Blue light, also known as blue ray light, is a specific type of short wavelength light.
This type of light is emitted by your computer screen, mobile device, flat screen TV, and many other devices with screens.
To help reduce damage from blue light, blue light glasses and lenses have been introduced. These can help limit the amount of blue light exposure your eyes get each day.
Researchers are still working to understand what blue light can do to your eyes over time.
In the meantime, evidence suggests that these types of lenses, along with certain lifestyle choices, may help treat blue light-related symptoms like dry eyes and eye strain.
Read on to find out what we know about blue light glasses, as well as what you can do to help prevent negative side effects from this type of light.
Blue light is a type of light visible on the light spectrum. It has a relatively short wavelength of 415 to 455 nanometers. For this reason, blue light rays contain more energy than many other types of light.
Blue light is not produced only by artificial sources. We see blue light naturally every time we look at a blue sky.
For thousands of years, humans were only exposed to blue light during the hours when the sun was up. Thus, our brains are trained to interpret blue light as a signal to be alert, energetic, and to keep our bodies ready for action.
This is why exposure to blue light from a device can upset your body. Your wake and sleep cycle can be disrupted by high levels of exposure to blue light, for example from an artificial source (like your smartphone) in an otherwise dark environment.
And if you’re too exposed to blue light during the day, your eyes can get tired.
Dry eye is also a side effect of too much exposure to blue light. You can be on your devices for over 10 hours every day, both at home and at work – so you may be all too familiar with these symptoms.
Enter the blue light glasses. These types of glasses are intended to filter blue light as the light waves pass through your eyes. The idea is that it would allow you to use blue light sources, like smartphones and laptops, with minimal side effects.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology does not currently recommend special blue light filtering glasses when working with computers.
This may change in the future. A
But in general, the evidence for blue light glasses as a preventative measure to reduce blue light exposure is mixed.
It’s also worth noting that this latest study was funded by blue light-blocking lens retailer Swiss Lens Laboratory Ltd. This may indicate a certain bias in the results of the study, due to private funding having a vested interest in the results likely to generate benefits for the company.
You don’t have to buy blue light glasses to reduce your exposure to blue light.
Protect your eyes from eye strain and fatigue by adopting eye health friendly habits, including:
- Take eye breaks from your screens. You can do this by taking a walk outside during the day. Avoid checking your phone during these breaks. You can also take vitamin D while you are outdoors and connect with the natural world, which can both reduce stress.
- Dim the lights in your home or workspace. Consider using a red light rather than an LED bulb as a night light in your bedroom. Red light is less likely to disrupt your circadian rhythm because red wavelengths are shorter.
- Adopt hobbies that don’t involve screens. Screen-free time – maybe spent reading, crocheting, or cooking – can help reduce your exposure to blue light.
- Consider installing “blue-free” bulbs. You can install them in your home and they will emit lower levels of blue light.
- Institute a ruler without a screen for your bedroom. Make an effort to avoid screens for 2 to 3 hours before bed.
- Create screen-free spaces in your home. You can retire to these locations for a momentary break from blue light exposure.
- Treat the symptoms of dry eye. You can do this by using over-the-counter eye drops.
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Computer vision syndrome, a set of symptoms related to screen time, affects up to 90% of computer users, according to
Symptoms of computer vision syndrome include:
The signals that blue light sends to your brain can also interfere with your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. It can be difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep after using your devices at night.
And beyond the quality of sleep, the disruption of melatonin disrupts your entire body’s hormonal balance.
Poor quality of sleep can also change the way your body experiences stress. When you aren’t getting REM sleep, your mind isn’t able to relax completely.
Exposure to blue light can already cause symptoms like eye strain and dry eyes.
If these symptoms don’t go away with lifestyle changes and self-care strategies, talk to an eye doctor.
You should also make an appointment with an eye doctor if you experience the following symptoms:
- frequent bouts of eye strain
- eye strain that lasts for days
- prolonged and frequent symptoms of dry eye
- decrease in the quality of your vision
- Blurred vision
When it comes to blue light glasses, the final verdict is yet to be made on their ability to significantly reduce your exposure to blue light and associated exposure symptoms.
But limiting blue light exposure, adopting habits to take better care of your eyes, and taking breaks from your screens can all help you avoid dry eyes and eye fatigue caused by blue light exposure.