Whether you’re in the working world, a college student or a Netflix binge-watcher, our eyes constantly soak in artificial blue light from electronic devices. Even more so as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the world and people shifted to working from home or online school. Recently, the only ways to connect and communicate have been through our screens, and the consumption of blue light has escalated even higher.
Amidst the hectic transition from in-person classes to online instruction, six out of my nine college roommates urgently ordered blue light glasses in the mail. They told me the lenses protect your eyes from screen damage and help you sleep. Interested and concerned for my own eye health, I ordered a pair from Quay Australia for their cheapest option at 55 bucks. I figured the expense was worth the benefits. Were they worth it or a waste of money?
First, Are You Falling into the Marketing Trap?
In the rapidly-growing digital age, technology’s impact on human life is a common concern. With multiple devices and information at our fingertips, there is underlying anxiety over the digital world’s grasp on human beings’ mental wellness, physical health and emotional capacity. Companies utilize this anxiety and concern for marketing strategies, claiming certain products will combat the negative effects of our digital lives.
Blue light glasses are bait for this trap, trending across social media, influential wellness blogs and popular eyewear brands, such as Warby Parker and Felix Gray. Bloggers and companies claim this trendy (and expensive) new eyewear can reduce eye strain, headaches and sleep issues. However, this isn’t necessarily true. Buyers must be aware of these dubious health claims before falling into the recurring marketing trap.
But, What IS Blue Light?
Blue light is a frequency. Although blue frequencies are associated with screens, the largest source is sunlight. Blue light affects the body’s circadian rhythm, our natural wake and sleep cycle, by blocking melatonin production. While it’s essential during the day, too much exposure at night can make it difficult to fall asleep. Therefore, blue light glasses are beneficial when looking at your screens at night. Other than that, their effectiveness is not proven.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there is no scientific evidence that blue light from digital devices causes damage to your eye, and the Academy does not recommend blue light glasses or any special eyewear for computer use. Instead, they say the best way to prevent digital eye strain is to take regular breaks using the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
So, Worth It or Waste of Money?
Gina Tomaine, award-winning writer and Health and Wellness Editor of Philadelphia Magazine, wore blue light glasses for a week and documented her experience in a Good Housekeeping article. The glasses made her aware of how often she was looking at a screen, incentivizing her to dial back with other small fixes, like setting her iPhone on “Night Shift” and picking up a book instead of watching Netflix before bed. Tomaine recommends blue light glasses, stating that her eyes felt more rested and her sleeping patterns improved after only a week of wearing them.
Similar to Tomaine’s experience, after a few weeks of wearing my stylish new eyewear, I noticed I actually was sleeping better. I even weaned off my nightly dosage of melatonin.
So, are blue light glasses worth it? The scientific answer is No. For me, the pricey pair did serve a purpose by helping my body fall asleep. For others, they function as an awareness tool. As long as you dodge the marketing trap, question faulty health claims and understand what blue light is, investing in these glasses may be worth it.
About Our LifeToGo Expert
Jacqueline Reynolds is a senior journalism major at the University of Georgia with a certificate in Interdisciplinary Writing. She attended the Juniper Institute for Young Writers in 2016 and the Aspen Summer Words writers conference in 2020. Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, Jacqueline currently lives in Athens, Georgia where she is a staff editor for Stillpoint Literary Magazine and a contributor on the opinion desk for The Red and Black. Curious, conscious and creative, Jacqueline is an adventurer and a storyteller.