What Are Blue Light Glasses, and What Do They Do?

December 2, 2020 • Zachary Amos


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If you’re like most Americans, your screen time has probably gone up this year. With all of these screens around us all day, you might find that your eyes are more strained or you have trouble sleeping. Many websites and companies are pushing blue light glasses as a solution.

You’ve probably heard about these before, and if you haven’t, you likely will before long. The market for these glasses surged to $24 million in 2020, and experts expect it to reach $38 million by 2026. It seems like these things are everywhere, and their popularity shows no signs of waning.

So what exactly are they? Here’s a closer look at blue light glasses, what they do and if they deserve the hype.

The Problem With Blue Light

To understand why these glasses have become so popular, you need to know about blue light. Different colors have different wavelengths, and blue is low-wavelength but high energy. You get a lot of blue light from the sun, but screens and eco-friendly artificial light emit it too.

During the day, blue light is beneficial since it boosts your reaction times, attention and mood. At night, though, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm, making it harder to sleep. Some research suggests that it may lead to health problems like obesity and heart disease.

You’ll also hear a lot of people saying that blue light causes increased eye strain. That’s a lot of potential health issues, and since we look at screens so often, it can be concerning. Special glasses seem to offer a solution.

How Blue Light Glasses Work

Blue light glasses filter out these potentially harmful wavelengths through special lens treatment. They don’t get rid of all blue light since that would affect your vision, but they filter most of it. You can think of them as sunglasses, but only for blue wavelengths.

According to their manufacturers, when you wear these glasses, you won’t experience the harmful effects of blue light. You can look at screens without the worry of losing sleep or developing another health problem. Many of these glasses are also polarized, so they reduce glare, which helps you see better.

Many glasses companies now allow you to add blue light filters to virtually any pair of frames. The benefits certainly seem desirable, but will you actually notice a difference? Many scientists and eye doctors doubt that these glasses do everything they say they do.

Do These Glasses Actually Help?

Studies have found that these glasses improve sleep and productivity, especially for people who stay up late. With healthier sleep patterns, you could avoid related health problems too. When it comes to eye strain, though, the data is less convincing.

While prolonged screen time does cause eye strain, blue light doesn’t seem to be the culprit. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, how you use screens matters more than the screen’s light itself. The most effective way to combat eye strain is to change how you look at screens.

There’s little to no evidence that blue light damages your eyes. Most strain that comes from looking at screens is just temporary, too. So while blue light glasses may improve your sleep, claims about reducing eye strain or preventing eye damage are unfounded.

Although Potentially Helpful, Blue Light Glasses Won’t Solve Everything

If you have trouble sleeping and look at screens a lot, special glasses could help. If you’re worried about eye damage, though, you have little to worry about when it comes to screens. Adjusting how you use them will work better than buying new glasses, anyway.

As with many things in life, there’s no single product that will act as a cure-all for eye problems. Blue light glasses are a handy tool for people with sleep problems, but not much else beyond that.