A blue light blocker does nothing for eye strain

Blue light blockers have gained in popularity. But do they do what you think they do?

Dr. Manveen Bedi 3 minute read June 9, 2021
blue light

Blue light isn't a silver bullet for tired, strained eyes after too much screen time. Getty

There has been a lot of debate and misinformation about blue light glasses, also known as blue blocker glasses, and the role they play — if any — in preserving vision. In fact, they even made it onto Buzzfeed’s top 28 list of the things from Amazon that reviewers swear by for working from home. But before you add a set of blue light glasses to your shopping list, it’s important to understand how  — and if — they do what you expect them to do.

Blue light and eye health
In our daily lives, the main source of blue light we are exposed to is the sun, not computer and phone screens. While screens do emit a small amount of blue light, there has been no research supporting the damage of eye structures from it. However, there is abundant literature suggesting that not wearing sunglasses or a UV light blocker when outdoors can result in retinal pathologies. Make sure you wear sunglasses when outdoors as it will help with preserving vision and preventing long term damage and diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Blue blockers and computer strain
Digital eye strain has become a reality with the long hours of virtual work that many of us have been maintaining since the beginning of the pandemic. And while blue blockers have gained popularity for their role in preventing computer-related eye strain, a recent study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology found no difference between the amount of eyestrain reduction experienced by those with blue blocker glasses and those in the placebo group.

Sleep and blue light
While blue light may not pose risk to vision, it does have consequences for sleep, interfering with the body’s production of melatonin — a key hormone that influences our sleep and wake cycle. During the day, melatonin production is suppressed and in the dark, its production is initiated and this triggers sleep, making us feel drowsy. Too much blue light exposure before sleep, however, disrupt this cycle making it more difficult to fall asleep. One strategy to prevent blue light sleep disturbance is to refrain from using digital screens one to two hours before bedtime.

While the experts are not sure of the role that blue blocker glasses play in preventing eye strain or eye diseases, there are some things you can do to alleviate eye strain after a long day in front of the screen:

20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes of near or computer work, take a 20 seconds break, and look 20 feet away and blink your eyes.

Sleep hygiene. Stop using digital devices such as phones, tablets, and computers an hour or so before bedtime.

Distance yourself. Maintain an arm’s length distance from the computer and adjust the brightness of your screen.

Blink. When we work on computers, the rate at which we blink slows down, resulting in eye fatigue and dryness. Blinking more helps to replenish tear film and maintain eye lubrication.

Dr. Manveen Bedi is a Brampton, Ontario-based optometrist who focuses on specialty contact lens fitting for corneal pathologies, aphakia, and prosthetics as well as myopia control and dry eyes. Follow her vision health tips on instagram @drmbedi. She can be reached at info@drmbedi.com.

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