Pandemic Screen Time: Will Blue Light Glasses Help?

Blue light glasses on a laptop.
Computer screens are the main cause of eye fatigue, although long-distance driving, writing, and reading are other common culprits. (Image: Stereo Lights via Dreamstime)

The blue light glasses industry has witnessed a boom during the pandemic time. As we all took our office work home and Netflix and other over-the-top (OTT) platforms were the only means of entertainment indoors, the demand for these glasses was on the rise. Reduced eyestrain and protection from the adverse effects of blue light are some of the arguable advantages of these glasses. Although many office workers and gamers have turned to blue light glasses much before the pandemic hit, the lockdown reiterated the need for such glasses for people who spend a considerable portion of the day in front of their laptops.

Zenni, the optical company revealed that the sale of their blue-light-blocking product Blokz has increased by 60 percent according to data taken from the last two years. The product sold 2 million pairs in 2020 alone. Similarly, The Book Club eyewear said that the sale of its blue light glasses shot through the roof during March and April 2020. There was an increase of 116 percent as compared to sales at the same time in 2019.

According to reports, the blue light eyewear global market is going to have a net worth of US$28 million by 2024, which is an increase of US$9 million from the current year. Companies claim various benefits such as blue light glasses, including reduced eye strain, prevention of eye disease, and improved sleep.

But in the absence of any factual evidence, we must ask if these glasses deliver what they promise. Let us take a better look into it to decide!

Blue light from an electronic device can damage your eyes. (Image: Toa555 via Dreamstime)

Hear from the specialists

The American Academy of Ophthalmology reveals that these glasses do not have much utility and therefore, you do not need them. Saying that the blue light from computer screens and mobile devices is not as harmful as it does not cause eye strain or eye disease. However, the problems arise from the overuse of digital devices, according to specialists.

“The best scientific evidence currently available does not support the use of blue-blocking spectacle lenses in the general population to improve visual performance, alleviate the symptoms of eye fatigue or visual discomfort, improve sleep quality or conserve macula health,” the United Kingdom College of Optometrists says.

However, on the contrary, certain eye specialists certify the benefits of these blue light glasses. Stating the benefits of the blue light glasses, Greg Rogers, a senior optician at Eyeworks in Decatur says that he has seen blue light glasses work for a lot of customers. The staff recommends blue light glasses for people who spend more than 6 hours in front of a laptop computer or similar electronic device.

Representing the Optical Industry, The Vision Council concludes that individuals should do their research when it comes to picking the right solution for themselves and their families. A better and more effective option would be seeing a specialist to understand what suits your condition the best and not just settle for popular brands or products.

Blue light glasses are recommended for people who spend more than 6 hours in front of a laptop computer or similar electronic device.
Blue light glasses are recommended for people who spend more than 6 hours in front of a laptop computer or similar electronic device. (Image: Alina Rosanova via Dreamstime)

Blue light is all over

Even before we resorted to using digital devices for work and entertainment a little too much, we were exposed to plenty of blue light. Most of the blue light comes from the sun. But since blue light from computers and PCs is shorter in wavelength, it is more harmful to the eyes. According to the study published by Vision Direct, screen time during the pandemic increased anywhere between 16 to 34 minutes during the pandemic. But specialists say that the research is insufficient to prove if blue light glasses help to reduce eye strain.

Susan Primo, OD, an optometrist and professor of ophthalmology at Emory University, says: “If you want to wear them and find some benefits, that’s fine.” But she is very clear in expressing her concerns about misleading advertisements for these glasses.

“Marketing can take things to a level that might not be a sound recommendation, sound science, for people to go out and get them,” she mentions.

Should you invest in blue light lenses?

Feedback received from customers who have used blue light glasses has shown they are in favor of these products. While some reveal that these glasses improve their sleep and allow them to work longer, others mention that these glasses have reduced the frequency of their headaches.

All in all, how these glasses work for you is up to you to figure out. 

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