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Chances are that you have heard of “blue light” before. Many people make claims that this blue light can cause damage to your eyes. Some claims go as far as to say that blue light may cause the “c-word”. Do blue light glasses actually work?
Do blue light glasses work to reduce eye fatigue, cure cataracts caused by blue light and more? The truth is that blue light may or may not actually be harmful to your eyes, but it’s more on the may not side.
What Is Blue Light?
To explain what blue light is we must first examine visible light. Visible light is the type of light that we can see with our eyes. There are several other forms of light including; gamma, ultraviolet, and x-ray.
Sunlight is the most basic example of a visible light source. The sun emits visible light that contains red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple colors.
These colors depend on the wavelength of the rays. Combining these colors together creates “white light”. The wavelength of purple light is shorter than the wavelength of red light meaning that red light has less energy than blue light.
The claim then is that certain “blue light blocking” lenses can shield your eyes from the blue light waves of visible light. The theory these eyeglass companies state is that these blue light shielding glasses can help prevent several negative eye conditions.
The question is: do blue light glasses actually work as intended? First, let’s discuss some facts.
Where is Blue Light?
Blue light is everywhere. Everyday you will come in contact with a lot of blue light. Sunlight is the main source of light meaning that it is also the main source of blue light. This is the most common source of exposure to blue light.
Pretty much any source of light that you experience throughout the day will be some exposure to blue light. Some sources will be more “blue” than others.
This is typically due to the color temperature of the sources. Different temperatures appear more “warm” or “cool” to our eyes. For example the most blue light on the scale below is the 10000K (K = kelvin) color temperature.
This cooler temperature is typically the signature of LED lights, fluorescent bulbs, computer monitors and televisions. There are several complicated reasons to why computer monitors and televisions have the color temperatures that they do (they can be adjusted, especially for professionals working with photo/video editing), but usually the reason is to increase screen brightness.
Blue Light Filters & Blue Light Blocking Glasses
As mentioned before blue light blocking glasses or blue light filters claim to block or reduce the blue light that will hit your eye. Similar to 100% UV Filtering sunglasses, except with visible light. This effect will cause these glasses to have a red or yellow tinted viewing due to those being the only forms of visible light left to show through.
These glasses companies are claiming that blue light from computer/TV screens are harming your eyes. They are making radical claims such as that this blue light is causing severe damage to your retina, can cause macular degeneration, cause cancer and the big claim of eye fatigue.
These are some serious claims, but are they true? Do blue light blocking glasses actually work?
The Truth: They Just Block Blue Light, That’s It
The truth is that these blue light blocking glasses will block the blue light. This is evidenced by looking through the glasses and seeing a red/yellow tinted viewing. So, if you consider that “working”, then they work. Your cell phone most likely emits 30 times less blue light than the sun does on a typical sunny day.
But, the non-truth is that these blue light blocking glasses will have any positive affect on reducing eye fatigue, macular degeneration, cataracts, cancer or any of the other claims that some of these companies make.
According to Dr. Sunir Garg blue light from screens is not harmful. He says that these claims are not data driven and there is not research to back up these claims made.
The real reason your eyes feel fatigued is not because of blue light, but is actually because you don’t blink as often. When you’re looking at a screen you’re more likely to not blink causing your eye to dry out. This dryness causes your eyes to become irritated, scratchy, and tired.
What You Can Do to Actually Protect Yourself
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and look 20 feet off in the distance to break the near staring. This will result in your eyes not drying out as quickly, therefore reducing fatigue and irritability.
Another solution is to buy blue light blocking glasses! This sounds quite contradicting to everything said so far, but honestly for some people they might work. Using blue light blocking glasses can provide a placebo (a harmless treatment with a psychological benefit, but no physiologic benefit. This effect can create a sense of comfort for people. Most pairs on Amazon are under $20 and might be worth a try!
Some other helpful tips:
- Stop smoking
- Use your phone’s night mode (automatically reduces blue light)
- Get adequate rest
- Take breaks periodically
- Quiet down use before bed
- Get adequate exercise