An extensive study has revealed that the popular blue light glasses, often worn to shield eyes from screen glare, may not provide the benefits they claim. The research, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews journal, carefully analyzed data from 17 well-regulated trials.
- These studies were deemed as the most reliable and up-to-date evidence related to this subject.
- Contrary to widespread opinion, glasses made to block blue light might not significantly alleviate eye strain or enhance sleep quality.
- Laura Downie, the lead author of this study and an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, noted in a press statement: “Consumers should consider these findings before deciding to buy these glasses.”
Scope of the Research
- The included studies varied in size and duration, ranging from five to 156 participants, and lasted from less than a day to five weeks.
- Researchers advocate for more diverse, extensive research to better understand any potential long-term effects.
- Dr. Sumeer Singh, a contributing author, emphasized the need for future studies to discern if efficacy and safety outcomes differ among diverse groups or with varied types of lenses.
Impact of Blue Light on Health
Blue light from electronic devices, like smartphones and computers, stimulates the eyes, potentially causing sleep disturbances. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in vision issues linked to prolonged screen use. The symptoms included:
- Eye strain leads to frontal headaches, and pain around and behind the eyes.
- Dry eyes and associated discomfort.
- Americans, especially during lockdowns, expressed concern over extended screen hours. An Alcon/Ipsos survey from July 2020 indicated that 60% of respondents worried about the potential adverse effects on their eyes.
However, blue light glasses aren’t the only solution that has been met with skepticism. Dr. Robert Johnson, an optometrist, highlighted earlier in the year that while screen impacts are a concern, blue light blockers might not be the solution. Dr. Johnson reassured me that these glasses cause no harm but emphasized the importance of taking screen breaks.
Rather than investing in specialized glasses, ophthalmologists recommend frequent breaks from screens. The “20-20-20 rule” suggests that after every 20 minutes of screen time, one should look at an object over 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Both Dr. Christopher Starr of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York and Dr. Johnson vouch for this approach.
Understanding the Real Cause of Eye Strain
The review further indicated that the primary source of eye strain might not be blue light emissions. Dr. Craig See, a cornea specialist at the Cole Eye Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said that other factors like presbyopia, the eye’s decreasing ability to focus on nearby objects with age, could contribute.
Tackling Eye Strain: Practical Tips
- Have your eyes checked regularly.
- Maintain an arm’s length from the computer screen.
- Consider a larger external display for laptops to improve readability and reduce strain.
- Remember to blink regularly and avoid prolonged screen sessions.
- Employ the “20-20-20 rule” or better still, walk around to avoid constant sitting which can also cause neck and back pain.
- For dry eyes, consider using a warm compress or over-the-counter artificial tears, ensuring not to overuse them due to preservative content.
While the debate over the effectiveness of blue light glasses continues, current evidence suggests that they might not deliver on their promises. As researchers explore the topic further, it’s clear that taking regular breaks from screens remains one of the most straightforward and effective strategies to counteract the adverse effects of prolonged screen exposure.