Effectiveness of Blue-light-blocking glasses

Most people working online spend a large part of their day looking at gadget like a computer, phone, tablet which is emitting blue light. Staring at the screen of these gadget for longer time periods continuously may cause an eye strain caused computer vision syndrome (CVS). Blurry vision, headaches, redness and dry eyes are some of the symptoms of CVS. Some eyeglass manufacturers claim that they have developed glasses for blocking blue light which is emitted by a variety of electronic equipment. However the effectiveness of these glasses in reducing eyestrain is not yet fully confirmed. Hence additional information is provided to help prospective buyers of eyeglasses take the right decision.

Understanding blue light

Most light, including sunlight will contain some amount of light which corresponds to the wavelength of blue light. Blue light has a shorter wavelength when compared to light of other colors. This is relevant because doctors claim that light with a shorter wavelength is more likely to cause eye damage. While many electrical gadgets and appliances including light bulbs emit some amount of blue light, the percentage of blue light is higher in the light from televisions and computer screens. Liquid crystal displays, abbreviated as LCD displays are used extensively since they produce extremely clear and bright images. However, these LCD displays will also produce far more blue light compared to non-LCD displays

Exposure to high levels of blue light has several adverse effects on a persons health which are

- The circadian rhythm is adversely affected, making it more difficult to fall asleep every night

- Increases eyestrain

- Causes vision fatigue

- May cause headaches

However there are some benefits of blue light. Since this light is included in sunlight, it can make the person alert as is an indicator that the person should wake up from sleep, and start his daily routine. Additionally a large part of the research and experiments on the correlation between eye damage and blue light, are conducted in controlled conditions in laboratories on mice and other animals. This makes it difficult to accurately guess how human beings are actually being affected by exposure to blue light.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology( abbreviated as AAO), claims that the blue light which electronic devices are emitting will not lead to any eye ailment. They claim that there are other ways to get better sleep like avoiding using any electronics with a blue screen for a few hours before going to sleep.

Glasses for blocking blue light

Since the side effects and damage caused due to extended exposure to blue light are confirmed, eye glass manufacturers are developing lenses to reduce the damage.

These lenses for eyeglasses have a specially developed tint or coating which will block or reflect back the blue light,so that it does not reach the eyes. Manufacturers claim that wearing these specially developed eye glasses for blue light will prevent damage to the eyes, reduce eye strain and also make it easier to sleep at night. However, these businesses are not able to provide sufficient research data to support their claim.

Experts at AAO recommend that people who use electronic gadgets extensively should wear eyeglasses instead of contact lenses. This recommendation is because using contact lenses for a longer period of time can cause irritation and dryness of the eye.

How blue-light-blocking glasses can help

While manufacturers use theoretical information to make blue-light-blocking glasses, they are not able to provide supporting research data, In 2017, a reputed organization checked the results of three different research studies on the connection between eyestrain and wearing blue-light-blocking glasses. There was no reliable evidence which proved that blue light blocking would improve sleep, eye sight or reduce strain on the eyes.

In 2017, 36 test subjects were asked to wear either a placebo or blue-light glasses and complete a task on their computer for a two hour period. It was observed that the participants wearing the blue-light-block glasses faced less eye pain, eye strain or itching of the eyes compared to others who wore the placebo. However some other researchers are not willing to accept these results because they may be biased.

In 2021, a similar experiment was carried out on 120 researchers with glasses for blue-light blocking and clear glasses. In this study also the participants were asked to complete a task on the computer for two hours. Researchers found that there was no difference in the levels of eyestrain of participants from either group.

Cost of blue-light-blocking glasses

The Blue-light-blocking glasses can be purchased as

- Specialized eye glasses for for blocking blue light

- Reading glass available over the counter (OTC) costing between $13-$60. However, if prescription glasses are required, they will be more expensive

- For prescription lenses, a frame will also have to be purchased. The overall cost depends on the frame selected, with prices varying between $120 to $200.

Individuals who have purchased medical insurance, may get some reimbursement from their insurance company

Guidelines for purchasing the right glasses

Though a large number of retail stores are selling the blue-light-blocking glasses, more eye-care professionals do not endorse them. Some of the considerations while purchasing the glasses are

- Availability : the glasses are sold at most major sun-glass retailers. Online glass stores allow customers to order a blue-light-blocking coating on the glasses which they sell.

- Individuals who plan to use their glasses outdoors should also ensure that they offer ultraviolet radiation protection

- Comfort : Buyers should ensure that the glasses they purchase are comfortable to wear, are not tight, do not slide down the nose and are light in weight

Individuals who are not confident about the effectiveness of these glasses should purchase the cheapest blue light glasses which they can afford.

Conclusion

Though there is very less research to prove the effectiveness of the blue-light-blocking glasses, those who spend more time working on their computer, watching television may wish to try them to reduce the strain on their eyes. There are other options also available like using eye drops, taking a break from computer work and not wearing contact lenses. Consulting a competent ophthalmologist may also help.

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