Blue Light Lenses – Helpful or Waste of Money?
If you are old enough to remember your grandparents cautioning against sitting too close to the television set – you’ll ruin your eyesight! – then you probably recognize eye strain in today’s digital environment is not surprising. But do those blue light glasses actually help reduce eye strain or are they just a fad?
The average American spends more than seven hours a day staring at screens – smartphones, computers, television. Gen Z spends even longer, racking up more than nine hours of screen time per day.
You may not notice a difference reading words on a digital screen versus reading print, but your eyes notice. Reading digitally forces eyes to focus on glowing pixels coming from reflective surfaces. That glow is high-energy visible (HEV) light more commonly known as blue light. The near constant workout of our eyes focusing and refocusing leads to digital eye strain. Symptoms can include:
- Sore, red, tired or dry eyes
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty focusing
Consumers can purchase blue light blocking lenses or filters that range from $25 to more than $200. But medical professionals say blue light isn’t the biggest problem, since there is more blue light in natural sunlight than from digital devices. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology does not recommend the use of blue light glasses since there is no credible scientific evidence that the light from digital screens is harmful.
But blue light isn’t completely off the hook. Studies have shown blue light interrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, which impacts sleep. Before bed is when those glasses might actually help. Individuals who wear blue light blocking lenses a few hours before bed, when watching television or scrolling on their phone, have reported improved sleep.
For the rest of the day, consider these tips to reduce eye strain:
- Take frequent breaks during screen time.
- Incorporate the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes you look at a screen, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Refresh tired, dry eyes with over-the-counter artificial tears.
- Schedule a vision exam and use corrective glasses or contacts, if required.
Remember that moderation is always helpful especially since we monitor our smartphones 24-7, work or study on computers or laptops and watch television or movies on our tablets or big screens. Consider tracking your overall screen time for a baseline, incorporate more outdoor time into your routine and add hobbies that aren’t digitally based.