specific.
Q: Is there any evidence that blue-light-blocking glasses are harmful?
A: There are no long-term scientific studies looking at what happens if you wear the glasses too much. I don’t believe they are dangerous to wear, but I also don’t think it’s dangerous not to wear them. While I can’t speak for all of my colleagues, I personally do not wear blue-light-blocking glasses.
Q: Any other advice you’d like to share?
A: Aside from the financial cost, I don’t think there’s much risk when it comes to wearing blue-light-blocking glasses, but I would encourage potential buyers to make sure that any medical claims they may read are scientifically-based.
Dr. Weng is an associate professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine. Learn more Baylor Eye Care services or call 713–798–6100.
-By Nicole Blanton