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Young woman wearing blue light glasses.

Seems everyone is talking about blue light filters and blocking lenses to stop it from harming our eyes. Let's back up a bit and give you some information to help put blue light and 'blockers' in perspective.

TL;DR: No time for the details right now? In short, although there is no scientific evidence to back the use of blue light glasses for eye health, the choice is yours. The lenses do no harm, they do reduce blue light entering the eye and we know that some people are more comfortable wearing them. If you'd like some, please just ask in store.

What is blue light?

Sunlight contains many types of coloured light (including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet), each with a different wavelength and energy level. Combined, this spectrum of coloured light rays creates what we call 'white light' (or sunlight).

Blue light is just one type of coloured within this light spectrum - generally defined as 'visible light'. This means that it has a short wavelength and high energy levels. Levels of blue light are emitted from a range of different light sources, the largest being the sun, which is where we get most of our exposure to it. However, there are also many man-made sources, and in recent years, blue light has gained notoriety because of its link to digital screens. Computers, tablets, smartphones and other digital screens all emit blue light. Although this is only a fraction of that emitted by the sun, however the amount of time people spend using these devices and the proximity of these screens to the eyes has caused some concern about potential long-term effects of blue light on eye health.

Did you know?

1 hour outside on an overcast day projects 30 times more blue light than 1 hour in front of a screen.

Will blue light damage your eyes?

Blue light has a short wavelength, which makes it very easy for it to penetrate the eyes. This means that almost all visible blue light rays can pass through the cornea and lens to the retina (the lining of the back of the eye). While there is little research to support this, some experts have suggested that too much exposure to blue light has the potential to damage the light-sensitive cells in the retina. 1

However, while it is true that digital screens do emit some blue light, research has found that the level of blue light exposure from screens is significantly lower than that from natural daylight — and neither levels approach eye safety limits.2 This means that the potential blue light damage caused from digital screens is likely to be very little, if any at all.

Will blue light filters and blocking lenses make a difference?

While blue light blocking glasses are effective at reducing the amount of blue light that enter the eyes, there is no current research to suggest that this can improve or protect the health of your eyes. Put simply, there is no scientifically-proven benefit of wearing blue light blocking glasses for your eye health despite the many claims that have been made about the benefits of Blue Light filters and blue light blocking lenses for men and women.

Many claims have been made about the benefits of Blue Light filters and blocking lenses. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) July 2019 Position Statement on Blue Light Blockers states

"No evidence exists to suggest that normal environmental exposure to blue light, including those from digital screen technology, causes damage to eyesight. Filtering out the blue light from screens is not necessary in general use."

Do blue light blocking glasses help with eye strain?

Some people may consider getting blue light glasses because of claims that they can help to reduce eye strain when using digital devices. However, there is not enough research evidence to suggest that blue light causes digital eye strain in the first place. When using digital screens, eye strain can occur for a number of reasons. If you spend too long concentrating and looking at a screen, then your eyes can become fatigued. Also, your eyes have to shift focus constantly while looking at screens, and sitting too close can strain your eye muscles as they try to focus on such a close image. If you wear glasses, glare reflected onto your digital screen or glasses lenses from surrounding light sources (such as bright office lights, or a nearby window) can also cause your eyes to squint and strain.

It's easy for these issues to be labelled as a result of blue light, however, it's more likely that these problems are simply caused by the overuse of digital devices, and not blue light itself. The majority of times, eye fatigue is due to digital eye strain, and blue light damage is rare, if it occurs at all.3

Here are a few suggestions to help you reduce eye strain

Regular screen breaks

Take regular breaks from your screen or device

20-20-20

Look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes

Drink & blink

Concentrating reduces blinking, so blink often and stay hydrated with lots of water

Night Time

Use the “night time” option on your devices and turn down the brightness level

Consult an Optometrist

Get a bulk-billed comprehensive Specsavers eye test

Other blue light FAQs

There is not enough research evidence to suggest that blue light absorbing devices (such as blue light lenses) are beneficial for reducing the risk or progression of retinal conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).1

Alongside this, many regulations have been put in place to limit the amount of blue light emitted by everyday objects. Due to these safety limits, the levels of blue light that are emitted from objects like light bulbs and digital screens are not high enough to cause retinal damage. This means that wearing blue light blocking glasses when using digital screens is not really necessary.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of sight loss in the over 50s. It is a degenerative eye condition which slowly degrades the macula causing the gradual loss of central vision. It is most common in people after the age of 50, and chances of developing the disease increase as you get older (although certain forms of the disease can also affect younger people).

Although there is no scientific evidence to support the use of blue light glasses for preventing macular degeneration, blue light blocking glasses do not do any harm. We recommend booking an appointment to see a Specsavers optometrist if you have concerns about macular degeneration, experience symptoms (e.g. straight lines appearing to be wavy or blurring of the central vision). Your Specsavers optometrist will also be able to give you information about our blue light glasses tints if you are still interested.

Headaches can happen for several reasons and are not always related to your eye health. There are of course conditions like "ocular migraines" and "computer eye strain" which can both cause headaches. It's important not to confuse ocular migraines (or retinal migraines) with generalised headaches behind the eye. Ocular migraines happen as a result of reduced blood flow to the eye, due to a sudden narrowing of the blood vessels, and usually occur in just one eye.

On the other hand, headaches behind the eyes are usually a symptom of traditional headache-type migraines, which can be caused by a few conditions and external stimuli. Sensitivity to bright light (also known as photophobia), some prescription medications or simply staring at digital screens for too long can all lead to migraines and headaches behind the eyes.

There is no scientific evidence to suggest blue light glasses can prevent headaches but we do know that blue light blocking glasses are not harmful and can often give users comfort. As such, we do have blue light glasses tints available and if you would like to try them, please book an appointment with your nearest Specsavers optometrist.

Myopia (also known as being near-sighted or short-sighted), is a very common cause of blurred vision, where far away objects appear out of focus.

There is a huge amount of research, both past and present into the causes of myopia. It is currently believed that hereditary factors are the most important. You are far more likely to develop myopia if one of your parents has it. However, the picture of who will or will not develop myopia is far from clear.

There is no evidence that blue light glasses can help prevent myopia. In fact, short sight is usually detected quite early in life during a comprehensive eye test, which will test your vision as well as examining your eye in detail. It may be that you need to wear glasses or contact lenses all the time, or just when you need them for clear distance vision like when you're driving or watching a film.

Although there is not a cure for myopia, the good news is that it can easily be corrected with the use of glasses or contact lenses with a minus lens power, like -3.00. This means the lens has a concave shape (curved inwards), which helps to improve your focus.

If at all in doubt, we would recommend booking an appointment to see a Specsavers optometrist.

Blue light filtering glasses lens options

Now you know the facts, if you wish to try blue light reading glasses, blue light computer glasses or general blue light prescription glasses for yourself, you can include a blue light treatment with our Ultraclear Superclean lens option for $70.

Our UltraClear SuperClean Blue lens treatment contains a special filter to reduce the amount of blue light passing through the lenses. They may have a slightly yellow appearance but this is not usually noticeable to the wearer.

References

  1. Downie, Laura., 'Blue-light filtering ophthalmic lenses: to prescribe or not to prescribe?', Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics: The journal of the college of optometrists, 37, 6. (2017). [online] Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/opo.12414 [accessed 07/08/2020]
  2. O'Hagan JB, Khazova M & Price LL. 'Low-energy light bulbs, computers, tablets and the blue light hazard'. Eye (London). 30. pp. 230–233. (2016).
  3. Khurana, Rahul, MD., 'Are Computer Glasses worth it?', American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2017). [online]. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/are-computer-glasses-worth-it [accessed 07/08/2020]