Do blue light glasses for digital screens prevent eye damage?

In a Nutshell

  • Computer vision syndrome caused by long term use of digital screens is a result of poor blinking and extended staring of screen
  • Blue light blocking glasses are not preventive at controlling eye or vision damage
  • Simple lifestyle modifications can reduce the symptoms of computer vision syndrome associated with digital screen use.

What is Blue light?

People who use computers or digital screens (such as computers, television, phones, tablets etc.) for long hours often experience pain, irritation, and dryness of eyes. It is believed that all digital screens emit blue light that can lead to a variety of negative effects such as:

  • Straining, irritation, pain, and dryness of eyes
  • Alteration in the sleeping pattern as blue light alters our internal clock (also known as circadian rhythm) that tells us when to sleep and when to wake up
  • Macular degeneration (damage to macula portion of eye that can lead to loss of central vision)

It is almost impossible to escape the use of digital screens in our day to day life as our professional and personal lives depends very heavily on technology. However, certain interventions can be employed to reduce the intensity of negative effects.

Some experts suggest that blue light blocking glasses can help reduce the suffering associated with long term use of digital screens.

Do blue light glasses for digital screens prevent eye damage?

Blue light glasses are specialized lenses that are believed to filter the blue light emitted from digital screens. But are they effective at preventing eye damage?

According to American Academy of Ophthalmology, blue light blocking glasses have no role in preventing eye damage. This is because:

  • The eye strain, pain, or discomfort associated with long term use of digital screens is referred to as computer vision syndrome (or digital eye strain). Experts suggests that digital eye strain is a result of eyeball movement and shift of focus while using a digital screen and not due to blue light emission.
  • The amount of light and/or radiations emitted from digital screens is safe and there is no evidence that long-term use of digital screens can damage the retina or eye.
  • There is strong evidence that UV light exposure from sunlight is hazardous for vision and eye health and can lead to serious eye diseases such as cataract, cancer growth and retinal damage. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to protect your eyes with UV blocking sunglasses when outdoors.

What can you do to prevent or manage digital strain (or computer vision syndrome)?

Experts suggest that reduced blinking and prolonged staring while using a digital screen causes strain, discomfort, or pain of eyes and not the blue light emitted from screens. Therefore, simple lifestyle modifications can be employed to reduce the discomfort.

  • Use 20/20/20 rule i.e. after every 20 minutes, shift your gaze to a distant spot at least 20 ft away for 20 seconds.
  • Always make sure to sit at least 25 inches away from your computer screen (or about an arm length). Also position yourself in a way that the computer screen is facing slightly downwards.
  • Use artificial tears if your eyes feel dry, papery, or irritated.
  • Always sit in a well-lit room.
  • Adjust the contrast on your screen according to the light in your room, to reduce the strain on your eyes.
  • If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes a break once in while by using glasses.

Nuances/ Safety

Speak to an ophthalmologist at periodic intervals if you have vision or eye related issues. If you do not have any visual issues, get a baseline vision examination done at least once in 5 years after 40 years and once a year after you turn 65 years.

Strength of Evidence: D

The evidence presented and recommendations made in this article is supported by clinical studies and renowned organizations like American Academy of Ophthalmology, Prevent Blindness.Org and Cleveland Clinic.

Our Ruling

There is no evidence that blue light blocking glasses can prevent vision strain or eye damage associated with digital screen use as most of the negative effects are a result of screen staring, poor blinking, and focus issues. Simple lifestyle modifications can help alleviate the symptoms of computer vision syndrome.

Our Sources:

  1. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/are-computer-glasses-worth-it
  2. https://preventblindness.org/blue-light-and-your-eyes/
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/do-blue-light-glasses-work
  4. https://www.tmc.edu/news/2020/01/debunking-blue-light-glasses-claims-to-focus-on-proven-eye-issues/
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