In the digital age, computer devices give us a lot of advantages, but they have their drawbacks too. One drawback is that we spend huge portions of our days looking at screens, and there's not a lot we can do to completely avoid screen time. What happens when you stare at the screen too long? Excessive screen time can lead to digital eye strain, headaches, fatigue, and other problems. We need a solution, and many people are turning to blue light glasses. Do they work as advertised, or are they the modern snake oil? So the question is, do blue light blocking glasses really work?
What Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Do?
So, how do blue light blocking glasses work? The claim is that blue light filtering can reduce eye strain when using computer screens for extended periods of time. The idea is that blue light is a big part of digital eye strain, so reducing the amount of blue light hitting the eye will mitigate the problem. On its surface, it all sounds reasonable, but does it hold up to scientific scrutiny?
A Quick Lesson in Optics
When it comes to the light itself, blue light has more energy density than light closer to the red end of the spectrum. This means that blue light hits your optical receptors with more force than the other colors can. Filtering some of the blue light does reduce the total amount of energy that can reach your eyes, which could conceivably reduce eye strain.
That said, blue light is everywhere. There's way more blue light in sunlight than will ever come from your screens, and your eyes are definitely adapted to handle the blue light. Optics alone cannot answer the ultimate question. Blue light blocking glasses can reduce the amount of energy hitting your eyes, but does that really make a difference for eye strain?
A Theoretical Discussion
There are two ways to try to answer the question from a biological point of view: through theory and clinical data. Starting with theory, there is merit to the idea of blue light filtering. By reducing the total amount of electromagnetic energy hitting the eye, your eyes are likely to dilate a little more, and you're likely to squint a little less. These are small margins, but they can add up over time.
It's important to understand that the blue light itself is not directly causing strain. Instead, your physical reaction to the light (such as squinting or wrinkling your face) is what builds up tension over time and can lead to headaches, pain, and other issues.
This means that in theory, blue light filtering can mitigate some strain. Of course, so can spending less time looking at screens — especially if you reduce your screen time after dark.
Clinical Data Of Blue Light
So, blue light filters work in theory. That doesn't mean that the theoretical will translate into the practical. Ultimately, clinical research is the only way to truly settle this debate, and it's severely lacking. We don't have a conclusive answer to the question, but there are a few things that are known for sure. Here is a breakdown of blue light blocking glasses review:
First is that reducing screen time is more effective than specialty glasses. There's no question on that one.
Second is that prescription glasses can reduce eye strain regardless of color filters. Many anecdotal cases of patients feeling better when they get a blue filter can really be attributed to update in their prescriptions.
The third thing we know is that if blue light filters work, the effect isn't strong enough to be overwhelmingly apparent in the limited research that has been done.
Lastly, we know that a lot of patients claim to notice a difference when they use blue light filters, and that shouldn't be ignored.
The Final Verdict: Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Work?
So, what's the final answer? Blue light filtering has a mild impact on eye strain at best. That alone should not be a good reason to invest in expensive glasses. That said, there are additional benefits to blue light-filtering, and they may be enough to justify the expense. Most of those benefits pertain to sleep. This study by the University of Houston can tell you how blue light filtering is very effective in improving sleep quality.