Instagram influencers are promoting blue light glasses that are supposed to minimize eye strain, but the science behind them is overhyped
Blue light blocking glasses can help you get to sleep, but that’s as far as the benefits go
Unlike what Diff Eyewear’s product descriptions suggest, blue light glasses won’t help with eye strain you experience during the daytime. The trendy spectacles could still potentially help you get to sleep faster, since blue light interferes with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.
During the day, there is no need for blue light-blocking products, since blue light can actually help with attention, reaction times, and mood, according to Harvard Health Publishing. But at night, when your body should be naturally slowing down, blue light-blocking frames can be of assistance.
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“If you’re looking at your screens late at night, there’s a lot of blue in there, and then your body doesn’t adequately produce melatonin,” Raj K. Maturi, a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, told The Atlantic.
In fact, a 2009 study in The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research found amber lenses blocked blue light and, in turn significantly, improved sleep in the study’s participants.
There is a rise in eye health deterioration and eye strain, but blue light isn’t to blame
In 2010, 2 million Americans had age-related macular degeneration, a condition that causes people to lose their central vision due to retina damage, in part from blue light. Although there has been a rise in macular degeneration, screens aren’t to blame. According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), an aging population is a major factor in the rise of macular degeneration. Additionally, blue light comes from sources other than screens, like the sun and energy-efficient lighting, according to Harvard Medical School.
There’s a rise in reports of eye strain too, with 59% of American adults saying they experience symptoms of eye strain (like dry eyes, headaches, and blurred vision), according to The Vision Council.
Read more: 6 things your eye doctor wishes you would stop doing
There isn’t, however, a direct relationship between eye strain or eye damage and how much time you spend looking at a digital screen. Rather, “eye strain is about the disparity between the things you want to look at and the natural focusing of your eyes, and how long you do it,” Adam Gordon, a clinical associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, told The Atlantic.
If you want to prevent eye strain, skip the blue light glasses and use tried-and-true solutions
Dr. Rahul Khurana, clinical spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmologists, says preventative measures and treatment for blue light are unnecessary until more research is done. “If we start jumping from the lab to making policy or to making recommendations, that’s something we have to be careful of,” Khurana told Business Insider in a previous interview.
Instead of shelling out for a pair of blue light specs, consider some research-approved ways to prevent and decrease eye strain, like blinking often, taking breaks from screen time, enlarging screen type sizes for easier reading, and using artificial tears if needed, suggests the Mayo Clinic.
Diff Eyewear did not immediately reply to INSIDER’s request for comment.
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