See the light

 

Instagram influencers are promoting blue light glasses, but can they outsmart science?

Influencers are promoting trendy blue light-blocking glasses that claim to reduce eye strain, but there is minimal evidence of their usefulness. Influencers — individuals who grew their followings through social media — are being recruited by various Eyewear companies to sell their blue-light blocking glasses, saying the glasses will protect wearers from “headaches, blurry vision, poor sleep and long-term retina damage” that blue light causes.

According to RANZCO, companies that sell blue light-blocking glasses suggest a relationship exists between digital screens and eye strain.

Reviewing current literature, it can be concluded there is little evidence with respect to using blue light blocking spectacles to improve visual performance. In addition, there are no studies showing such filters can conserve macular health. It should also be noted that avoiding all blue light may have unwanted effects as there is some weak evidence that blue light is useful in the daytime to improve concentration and mood

In an age of influencers promoting everything from weight loss supplements to beauty products we are seeing a shift in promoting blue-light blocking glasses despite the lack of scientific evidence surrounding their efficacy. The claims associated with blue-light glasses are simple enough for an Instagram caption, and the angst they address is common enough to stick with people through the infinite scroll.

Blue light blocking glasses state that they can help people get a better night of sleep, but research has yet to prove these glasses can prevent or decrease screen-related eye strain.

 

On various websites of eyewear companies, they rend to describes the blue light glasses with the text, “Filter out the active blue light before it causes any more damage!” They go on to explain that blue light isn’t anything new, but “the more we’re in front of screens, the more we expose ourselves to its damaging effects.” Such companies are also saying strong blue light waves come from digital screens like laptops, phones, and TV screens and their product “diffuses harmful rays” from these devices.

Unlike what Eyewear companies descriptions suggest, blue light glasses won’t help with eye strain you experience during the daytime. The trendy spectacles could still potentially help you get to sleep faster, since it has been suggested that blue light interferes with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. 

There is a rise in eye health deterioration and eye strain, but blue light isn’t to blame

There isn’t, however, a direct relationship between eye strain or eye damage and how much time you spend looking at a digital screen. Rather, “eye strain is about the disparity between the things you want to look at and the natural focusing of your eyes, and how long you do it. What is “digital eye strain”? When concentrating for long periods whether at a printed page or computer screen we tend not to blink as often. This can lead to dryness of the ocular surface and make the eyes feel tired. Some people may also have trouble adjusting focus from near to far after spending a long time on near tasks. Regular breaks when reading and using digital devices can be helpful to reduce these symptoms. If symptoms of digital eye strain do not settle with these simple measures it is important to get checked by an eye healthcare professional to ensure health of the eyes and that correct reading glasses are being worn if required. 

If you want to prevent eye strain, skip the blue light glasses and use tried-and-true solutions

Paul McCarthy, Optometrist and owner of Eyes on the Road Locum Optometry says “the jury is sort of out regarding the effect of blue light on ocular health but it seems it’s emission is too low from digital devices to be harmful but more likely to effect circadian rhythms than eyes. Reducing brightness by 20% on devices is what I recommend plus the night filter”

Instead of shelling out for a pair of blue light specs, consider some research-approved ways to prevent and decrease eye strain, like blinking often, taking breaks from screen time, enlarging screen type sizes for easier reading, and using artificial tears if needed.

A classic eye health reminder throughout your device-filled day.

Every 20 minutes, look 20 metres away for 20 seconds.

Your eyes will thank you