If you’ve ever felt like your eyes were dry and tired after a long day of staring at a computer screen – you’re not alone.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Digital screens emit blue light, which can have negative consequences on your peepers, including strain, dry or watery eyes and irritated eyes. Blue light is also known to sabotage your sleep schedule because it messes with your circadian rhythm (AKA your internal clock that tells you when it’s time to sleep or be awake).
Unfortunately, most of us can’t escape having to use computers, tablets and phones in our everyday life. So how do we handle the negative consequences of digital screens? (Besides suffer in silence as we continue to type and scroll away.)
Enter blue light blocking glasses as the latest wellness trend.
What are blue light glasses?
Blue light blocking glasses have specially crafted lenses that are said to block or filter out the blue light given off from digital screens. The lenses claim to protect your eyes from glare and can help reduce potential damage to your retina from prolonged exposure to blue light.
But are blue light glasses worth the hype?
It may surprise you, but many eye issues that are caused by digital screens aren’t due to blue light.
Ophthalmologist Rishi Singh, MD says many people experience eye discomfort from digital screens, but most of the issues actually fall under a term called computer vision syndrome (CVS). (It’s sometimes also referred to as digital eye strain.)
CVS is a broad range of eye strain and discomfort issues. Your eyes are constantly shifting focus and moving while looking at the screen. Plus the glare and contrast can be tough on your eyes. So although you may be experiencing eye irritation from a long day working on your computer, your eye discomfort is not directly from the blue light itself.
“When we stare at a digital screen or device for too long, we’re not blinking very often, which causes the cornea to become dry and irritated,” says Dr. Singh. “When we focus our eyes on something close up, like a screen or even a book, our eyes are strained and contracted, which can cause eye discomfort. But if you look ahead to a distant object, our eyes relax.”
So instead of running out to purchase blue light blocking glasses, Dr. Singh suggest trying these tips for your screen time instead:
- Practice the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. (This will help your eyes relax.)
- Use eye drops throughout the day to help keep your eyes lubricated while you work at a computer.
- Sit an arm’s length (about 25 inches) away from your screen. Most people sit too close to the computer and experience eye strain.
“Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of research done with blue light blocking glasses,” explains Dr. Singh. “And of those studies that have been done, they’ve been too small and it’s not the same thing we’d see in clinical practice.”
Your best bet is to save your money and practice good screen habits throughout the day instead. But blue light has been shown to affect sleep, so make it a habit to turn off all digital devices at least one hour before bed.