Do Blue Light Glasses Really Make a Difference?

As more people work from home, the concern about damage from looking at digital screens for too long is a growing concern. One trending potential solution you may have heard of is blue light glasses. These special lenses are designed to protect your vision by blocking blue light from reaching your eyes. But that leaves us with a big question: do they work?

digital eye strain

While research doesn’t show that blue light glasses can prevent all digital eye strain, a lot of users do claim that they help. There’s no evidence that wearing blue light glasses is harmful for your vision at all, so it may be a good option for you if you work in front of a computer screen the majority of the time. 


Do Blue Light Glasses Work?

In short, blue light glasses have some anecdotal evidence of working. Actual research on blue light glasses has been minimal, and the results have been mixed at best. Despite a lack of conclusive research, many people have reported experiencing improved symptoms when using them. This includes less eye strain and a better night’s sleep.

Glasses that block blue light, also known as computer glasses, are the new kid on the block when it comes to eyewear innovation. But one problem with being so new is that they don’t have a lot of evidence to back up their claims. Another issue is that they’re not marketed as a medical device since they’re not regulated by the FDA. 

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), blue light does create problems for humans. However, this has more to do with how it affects your sleep than leading to some type of eye disease. Blue light before bed can affect your circadian rhythm, which can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep by preventing your body’s ability to produce melatonin.

Claims beyond this are a lot more questionable and will require more research. One study claims to have discovered a correlation between continued nighttime exposure to blue light and:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

According to the AOA, much more research and evidence are needed to back up these claims. What’s more, the effects of man-made sources of blue light can be harder to pinpoint due to there being so much variation. 

Can I Still Use Blue Light Glasses?

Despite a lack of conclusive research, blue light glasses are growing in popularity. Blue light glasses are fairly cheap, with some pairs going for as low as $50. For that price, many people think that they’re worth giving a try. Prescription and non-prescription lenses can be found easily at brick-and-mortar stores and online.

Some users don’t experience much of a difference with blue light glasses. On the other hand, some people report having fewer:

  • Headaches
  • Tired eyes
  • Sleep problems

Working from home may have increased people’s interest in blue light glasses. After all, spending all day at home, going from looking at your work computer screen to your television screen to the screen of your phone, can have a huge impact on how your eyes feel. If you find yourself going from screen to screen to screen all day, then they may be worth a try.

According to Dr. Travis:

Some patients swear by blue light glasses and others do not notice much of a difference. The main problem blue light glasses will help with is if you are having trouble sleeping after looking at screens.

Are Blue Light Glasses Safe?

With all the focus on whether blue light glasses work or not, you may find yourself asking if they’re even safe. People who stare at screens all day, whether that’s at work or at home, may want to use them as their primary glasses. Could exposure to these special lenses actually end up doing more harm than good if worn for long periods of time?

While they may be controversial among eye health experts for claims about their benefits, there has been no evidence that blue light glasses pose a threat to your vision. This means that it’s totally safe to splurge on a pair and see if they have a positive impact on how your eyes feel after a day of looking at screens.

Digital Eye Strain – The Real Culprit

For most people, tired eyes after a day of looking at screens isn’t due to blue light from digital devices. Instead, it’s the result of digital eye strain. There hasn’t been a lot of research on digital eye strain. Despite the lack of research on digital eye strain, many Americans report experiencing symptoms. 

According to The Vision Council, 60% of Americans report dealing with symptoms related to digital eye strain on a regular basis. While there may not be a lot of research on the topic, people’s experience points to a very real problem that needs to be addressed.

Also known as computer vision syndrome, this vision problem is caused by:

  • A lack of sharply defined letters
  • Reduced contrast between the letters and the background
  • Reflections and glare from the screen

According to Dr. Travis Thompson: 

When you are staring at a computer screen, you don’t blink as frequently as you normally do which spreads tears across your eyes. This will cause your eyes to dry out and cause an increased sensitivity to light, frequent tearing, and can really blur your vision up more than you would imagine. The best way to combat the dryness is preservative-free artificial tears. Avoid frequent use of any redness relieving drops, as they tend to cause your eyes to stay red constantly.

These factors along with others cause our eyes to work harder. Combine that with looking at computer screens all day and you have all the ingredients for eyes that are achy and dry. Not only that, but people also report blurred vision, headaches, and even neck and shoulder pain after staring at screens all day. 

No wonder people are interested in blue light glasses. Our eyes’ natural reaction to digital screens and monitors can easily leave them looking for relief!

How to Prevent Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain will continue to be a problem as long as screens are around. Unfortunately, getting rid of screens isn’t an option for many of us. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to help prevent and relieve your symptoms if you find yourself dealing with digital eye strain on a regular basis. 

Your first step will be to schedule a comprehensive eye exam and establish a baseline for your vision. Our optometrists at Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical will be able to check for digital eye strain, as well as other vision problems such as cataracts, diabetic eye disease, and presbyopia.  

To help prevent or relieve digital eye strain, try to:

  • Blink regularly to lubricate your eyes
  • Adjust the brightness and contrast of your digital devices
  • Use a filter screen on your devices to reduce glare
  • Sit about 25 inches away from your computer screen
  • Position yourself where you’re looking down instead of up at your screen

Another great trick is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. This involves looking at something:

  • 20 feet away
  • Every 20 minutes
  • For 20 seconds

Eye strain is a serious issue that affects millions of people who use computer screens for work. Implement these tips to address your strained and tired eyes at their source, and consider trying a pair of blue light glasses to see if they work for you. 

Do you suspect that you may be suffering from digital eye strain? Contact us today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam and learn more about what you can be doing to prevent it!

Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical has been serving Knoxville since 2009. Dr. Travis Thompson and Dr. Catherine Abbott specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of eye diseases, conditions, and problems and are committed to improving the quality of life in the Knoxville community through enhanced vision. Located at 10904 Spring Bluff Way, you can schedule an appointment online or give us a call at (865) 888-0892.

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"Dr. Thompson is super professional, and has some of the best 'bedside manner' that I have ever witnessed from any doctor. His staff was very helpful in assisting me with picking out regular frames and sunglasses. I’d happily recommend Dr. Thompson to anyone looking for a eye doctor."
Cody C.