Blue Light and Blue Light Blocking Glasses: Are They Worth It?

set it down - What is Blue light?

 

Do you remember when you were younger and your parents would tell you not to sit too close to the television? It’s strange how times have changed because prior to the pandemic, I don’t think I visited a single restaurant where there wasn’t some young child with an iPad practically glued to their face and whatever video they were watching at top volume. 

Due to COVID-19, most of us have spent a lot of time inside and online whether it be for work, schooling, or even just to pass the time. I know I feel my heart sink whenever my phone sends me an alert about how much screen time I’ve had for the day. It’s always way more than I’m expecting. 

But how is all this extra screen time, whether it be for business or pleasure, affecting our body physically? There’s been a lot of talk around blue light and how the added time on our devices could be damaging our eyes. Maybe you’ve seen your favorite influencer showing off a brand new pair of blue light blocking glasses, claiming they were necessary for someone whose career had them constantly looking at their screens.

I am someone who is on my computer a lot and I’ve toyed with the idea of purchasing blue light glasses for a while now. My eyesight is not great and I already wear glasses most of the time because I’m nearsighted. The last thing I want to do is weaken my eyes any further. 

 

what is blue light? - set it down

 

But, are blue light blocking glasses worth it? Especially when many of them come with a ridiculous price tag?

Well, let’s dig a little deeper:

In 2017, the University of Houston published a study in which they detailed how they'd surveyed a group of 22 people aged 17-42 regarding their sleeping schedules with and without blue light glasses. When the group wore their glasses for three hours a day, they reported feeling better rested in the morning and their nighttime melatonin levels had increased by 58%.

This information isn’t exactly new.

The National Sleep Foundation has been suggesting that you put your phone away at least 30 minutes before bed for a few years now, so I’m not exactly convinced that I need to make the purchase. Putting my phone away a little earlier than normal is free, whereas blue light glasses can be quite expensive with some of the highly rated pairs retailing upwards $75 USD. 

Harvard Medical School released an article in 2019 which claimed that blue light does not damage the retina. The article explains how we get 10x more blue light from the sun than any device. During the day this is a positive thing as blue light can improve one’s mood and increase their alertness.

This becomes a problem at night, when one wants to sleep and it has been proven to mess up one’s biological clock. In regards to the accuracy of blue light glasses, there’s a link to another article which discusses the lack of evidence suggesting that blue light blocking glasses protect your retina at all and details how an advertiser of the glasses, Boots Opticians, had recently been fined for misleading claims regarding such. 

Finally, in 2021, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (which is the study of the eye) released their report which described how any pain felt while looking at a device was eye strain and not any permanent damage to the retina. The American Academy of Ophthalmology also had something to add to the discussion of the usefulness of blue light glasses by saying that they do not recommend the glasses for the same reason as the Harvard Medical School: lack of evidence

There is no current evidence to suggest that blue light is damaging to your eyes and there’s no need to drop major dough for the blue light blocking glasses. However, this, of course, doesn’t mean you should spend every waking moment behind a screen! There’s still plenty of research that suggests how doing so could be damaging to one’s mental health. For now though, remember to take some time before bed to put away the device and prepare yourself for a restful sleep.