July 05, 2021 3 min read
Sales of blue-light-blocking glasses have more than doubled since the beginning of the pandemic, according to recent polls. Remote work, online classes, and lockdowns have all meant more time in front of screens for many of us— and blue light glasses look like a good solution.
But are the extra costs worth it? Or are these glasses just a gimmick?
Health authorities and medical experts mostly claim that blue light glasses aren’t necessary; however, studies do show they’re helpful in some cases. Specifically, they could help you sleep better. Keep reading to find out more about these special kinds of spectacles.
Blue-light-blocking glasses are a special type of protective eyewear with filters in their lenses. These filters block or absorb blue light, which is a type of short, high-energy wave light that some researchers claim can damage the eyes and disrupt sleep.
Not to be confused with computer glasses — which are prescription glasses that may include anti-glare coating and multi-focal lenses — blue light glasses are specifically designed to reduce damage caused by blue light. You’ll notice these glasses often have a barely-there amber tint.
Distributors of blue light glasses claim their productsreduce eye strain, prevent eye disease,and even improve sleep.
But the American Academy of Ophthalmology disagrees with claims specifically pertaining to eye health, while the American Academy of Sleep Medicine supports their use for preventing insomnia. The disagreements around them are there because the evidence is very conflicting.
A systematic review of the literature on blue-light-blocking lenses from 2017, for example, concluded there was "a lack of high-quality evidence" to support the use of these glasses for reducing eye strain, protecting eye health, and improving sleep quality. But in defence of blue-light glasses, the review looked at only three studies, all of which were of limited quality.
Still, other studies that were carried out recently even seem to agree. One double-blind study published inWork compared blue light glasses to glasses without filters on eye strain and found no difference between the two.
But where sleep is concerned, there issome evidence they do work. A study that recruited 13 undergraduates with sleep complaints found that blue light glasses improved the quality of sleep in all of the participants. Which shouldn’t be surprising given that research has long ago found that blue light, be it artificial or natural, suppresses melatonin production.
Generally, yes. Especially if you’re planning to purchase them to improve sleep quality.
Being exposed to blue light from smartphones, computers, TVs, and LEDs several hours before bedtime can make it harder for you to fall asleep. The best way to prevent this is to avoid these triggers before bedtime. But when that’s not possible, blue light glasses can definitely help.
On the other hand, devices can be adjusted to reduce the amount of blue light they emit, i.e. set to night mode. Plus, there are blue light filters on the market for these devices as well as low blue-light bulbs, all of which are generally cheaper than blue light glasses.
At the end of the day, it boils down to personal preferences. Just like with other sleep solutions like lifestyle changes andsnoring mouthpieces, blue light glasses can be one of many useful tools in improving one’s sleep.
Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Really Work? National Public Radio website. February 21, 2021.https://www.npr.org/2021/02/21/969886124/do-blue-light-blocking-glasses-really-work
Lawrenson JG, Hull CC, Downie LE. The effect of blue-light blocking spectacle lenses on visual performance, macular health and the sleep-wake cycle: a systematic review of the literature.Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2017;37(6):644-654.doi:10.1111/opo.12406
Rosenfield M, Li RT, Kirsch NT. A double-blind test of blue-blocking filters on symptoms of digital eye strain.Work. 2020;65(2):343-348.doi:10.3233/WOR-203086
Perez Algorta G, Van Meter A, Dubicka B, Jones S, Youngstrom E, Lobban F. Blue blocking glasses worn at night in first year higher education students with sleep complaints: a feasibility study.Pilot Feasibility Stud. 2018;4:166. Published 2018 Nov 1.doi:10.1186/s40814-018-0360-y
Amber Glasses May Provide Insomnia Relief. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Accessed Jun 2021.https://foundation.aasm.org/amber-glasses-may-provide-insomnia-relief/
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