Blue light glasses promise to help with eye strain, headaches, dry eyes and even insomnia.
So what’s the truth behind this popular wellness trend, and should you invest in a pair?
Before you pony up the money, here are a few things you should know about blue light glasses.
Blue Light and Insomnia
Blue light is coming at us from all directions every single day. That’s because every source of visible light contains the entire spectrum from red to violet.
The biggest producer of blue light is the sun. This particular wavelength of light promotes alertness, memory and even boosts your mood.
Blue light also represses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that helps us fall asleep. Makes sense, right? When the sun is up you need to be awake and alert. At night your body needs to rest.
The problem is that in our modern world, we’re exposed to blue light long after the sun goes down. Laptops, phones, tablets, TV and even lightbulbs are all sources of blue light. So when you use them in the evening, you’re actually sending a message to your brain NOT to sleep.
That’s why it’s recommended that you stop using your devices a few hours before bedtime.
If you’re a troubled sleeper who just can’t seem to drop the tech, using a pair of blue light glasses could help you drift off easier once you get to bed.
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Does Blue Light Damage Your Eyes?
Besides insomnia, blue light has also been associated with eye strain, headaches, dry eyes and macular degeneration. So does it really harm your eyes?
The answer changes depending on your source. According to the Academy of Ophthalmology, there is no evidence that blue light from our screens causes any lasting damage to our eyes.
On the other hand, research compiled by The American Optometric Association suggests that blue light from computer screens may cause long term damage to your retina.
However, it’s important to note that many studies that confirmed retinal cell death after exposure to blue light were performed on rats and primates. They were also exposed to far higher amounts of blue light than what we get from our computer screens, leaving the supposed effects on humans open to debate.
Obviously, more studies need to be done before we’re sure what the long-term effects of blue light are on our eyes.
One thing that all eye experts agree on is that simply staring at your devices for too long CAN cause eye strain. This, however, has nothing to do with the blue light they emit.
The same strain could be caused by staring at anything, including a book.
Digital Overuse and Eye Strain
Blurry vision, dry eyes, headaches and neck pain are all common symptoms of prolonged computer, tablet and cell phone use. But according to eye doctors, it probably has nothing to do with blue light they emit.
Many people suffer from dry eyes because we often blink less when we are using digital devices.
And the blurry vision many people experience is more likely to be caused by straining the muscles in our eyes with prolonged screen time.
People who use blue light glasses claim to feel relief from all these symptoms. But doctors recommend taking other precautions to cut the strain on your eyes.
How To Avoid Eye Strain Without Blue Light Glasses
If you don’t want to invest in a pair of blue light glasses, there are other ways to reduce eye strain.
First and foremost, doctors suggest following the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes you should practice looking up from your device and start staring at something roughly 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
This exercise helps you break focus, which relaxes your eye muscles so you can avoid straining them.
Increasing the contrast on your computer and wetting your eyes with drops can also help you avoid fatigue.
Lastly, be sure that there is sufficient light in the room when using your devices.
Getting Your Z’s
While blue light glasses may indeed help you get a better night’s sleep, there are other measures you can take so that your digital devices don’t mess with your sleep patterns.
Powering down a few hours before bedtime is the most important, but for many digital junkies, that’s a no-go.
However, putting your devices on the nighttime setting is said to have a similar effect.
And remember, even light bulbs emit blue light. The good news is that you can actually buy LED bulbs with reduced blue light.
And if you think that getting a good 7 to 8 hours a night isn’t important, think again.
Sleep deficit is linked with many harmful effects, including weight gain, heart problems, anxiety and diabetes, to name a few.
So be a smart digital user and take note.
So What’s the Upshot When It Comes To Blue Light Glasses?
While there’s no scientific evidence that blue light causes eye strain or long-term damage, it has been proven to affect your sleep.
So if you’re a digital junkie that just can’t power down at night, it may be worth buying a pair.
And if you want to rock them when you’re on your devices during the day, no harm done.
Want to conduct your own experiment? Brands like Flex Grey and Peepers offer stylish frames that block blue light and come with an anti-glare coating. But there are also more basic models that you buy for around 10 dollars.
If you have prescription lenses, you can opt for a clip-on pair or have an anti-blue light coating put on your lenses.
Whatever style you opt for, blue light glasses won’t hurt your eyes. And who knows, you may become one of the many people that swear by them.
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