People often express their worries about the adverse effects of blue light emitted from screens. These concerns are not baseless, especially in the age of technology, where smartphones, tablets, and PCs became readily available. Additionally, the use of digital screens is starting from a young age, which increases the risk of eye problems.
For this reason, blue light glasses are gaining a lot of traction, as they represent a way to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of screens.
What are blue light glasses?
Blue light glasses are equipped with special lenses that partially block short-wave blue light. The main reason you may need to wear blue light glasses is having visual problems (e.g., redness, itchiness, blurry vision) after prolonged use of digital devices. The glasses will serve as a filter that blocks the harmful blue waves.
Before we dig in any deeper, let us define blue light:
Blue light is a short-wave light relative to the spectrum of visible colors. Its wavelength ranges between 400 and 500 nanometers (nm). According to studies, blue light damage peaks when it reaches a wavelength of 440 nm.
Devices that emit blue light include:
- Desk computers
- TV screens
How can blue light glasses benefit your vision?
According to manufacturers of blue light glasses, these devices prevent light from damaging different structures of the eye.
The damage usually occurs in two ways:
- High doses of blue light for a short duration
- Low doses of blue light for a long duration
For instance, researchers demonstrated that short-wave light emitted from devices before bedtime may disrupt sleep patterns. As a result, people are more likely to develop unhealthy sleeping habits, such as insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and daytime sleepiness.
In a 2019 study, researchers found that using blue light glasses may improve sleep disorders in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Additionally, some studies suggest that using blue light glasses optimizes sleep quality and duration.
Blue light glasses also help the following conditions:
- Eye strain
- Melatonin secretion
Blue light glasses and headaches
Headaches after staring at digital screens are very common, especially with prolonged use.
There is still lacking evidence of the mechanisms involved in triggering these headaches. However, researchers believe they result from blue light toxicity to the eyes, which transform these signals to the cerebral cortex. The latter stimulates muscles around your neck and face to contract, leading to a tension headache.
Preventing these signals from reaching the brain or reducing their intensity can play a big role in improving your symptoms of headaches.
Additionally, you may benefit from blue light glasses if you have migraine, as it often presents with the classic photophobia (i.e., hypersensitivity to light).
Blue light glasses and eye strain
Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision issues after staring at digital screens for a prolonged time.
According to reports, the average American worker spends 7 hours a day on a computer (office hours + working from home). This should give you an idea about the insanely high incidence of eye strain after digital device use.
Along with eye strain, you may experience other symptoms that fall into a collection of presentations known as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain symptoms.
The most common symptoms in this category are:
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Neck and shoulder pain
While scientists are still unsure about the triggers of these symptoms, blue light toxicity tops the list of risk factors.
Unsurprisingly, this explains why people who wear blue light glasses experience less symptoms of eye strain.
Note that symptoms induced by uncorrected vision problems (e.g., myopia, astigmatism) do not improve with blue light glasses. These patients need glasses that correct the refractive errors of their lenses or corneas.
If you suspect that your eye strain is the result of refractive error, make sure to speak with your primary care physician or ophthalmologist before the symptoms become worse.
Blue light glasses and melatonin secretion
The circadian rhythm responds to an area of the brain referred to as the circadian pacemaker located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) – a collection of cells that belong to the hypothalamus.
At different times of the day, this group of cells sends various signals to the body in order to regulate sleep or wakefulness activities. By far, light is the most potent influencer of this system, as its presence triggers the production of melatonin.
In general, when light hits certain receptors inside the eye, the suprachiasmatic nucleus receives this signal and stimulate the brain to induce feelings of wakefulness.
As the light dims down, the secretion of melatonin ramps up. This hormone will exert its action on different parts of the brain, leading to a general feeling of drowsiness. As you probably guessed, this system can be subject to several abnormalities that eventually develop into full-blown sleep disorders (e.g., insomnia).
Fortunately, with the protection provided by blue light glasses, melatonin secretion is conserved, which prevents many circadian rhythm problems.
Moreover, studies found that people who suffer from sleep disorders report better sleep quality and duration after using blue light glasses.
Due to the small size of these studies, more research is necessary.
Blue light glasses are excellent devices that help people who often experience symptoms of digital device overuse. By reducing the toxicity of blue light, these glasses can save you a lot of trouble, especially if your work revolves around using digital devices.
Hopefully, this article managed to shed some light on the potential benefits of using blue light glasses. If you still have questions, concerns, or ideas that you want to share, please don’t hesitate to comment your thoughts.