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Blue Light Glasses: Definition, Use, Types and Benefits

What are Blue Light Glasses?

Blue light glasses have lenses that are made to help block or reduce the blue light emitted by digital screens. The blue light from digital screens is believed to have potentially harmful effects on the eyes, such as eye strain, dry eyes, blurry vision and headaches. However, these are likely symptoms of digital eye strain and dry eye according to Amy Sheppard and James Wolffsohn in a paper published in the National Library of Medicine. The question of what blue light glasses are is common, especially regarding their necessity during screen time. According to Optometry Australia's 2022 Vision Index, increased screen time from hybrid working has seen a progression in eye problems in Australians.

How Do Blue Light Glasses Work?

Blue light glasses work by lessening the amount of blue light entering the eye. The lenses are coated with a filter or built with special material that acts as a blue light filter, either absorbing or reflecting the blue light. Blue light has a short wavelength in the visible spectrum, according to Zhi-Chun Zhao, Ying Zhou, Gang Tan and Juan Li in their paper published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology. The short wavelength means a higher energy amount, often perceived as potentially harmful passing through the eye's cornea.

[Infographic of how blue light glasses protect the eyes]

Use of Blue Light Glasses

Blue light glasses, also known as screen glasses, can be used when working from a digital device or during recreational screen time. Blue light can come from laptops, computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and LED screens. Individuals may be interested in using blue light glasses when watching television, streaming videos on a tablet/laptop or browsing the internet.

Who Uses Blue Light Glasses?

Individuals who work with digital devices or experience eye discomfort may choose to use blue light glasses. Eye problems like digital eye strain and dry eyes are common with prolonged digital device use. People with these issues may associate their symptoms with blue light exposure. Those who spend their spare time on digital devices may also want to use blue light glasses for protection. Although there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether blue light is harmful, people have become more wary of its possible effects on their eyes, according to Zhi-Chun Zhao, Ying Zhou, Gang Tan and Juan Li. Blue light glasses are widely available for those with and without prescription glasses. With increased digital device use for work and entertainment, it is common for people to resort to blue light glasses for the computer.

Benefits of Blue Light Glasses

The suggested benefits of blue light glasses, based on evidence from several studies, include improved sleep quality and quantity as well as work performance. However, these benefits may differ between individuals or not occur at all. It is important to note that there is not enough evidence to support whether blue light is harmful, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology does not recommend blue light glasses. The potential benefits are:

  1. Improved sleep quality and quantity: Studies have shown that blue light from digital screens during the evening can disrupt melatonin production, a natural hormone that helps us feel sleepy when it's dark at night. Blue light glasses can minimize the amount of blue light we take in during evening screen time. Blue light helps us feel alert during the day, with the sun as the biggest source. Experiencing blue light from digital devices near sleeping hours can cause excessive stimulation to the brain and hinder melatonin secretion.
  2. Improved work performance: A study by Guarana, C. L., Barnes, C. and Ong, W. on the effects of blue light filtration on sleep and work outcomes suggested improved work performance as an outcome of using blue light glasses. The result of improved sleep quality has an overall positive influence on work performance, task engagement and work behavior.

Limitations of Blue Light Glasses

The limitations of blue light glasses include their efficacy in preventing symptoms of digital eye strain, dry eyes, long-term damage from blue light, and the effects of blue light. While a few studies show the effectiveness of blue light glasses on sleep and work improvement, the limitations also extend to whether blue light is conclusively harmful to the eyes. The limitations are:

  1. Preventing digital eye strain and dry eye symptoms: Blue light glasses have no effect in preventing symptoms such as eye strain, headaches, blurry vision or dry eyes. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the damaging effects of blue light are still under investigation. Therefore, symptoms that occur during excessive digital device use are likely caused by eye problems like digital eye strain and dry eyes, which can develop from extended screen time and reduced blinking rather than the blue light itself.
  2. Preventing long-term damage: Blue light glasses may not be useful in altering any long-term negative effects of prolonged screen time. It is strongly advised to take regular breaks while working with digital devices, use artificial tears to ensure your eyes are hydrated, and actively remember to blink more.
  3. Harmful effects of blue light: The effects of blue light have not been confirmed to be damaging to the eyes. The duration of our screen time may likely be the cause of discomfort according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Types of Blue Light Glasses

The types of blue light glasses are red, orange and yellow tinted. According to the Sleep Foundation, blue light glasses with red or orange-tinted lenses are designed to block more blue light, which may change the color of your digital device screen. Yellow-tinted glasses are intended to block a narrow spectrum of blue light and may be suitable for daytime use. Raie Eyewear offers the option to add a blue light filter to your prescription glasses. Blue light glasses for the elderly and those with diagnosed eye conditions will only differ based on their prescriptions. Raie Eyewear does not offer red, orange or yellow-tinted blue light glasses.

The different types of blue light blocking glasses include:

  1. Kids blue light blocking glasses: Normal, adult blue light blocking glasses reduced in size to fit kids.
  2. Night-time blue light blocking glasses: Designed for use with digital devices at night when it's dark and minimal natural light is present.
  3. Day time blue light filter glasses: Designed to be worn during the day.
  4. Fitover clip-on glasses: Lenses separate from the actual glasses frame that can be fitted over the frame and removed when not needed.

Blue Light Features on Display Devices

Some display devices have blue light features that may reduce the blue light emitted from the screens. For example, Apple iPhones have a Night Shift function that automatically changes the display colors to a warmer hue to help the owner get a better night's sleep. Android phones have a similar Eye Comfort Shield function that adjusts the screen's colors based on the time of day, which can also be done manually. Many modern computers and displays also have blue light features as it is a much-discussed topic in the eye care industry.

Do Blue Light Glasses Work?

It is difficult to definitively answer whether blue light glasses work as the research is still in its early stages. While a blue light lens is effective at blocking blue light, there is no definitive evidence that these glasses will protect the eyes from damage. Although the effects of blue light are still being discovered, evidence suggests that blue light has a negative effect on sleep. According to a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, blue light may cause people to release less melatonin, the chemical that aids in sleep. A blue light filter has also been suggested to help with digital eye strain caused by prolonged digital screen use. Therefore, wearing blue light glasses for computer use can be beneficial.

Can Blue Light Glasses Help with Eye Strain?

Blue light glasses can potentially help with eye strain, specifically digital eye strain. Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, is a term used to encompass a wide range of vision and eye symptoms experienced as a result of prolonged digital screen use, such as computers, phones and tablets. Digital eye strain can cause the eyes to feel fatigued, cause blurry vision and dry eyes. A blue light lens is among the possible treatments for digital eye strain, alongside taking frequent breaks from computer use, using lubricating eye drops, wearing prescription glasses and adjusting the screen brightness. If you suffer from eye strain caused by looking at a digital screen, you may benefit from wearing blue light glasses for computer use. You can find more helpful advice in our article on the 10 tips for computer eye strain relief.