More people turning to ‘blue light glasses’ - but do they work?

Published: Feb. 17, 2020 at 10:42 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - You may be among the growing number of people who are buying into a growing trend around the United States: blue light glasses.

They’re the glasses that are supposed to block certain light rays that may be causing you eye problems. But are they really necessary? And do they really work? I talked to a noted local optometrist to get some answers for you.

Ask yourself - how many hours do you spend on your computer each day? There’s a lot of light that comes off that screen. Dr. Andrea Neff, owner and optometrist at In Focus Eyecare in Fort Mill, had some feedback.

“And the question is, or the problem is, that we are exposed to so much blue light, and we’re not sure if it actually damages the retina," Neff said. "So we’ve become... we’ve decided to use these blue light blockers to wear them at the computer so that we can decrease the scatter of noise, which is what blue light creates, to make the contrast easier and allow us to decrease our digital eye strain.”

According to one source, the typical office worker spends 1,700 hours a year in front of a computer screen. And after work, who knows how many hours are spent on phones, tablets, computers and TVs, all of which give off blue light. That can lead to eye strain, blurry vision, dry eyes, headaches, trouble sleeping and possible retina damage.

Blue light glasses are supposed to block or absorb blue light. Do they prevent eye disease?

The answer is: we really don’t know.

According to Dr. Neff, “There is a potential to cause retinal disease down the road. Now we don’t know, because we haven’t studied it for very long. We haven’t had digital devices. So we don’t know what the problem will be 30 to 40 years.”

Even though we don’t quite know all the facts, Dr. Neff says more and more patients are asking about blue light glasses.

“200 million people complain about digital eye strain in the workforce, so they like it," Neff says. "They like to wear them. They’re buying into it. They feel reduced strain at the computer, less dryness, less redness. So why not?”

The American Academy of Ophthalmology says there’s no evidence that blue light given off by screens will cause eye damage. And consider this - we’re exposed to blue light all day from the sun. In fact, we get 10 times as much blue light from the sun as we do from a computer screen.

So the bottom line is that blue light-blocking glasses won’t hurt you, so there’s really no harm in using them if you’re of the mind to do so.

The cost can be anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars. It’s recommended you check with your eye doctor first.

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