What are Blue Light Glasses?
The concept of blue light glasses may be familiar to you. They became especially popular during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when everyone was working from home, attending classes remotely, and basically living their lives on their screens. Blue light is the light that is typically emitted from TVs, computers, tablets, phones, and most electronics. Blue light glasses are designed to filter out blue light through the filter incorporated in the lenses.
While at first glance, blue light is not harmful to the naked eye, prolonged exposure can cause damage and/or worsen eyesight. Beyond compromised eyesight, it has been claimed by researchers and designers that excessive exposure to blue light can also result in headaches, poor sleep quality, and eyestrain. There are many claims, but does the research back them up? Should you save or splurge? Let’s dive into the facts.
Are Blue Light Glasses Effective
Studies conducted to examine the effectiveness of blue light glasses have shown mixed results. Overall, blue light glasses certainly can do more good than harm. A 2017 study asserted that there was no identifiable link between the usage of blue light glasses and improvements in visions, reduction in eyestrain, or improved sleep quality. However, another study in 2017 tested whether or not blue light glasses exhibited a placebo effect or not. This study’s participants had to complete a 2-hour long computer task while either wearing blue light glasses or not. By the end of it, the participants who wore blue light glasses reported less eye pain, eye strain, and itching than those who wore the normal glasses. This study was recreated in 2021 on a larger scale and as a result, they did not find a difference in level of eyestrain between the placebo and treatment groups.
Should You Splurge or Skip Blue Light Glasses?
Basically, you can save your money on this one. Blue light glasses can be helpful if you find yourself struggling with eye strain or dryness as a result of being at the screen for long periods of time. It is definitely worth the try, but it has yet to be proven as effective enough to justify it as a mainstream purchase.
If you choose to not invest in blue light glasses, there are plenty of practices that can help reduce eyestrain, such as using eye drops, taking a break from the screen, or changing the lighting mode on your computer.
The effectiveness of blue light glasses truly depends on the user. Luckily, many of the manufacturers and websites that sell blue light glasses, today, allow free trials and free returns in the case that the buyer finds them ineffective. If you are able to find a seller with reasonable and flexible policies in terms of trial periods and you are dealing with symptoms of prolonged screen time, I would definitely recommend, at least, trying them out. However, if it ends up being out of your budget, you would not be missing out.
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-Written by Kaila An (MPH Candidate, USC)