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Do Computer Users Really Need Blue Light Filtering Glasses?

You can find them everywhere, from the pharmacy to your optometrist’s office, but you may want to wait to buy a pair.

Image: Shutterstock / fizkes

It’s 2 p.m. and you’ve been staring at your laptop screen all day. We’ve all been through this: Itchy eyes, blurry vision, and all the other symptoms of eye strain is something most of us suffer from, especially those of us in the course of our work that make us feel bad. leads to read (or write) to TechRepublic.

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If you’ve been looking for a solution to eye strain from your computer, you’ve probably heard of blue light and its reported contribution to your discomfort. You’ve probably also seen advertisements or product recommendations for glasses that claim to filter the blue light emitted from computer screens, reduce the chances of macular degeneration, and reduce discomfort – is the solution really that simple?

It depends who you ask, but that doesn’t mean the answer is ready-made, especially when it comes to answering the question of whether these over-the-counter glasses will help reduce what is commonly referred to as computer vision syndrome.

What is blue light and what does it do to our eyes?

Light operates on a spectrum and different wavelengths produce different colors of light. Blue wavelengths, according to Harvard Health, “Are beneficial during the day because they stimulate attention, reaction times and mood”, and conversely effective at night, because they can disrupt the natural rhythm of the body by confusing it with the light that it does not is supposed to have that during the day.

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Blue light is also very energetic, Harvard Health said, containing more energy per photon than any other part of the visible spectrum of light. Because it’s more energetic, Harvard said, it’s more likely to cause damage to various parts of our body when absorbed.

Now for the eyes: The American Macular Degeneration Foundation says that blue light, and ultraviolet light that is near, but outside of the visual range, on the spectrum, “is generally considered harmful to the eyes, which can lead to cataracts and other eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). ”

The argument in favor of blue light filtering glasses therefore makes perfect sense: we wear sunscreen to protect our skin, so we have to do the same for our eyes, even indoors because we are constantly using screens that emit sunlight. blue light.

Dr Howard Crane, an optometrist from Michigan, said he had seen enough eye damage in young patients to cause him to say it was not a myth. “Blue light certainly causes damage to the retina, and in particular to the macula (the area at the back of the eye where vision is focused). I look a lot in the eyes of people who are on computers, and I’m seeing that there is damage to the macula, and it’s definitely from the blue light, ”Crane said.

The macula, Crane explained, is where the sharpest part of our vision comes from. Older people often suffer from macular degeneration due to aging and long-term sun damage, but Crane said he sees it more and more often in young people. “If you lose your macula you will end up with severe vision loss which is, at this point, irreversible,” Crane said.

Blue light filtering glasses to the rescue?

Dr Crane believes that wearing blue light blocking glasses is extremely important. “We are constantly receiving blue light from almost everything we use today, and it is damaging my patient’s eyes.”

However, the glasses themselves may not be such a straightforward, dry product. The second of the Harvard Health articles linked above states that LED lights in electronic devices are nowhere near powerful enough to cause lasting damage. “Consumer electronics are not harmful to the retina due to the amount of light emitted. Newer iPhones have a peak brightness of around 625 candelas per square meter,” Harvard Health said. Many retail stores have twice the ambient lighting, while the sun is ten times the size of the iPhone, Harvard Heath added.

“Compared to the risk of aging, smoking, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and being overweight, exposure to typical levels of blue light from consumer electronics is negligible in terms of increased risk of Macular degeneration or blindness, ”Harvard Health said.

Typical over-the-counter blue light filtering glasses also filter only about 20-30% of blue light, which Crane says is far too weak to be effective. If you plan to buy blue light glasses in the store, put them back on – they just won’t do the job, if needed, and Harvard also pointed out that many manufacturers of over-the-counter blue light glasses have been fined for making misleading statements.

How to fight blue light damage and computer vision syndrome

You may have noticed a distinction between two terms used in this article: Eye damage and computer vision syndrome, the latter showing symptoms of eye strain, fatigue, and muscle pain instead of macular degeneration.

There is a clear difference, and it is one that an NPR interview clearly indicates: There is no mechanism by which blue light causes digital eye strain. It’s more likely that you can attribute this to your poor posture.

Eye damage, on the other hand, is something we know blue light does. It’s also not enough to just buy a pair of over-the-counter filter glasses, Crane said, because you can’t verify the legitimacy of the manufacturer’s claims and they’re usually too weak.

SEE: Home video setup: what you need to look and sound professional (TechRepublic)

In addition to getting quality blue light filtering lenses, Dr. Crane also recommends that people perform the recommended standard exercises to reduce eye strain and discomfort, which again is something separate from damage. macular.

Crane suggests the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look at something at least 20 feet away. “You can adjust that to 5-5-5, 10-10-10 or whatever makes you feel more comfortable,” Crane said. He also recommends regular stretching, breaks and good posture, which he says can help relieve muscle tension and reduce fatigue.

Eye damage from electronic devices may still be the subject of debate, but ultimately it may simply be “better safe than sorry” when it comes to irreversible macular degeneration. You might not even need to go out and buy a pair of dedicated blue light glasses if you already wear corrective lenses: Crane said many existing pairs contain blue light filters because it is a standard feature of many glare reduction technologies.

If you decide you need a pair, you won’t hurt yourself; Just make sure you buy a pair from a reputable source.

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