Many experts tell us that when it comes to managing our health, including our body weights and moods, we should be careful not to underestimate the power of sleep. One reason why so many adults and children today are thought to be living in a sleep deprived state is because of high exposure to electronic devices that emit blue light. Because blue light is capable of disrupting our circadian rhythms, or “internal clocks,” blue light glasses are now recommended to improve sleep quality and other concerns.
What are the benefits of blue light glasses? While more research on the topic is warranted, there’s some evidence that blue light blocking glasses can positively impact your metabolism, focus, appetite control and more.
Read on to find out how to choose the best blue light blocking glasses for your needs, plus tips regarding when and how long to wear them.
What Are Blue Light Glasses?
Blue light glasses are a special type of eyewear that can block or filter blue light that is emitted from digital screens and electronics.
If you regularly deal with issues like eye strain, blurry vision, headaches and trouble sleeping — which you believe may be tied to your use of electronics — then wearing blue light filtering glasses can be a worth a shot.
What is blue light that glasses block?
Blue light is a type of high-energy light that is bright and has a short wavelength. These are wavelengths of light between 420 and 480 nanometers on the visible light spectrum. While it mostly has a bad reputation, blue light also has some benefits, such as making us feel alert and awake.
Most of our exposure comes from sunlight, but electronics also contribute to the amount of blue light that reaches our eyes on a daily basis. Electronics that give off blue light include televisions, smartphones, laptops, computer monitors and tablets, which many teens and adults now report spending multiple hours using every single day.
How do blue light glasses work?
These glasses are most often used at night to help block blue light emitted from LED devices from reaching the eyes.
Studies have found that blue light exposure can suppress natural production of the hormone melatonin, which has sleep-inducing effects. Therefore it’s thought that too much exposure at night can keep you up and disturb your natural sleep-wake cycle.
Wearing blue light filtering glasses is therefore a way to prevent sleep dysfunction and possibly to protect the eyes in other ways.
Do They Work? Potential Benefits
Do blue light glasses really work? Opinions regarding their effectiveness and findings from studies conducted thus far have been mixed overall.
Research focused on the effects of blue light glasses is largely still underway. One reason it’s difficult to determine how well they work for the majority of people is because their use isn’t tightly regulated, since authorities such as the Food and Drug Administration in the United States do not consider these glasses to be medical devices.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Association of Optometrists in the U.K currently don’t recommend the use of blue light glasses for the general public, although they haven’t stated that they are dangerous or should be avoided.
Their stance is that there isn’t enough high-quality research showing that they work, plus that symptoms like eye strain and headaches may actually be due to issues like squinting while using electronics and poor posture, not blue light exposure.
That said, some experts and many people do report experiencing benefits from blue light blocking glasses. Potential benefits may include:
- Reduced eyes strain, dry eyes and blurriness
- Reduced headaches
- Improved sleep habits and decreased insomnia, especially having an easier time falling asleep
- Enhanced vision (including less blur)
- Possibly increased protection against development of certain eye diseases, although this is still being studied — it’s currently thought that blue light from devices do NOT damage the retinas or contribute to long-term vision loss, macular degeneration or glaucoma
If blue light filter glasses are capable of helping you sleep better, then there’s reason to believe that their benefits can be far-reaching.
Sleep deprivation can make it more likely that you’ll develop a range of serious health issues, such as obesity, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes and others. Therefore getting more sleep can be highly protective and important for improving overall quality of life.
What to Look for in Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Filters that block blue light can be added to prescription glasses at a relatively low cost, typically under $100. You can purchase non-prescription blue light glasses for around $30 to $100 as well, although more expensive brands are also available.
If you’re concerned about also blocking UV light, look for glasses that have a filter providing 100% protection from UV light.
When to Wear Them
How do you know if you need blue light glasses?
If you regularly use electronic LED devices at night, particularly once the sun is down, you may benefit from trying them. However, if you don’t want to invest in these glasses and are skeptical about their effects, experts suggest simply decreasing your evening screen time and/or setting all of your devices to “night mode,” which helps automatically result in less blue light exposure.
Is it OK to wear blue light blocking glasses all the time?
This may not be necessary, but it shouldn’t be harmful either. Some people find that wearing the glasses while they work helps their eyes feel better and allows them to work longer more comfortably.
If you spent a couple of hours on electronics daily, especially during the daytime when you’d be getting blue light exposure anyway from the sun if you were outdoors, it’s probably not a problem to skip the glasses. Some blue light exposure during the day, particularly from natural sunlight, is even beneficial for regulating your circadian rhythm, so don’t be worried about a normal level of exposure.
Overall, the best time to wear blue light glasses is at night, during the hours leading up to bedtime when your body is producing more melatonin. But if your eyes feel less strained when you wear them during the day too, then experts say this is fine to continue doing.
Risks and Side Effects
Blue light glasses may be capable of taking stress off of your eyes and helping you sleep better at night, but they aren’t the only way to take care of your vision of circadian rhythm.
Here are other steps to take if you wish to sleep better and avoid eye strain, headaches and other issues:
- Get sunlight exposure during the day by going outdoors. Just be careful about too much UV-A and UV-B light reaching your eyes, which may be damaging — therefore consider wearing sunglasses if you spend lots of time in the sun.
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine, especially close to bedtime.
- Exercise regularly, which can improve sleep quality.
- Develop a relaxing nighttime routine that helps you cope with stress and unwind. Ideally this routine shouldn’t involve electronics — instead try reading a book, stretching or taking a warm bath. If you do use electronics at night, switch them to night mode.
- Keep the temperature in your room low, and wear clothes that don’t make you too hot.
- Limit the amount of hours you spend on electronics if possible. Invest in a good ergonomic chair to support your posture, and make sure your screens are at the right height so you’re avoiding forward head posture. Ideally have your eyes be about 25 inches from the screen and looking just slightly down.
- When working on a computer or device, take a break every 20 minutes and look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- What is the benefit of blue light blocking glasses? They help filter/block bright blue light that is emitted from electronic devices.
- Too much blue light can contribute to issues like sleep dysfunction and possibly eye strain and headaches.
- What are the best blue light glasses? It depends on why you’re wearing them. If you have severe symptoms or are recovering from eye surgery, you may need a prescription and should speak with a doctor. Otherwise you can purchase them at drug stores or online.
- Research focused on the effects blue light filtering glasses is overall lacking, and opinions differ about whether or not they are necessary. However, some people find they reduce symptoms like eye strain, dry eyes, blurriness, tension headaches and trouble falling asleep — especially among people using electronics for many hours daily and at night.