Jennifer Lopez wears them, Kylie Jenner and Rashida Jones promote them, and Drew Barrymore sells them. Blue light glasses become an accessory to our long-lasting screen-conveyed moment. But do we need them?
Blue light glasses are equipped with lenses that filter out certain waves of light emitted by the sun and, to a lesser extent, digital devices such as phones, laptops, and tablets. Blue light is not inherently bad; It increases alertness and alertness during the day. But it suppresses the natural production of melatonin at night.
By limiting exposure to blue light by just 20 percent, companies say, a customer could sleep better, experience less eye strain, and prevent possible retinal damage.
However, scientists are not convinced that glasses are a worthwhile investment.
“Whichever aspect you look at, it is very difficult to justify spending the extra money,” said Dr. John Lawrenson, Professor of Clinical Visual Science in the City of the University of London. (Prices vary, but start at around $ 20.) After reviewing several studies testing the effectiveness of lenses for blocking blue light, he and his colleagues concluded that the glasses were not required.
Digital eye strain is real, but it’s impossible to say for sure that the culprit is blue light. “No one has established an independent causal relationship between the blue light coming from the computer and the visual symptoms,” said Dr. Lawrenson. He recommended going to the ophthalmologist for an exam instead of rushing to buy non-prescription glasses.
Regardless of this, the blue light category is booming. A quick Google search brings up several brands that sell almost exclusively “computer glasses” (such as Felix Gray, who raised more than $ 1.7 million in funding in 2020 and, according to PitchBook, the total funding from September to 7, $ 8 million) than prescription eyewear companies like Zenni (which the company said sold two million pairs of its Blokz lenses in 2020) and Jins (which saw an increase in online orders last year). If you’ve recently shopped at Warby Parker, you’ve probably been asked if you wanted to add a blue light filter to your lenses.
“With many customers working from home over the past year, the demand for these lenses soared,” wrote Neil Blumenthal, managing director of Warby Parker, in an email. “Last April we saw a significant increase specifically in non-prescription blue light filtering lenses, and we have seen that trend continue throughout the pandemic.”
The amount of blue light our devices emit is too little to pose a serious risk, said Dr. David Ramsey, retinal specialist at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Massachusetts. Our eyes take in significantly more blue light outside than inside, even when it is cloudy. To get a feel for the scale, Dr. Ramsey suggests taking out one of your devices on a bright day. “How many of us have been to the beach with our laptops or cellphones and were impressed by how hard it is to read the screen?” he said.
The idea that blue-light glasses can protect the retina from damage is so unfounded that Boots Opticians in the UK were fined £ 40,000, or about $ 56,000, for making “misleading and unsubstantiated” claims on the subject.
A study of 5,000 eyes analyzed what happens when a blue light filter is added to a synthetic lens that is implanted in the eye after cataract surgery. The authors found no conclusive evidence that the filters were beneficial in any way. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation has stated explicitly that “there is not much evidence to support the wearing of blue-light safety glasses for everyday electronics use”.
If your eyes are strained, be sure to step away from the screen every now and then. “Long-term use of our computers can cause eye strain. It’s important to take breaks, ”said Dr. Ramsey. “It has little or nothing to do with blue light.”
As for sleep, exposure to blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, making people feel sleepy. This is why we tend to be awake when the sun is shining and feel more tired when it is going down. Limiting nighttime exposure to blue light could help maintain this dichotomy. But instead of putting on blue light glasses before bed, try putting your phone down an hour or two in advance. Finally, studies have shown that screen time can negatively affect sleep for a number of reasons.
Sleep experts also recommend exercising, not having dinner late, eating before bed, and restricting news and social media in the evening – good advice for everyone, especially nowadays. “Sleep hygiene is so important,” said Dr. Ramsey. “Our sleep behavior is just as important, if not more important, than our exposure to blue light.”