A new eyewear product has hit the market, and promises to offer relief to anyone who spends the day behind a computer or switching between digital devices. The aptly-named ‘blue light glasses’ claim to filter out blue light from your everyday environment.
Even if you haven’t heard of blue light before, you’ve certainly been exposed to it. Blue wavelengths are emitted from electronics like computers, tablets and cell phones and help to boost your mood and attention—helpful attributes when you’re focusing on completing a task. But, in recent years, blue light has also been blamed for a slew of side effects from a day spent staring at screens, like headaches, blurry vision, dry eyes and eye pain.
So, could blue light lenses be a lifesaver? Not necessarily.
“While it’s true that staring too long at a screen can result in headaches or eye pain, there is not currently any scientific evidence that blue light is what causes these symptoms or any long-term eye damage,” says Michael Negrey, MD, ophthalmologist at Riddle Hospital, part of Main Line Health.
Blue light comes from electronic devices but it comes from other sources, too, explains Dr. Negrey. Natural sunlight, as well as LED and fluorescent lighting, emit blue light but are rarely pointed to as causes of eye pain and strain. Therefore, blue light isn’t to blame and blue light glasses likely won’t reduce or eliminate these symptoms.
Instead of spending money on new lenses, Dr. Negrey recommends the 20-20-20 technique to prevent eye strain. “Whenever you’re in front of a screen, take a break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a much-needed break from staring at a screen so closely.”
Minimize blue light at night
Blue light may not be to blame for eye strain, but it can be harmful to sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) and sleep quality. If you’re interested in trying blue light glasses, the best time to try them isn’t during the day, it’s before bed. “Exposure to light at bedtime can suppress the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Low levels of melatonin have been linked to health risks like cancer and diabetes,” says Dr. Negrey.
This is why experts recommend avoiding electronics up to one hour before bedtime. However, if you absolutely must use a cell phone, computer or tablet before bed, you may give blue light glasses a try. If you’re hesitant to invest in a pair, there are other options that can reduce your exposure to blue light. Check your device’s settings to see if it offers a ‘Night Shift’ or similar feature that minimizes blue light.
See our experts in eye health
The ophthalmologists at Main Line Health, with offices throughout the Philadelphia suburbs, offer a full range of diagnostic and treatment services for diseases of the eye. Ophthalmologists are specialists that offer both medical and surgical treatments for eye conditions.
Main Line Health serves patients at hospitals and health centers throughout the western suburbs of Philadelphia. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.