Blue Light Glasses: What Is Blue Light, and Does this Eyewear Trend Really Work?
You may have heard about blue light blocking glasses, the newest trend in eyewear.
These glasses are sold with or without prescription lenses and are intended to soften harsh blue light that can cause eye strain, lack of sleep, and other issues with prolonged exposure.
But what is blue light? Is it as harmful as people say it is, and if so, what effect do these so-called “blue light glasses” have on your eye health and overall wellbeing?
So, What Is Blue Light?
As it turns out, blue light is a natural part of the spectrum of light that we see on a daily basis.
Let’s take sunlight for example. Although our eyes aren’t sophisticated enough to see much beyond “bright light” when we look at the sun, there is an entire spectrum of light projected in the sun’s rays.
Without getting too technical, this light spectrum runs from low-energy, highly visible colors like reds, oranges, and yellows to high-energy, less visible colors like blue and violet (hence, dangerous, invisible light being called “ultraviolet” or “UV”).
To be clear, blue light isn’t harmful in the same way that UV light is. However, the human eye has structures in place to protect itself from UV light, but not from blue light. Simply put, our eyes are more affected by blue light.
But What Does Blue Light Actually Do?
Blue light has its positives and negatives.
On the helpful side:
- Blue light keeps us alert
- High-energy visible light rays (blue and violet) help regulate sleep cycles
- Blue light can positively affect mood and brain function
But there are two angles to every story, and blue light is no exception. The negatives include:
- Eye strain when exposed to blue light for too long
- Disruptions to the body’s wake and sleep cycle
- Potential increase in risk for eye diseases like macular degeneration
The Difference Between Good and Bad Blue Light Exposure
If blue light can be good for you in some cases, but bad for you in others, how can you tell when to limit exposure?
Most people don’t need to worry about protecting themselves from natural blue light exposure from the sun, because if you’re wearing sunglasses, you’re already doing this.
The above video from NBC Channel 2 helps to explain how the same light that helps regulate your sleep cycles can be hurting you when you’re looking at screens before bedtime. As the sun goes down, your body naturally begins to expect lower blue light exposure. So, when you’re watching TV, working at your computer, reading on a tablet, or just browsing social media on your phone, you’re exposing yourself to more blue light than your eyes are prepared for.
This type of exposure — in addition to blue light exposure from a computer screen for hours at work — is the type that can cause eye strain, lack of sleep, dry eye, and risk for age-related macular degeneration and other serious eye diseases.
Introducing Blue Light Eyewear
Blue light blocking glasses, or just “blue light glasses,” are lenses specially made to block this high-energy spectrum of visible light without darkening or obscuring the wearer’s field of vision.
In the above video, three Southwest Florida residents tried out blue light glasses and two of them reported that they slept better than they did when they hadn’t used them. Eye Centers of Florida’s own Dr. Eric J. Eiselman explains that it’s best to wear them after the sun goes down, to protect against the harmful effects of artificial blue light, while still getting the benefits of natural blue light.
For long term screen exposure during the day, however, Dr. Eiselman recommends something more customized, like computer glasses.
Speak to Your Eye Doctor About Blue Light Glasses
If you’re suffering from low-quality sleep, frequent headaches, dry eyes, or digital eye strain, the solution may be a simple lifestyle change, but there’s a definite chance that eyewear for blue light exposure may help these symptoms.
The best way to find the solution that works for you is to come into Eye Centers of Florida for an exam and talk to our eye doctors about your unique eye protection needs. Click below to request an appointment!