Once you've heard about blue light blocking glasses, you will see them everywhere.
You've spent hours each day sitting in front of a computer when you see an ad. Then you see them in stores. I recently saw them while buying new glasses. They were also featured in last week's post about freelancer gifts. But what is blue light, and do you need blue light blocking glasses?
The rumor is blue light damages your eyes and disrupts sleep. As an entrepreneur who wants your best work, sleep, and vision, should you be worried about it?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology doesn't recommend any special eye wear for computer use.
What is blue light?
It isn't a technical term; it's light that is blue. Different wavelengths of light have different effects, like colors. Blue wavelengths are partially responsible for mood and alertness, especially when it comes to circadian rhythms- the sleep/wake cycle that typically lasts 24 1/4 hours.
We naturally experience blue light in sunlight- in much higher intensities than your computer and phone screens. The blue light in sunlight has historically signaled us to wake up and do daytime activities.
Does blue light affect my sleep?
Getting too much blue light before bed can throw off your sleep cycle and cause you to stay up later than you expected. With our careers needing many sources of artificial light, work performance from light-induced sleeplessness is an important issue.
Read more: You Need More Sleep. 5 Tips to Get It
Developing research suggests using blue light filtering glasses, warm-toned or smart lights, and device apps like Flux, night mode (iOS), night light (Pixel), or Twilight (Android) in the hour or so before bed may help you rest better when it's time to sleep.
There's no evidence that blue light causes irreversible damage
Blue light vs UV light
Hours we're not trying to sleep or would see sunlight, blue light probably doesn't affect us much. Light radiation from computer screens has not been demonstrated to cause any eye disease. American Academy of Ophthalmology
While we need to be careful with sunlight, computer monitors do not emit any UV rays, which damage eyes and skin (ultra-violet light has a higher frequency than violet and is invisible). Brazilian Society of Dermatology
So, according to current research, blue light glasses are not likely to prevent irreversible eye damage.
With that said, staring at screens for long periods of time can cause eye strain or dry eyes, but these are a result of body positioning, focus, and forgetting to blink, not blue wavelengths of light.
You can have eye strain symptoms from reading a textbook for several hours with limited breaks, but you're more likely to stare at a computer screen. “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,” says Adam Gordon, a clinical associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. The Bogus Science Behind Instagram’s New Glasses Trend
5 tips for protecting your vision and sleep:
- Blink normally when using your computer. When was the last time you blinked, and why do your eyes feel so dry?
- The 20-20-20 rule- every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Sit (or stand!) an arm's length from your computer screen
- Minimize blue light 1 hour before bed by using filtering apps (flux), smart lights, blue light blocking glasses, or turning off devices.
- Wear UV blocking lenses when outside. Don't look at the sun, even if your contacts or glasses have UV protection.