Blue-Light Blockers Debunked; Opt for These Methods to Ease Eye Fatigue

Is your digital eyestrain destined to persist? Those stylish blue-light-blocking glasses flooding your social media feeds promise relief from tired eyes and sleepless nights. But it may be more of a fad than a fix, according to a growing body of research.

While whether the specialty lenses make any difference at all is up for discussion, several methods are proven to interrupt the constant focus and help reduce fatigue.

Claims Around Benefits of Blue-Light Filters Debunked

Blue-light-filtering lenses have surged in popularity as a solution to eyestrain and sleep disruption from excessive screen time. Though many devices now offer “night mode” to limit blue-light exposure, new research suggests there’s no evidence that this is necessary.

A review of 17 randomized trials by the University of Melbourne found little evidence that blue-light-blocking lenses provide short-term benefits for computer-related eyestrain over regular lenses. The trials ranged from just five to 156 participants.

“We found there may be no short-term advantages with using blue-light filtering spectacle lenses to reduce eye strain associated with computer use, compared to non-blue-light filtering lenses,” associate professor Laura Downie at the University of Melbourne and the senior author of the review, said in a press statement.

It’s unclear if the lenses affect vision quality or sleep. No conclusions could be made regarding their effect on longer-term retinal health, she added. “People should be aware of these findings when deciding whether to purchase these spectacle lenses.”

Blue-light blockers only filter 10 to 25 percent of blue light from screens, according to Sumeer Singh, a postdoctoral clinical research fellow at the University of Melbourne and first author of the study. The blue light from devices is a “thousandth of what we get from natural daylight,” he added.

The review didn’t identify harms beyond typical glasses discomfort.

What Early Research Says

Growing evidence suggests blue-light lenses don’t help as advertised. One 2020 study involving 24 subjects found little evidence that blue-blocking filters help dry eyes. The conclusion was that optimizing screen viewing conditions and managing other ocular factors may offer a more effective approach to reducing symptoms.

Other 2021 research involving 120 computer users showed blue-blocking lenses didn’t improve eyestrain symptoms versus clear lenses.

Excessive UV light raises cataract and macular degeneration risk. Excess nighttime light also disturbs sleep by suppressing melatonin, which can have adverse side effects, Dr. Daniel Laroche, president of Advanced Eyecare of New York and clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at New York Eye and Ear of Mount Sinai, told The Epoch Times.

“The benefits of UV-blocking lenses are well known,” Dr. Laroche said. But research on blue-light lenses is less robust, he added.

He said he wouldn’t call these types of glasses a gimmick, but more research is needed about their potential benefits.

Tips to Reduce Computer Eyestrain

The most common causes for computer eyestrain are prolonged screen time without breaks and using an incorrect eyeglass prescription, Dr. Laroche said.

Eyeglass Prescription

“It is very important to have the proper eyeglass prescription,” he added. A proper eyeglass prescription is typically issued by an eye care professional, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist, after a comprehensive eye examination.

Such exams include information about the lens power for correcting nearsightedness or farsightedness, the correction for astigmatism, the angle for astigmatism correction, the addition power for multifocal lenses, prism correction if needed, and the pupillary distance.

The 20-20-20 Rule

Dr. Laroche recommends the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes you look at a computer screen, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away.

“This helps to reduce the constant accommodation often used while reading and reduce strain,” Dr. Laroche said.

Computer glasses specified for the distance that you work also work very well to reduce eyestrain.

Customized Glasses

Computer glasses fitted for your screen distance also help.

“I use computer glasses myself at work measured at my arm’s length from my computer screen,” Dr. Laroche added. “I also have a large computer screen and take breaks to walk to reduce back and neck strain and sit with good posture.”

No Late-Night Work on the Computer

While the evidence is inconclusive, Dr. Laroche said late-night work with a bright computer may suppress melatonin and interfere with sleep.

So dim the computer light, stop all computer work, and turn off screens before bed for the best sleep.

Eye Drops

Extended screen time also causes dry eyes from reduced blinking. Dr. Laroche suggests using artificial tears three to four times per day.

“For people with more severe dry eye issues, preservative-free tear drops several times a day can assist,” he added.

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