Do Blue Light Glasses Really Help?  

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Emily Samson

The average American adult spends as many as 12 hours a day in front of a TV, computer, or phone, and the pandemic has likely added an hour or two to that number. There is no evidence that electronic screen usage causes eye damage. However, there is a theory that people might experience more symptoms, such as tiredness or dryness, with greater screen time. Concepts like these merit great care. It can be argued that associating screen activity or exposure with eye damage has done more harm than good. If this theory is inaccurate, it might unnecessarily increase worry about screen time and unhelpfully create or reinforce unhealthy avoidant behavior.     

The theory is that people tend to develop screen time habits, such as blinking less than usual, which can lead to more symptoms of eye dryness or irritation. In this context, one recommendation for eye health is glasses that limit exposure to blue light. Since the onset of the pandemic, blue light glass retailers have reported a surge in sales. Is this another example of creating an illness in order to sell the cure? Or is there some verifiable health benefit?  

 Blue light glasses block around 20% of blue light waves. Most light sources, such as the sun, emit a broad spectrum of light, including blue light. Electronic screens, which are made out of light emitting diodes (LEDs), emit more blue light than traditional light sources. 

Studies show that blue light helps regulate the body’s sleep cycles. During the day, blue light can boost alertness. A study of eight people suggested that too much blue light at night can disrupt the body’s sleep patterns. However, the evidence is incomplete, and this is still up for debate.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises that it is not helpful to spend money on blue light glasses, because there is insufficient evidence that eye strain is an issue or that blue light is problematic. Rather than purchasing blue light glasses, they recommend following the 20/20/20 rule to limit any unwanted eye symptoms. Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. It may also help to keep the screen an arm’s length away from your eyes and perhaps limit staring at a bright screen in a dark room. If your eyes feel dry, simply blink or take a short break from looking at your screen.,less%20than%20most%20fluorescent%20lightbulbs.

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