We, as a technology dependent population, usually spend most of our time staring at screens. The screens vary from our phones, computer, or television set. And if I can be true, for the majority of our day, we are glued to our screens.
Now, the other side of it, we don’t even think about. By other side, I mean the negative impact these prolonged screen hours have on our eyes and brain. These screens emit blue light and if I know anything about blue lights, then they are definitely affecting your sleep quality. It has a deep effect on our body’s natural circadian system.
Even though we know all of this, we cannot avoid using our laptops, PCs and mobile phones due to our dependency both for official and personal use.
The question then remains, how to avoid the harmful effects of blue light & how to protect your eyes from blue light ?
Well, this is where the blue light glasses come into play. These glasses claim to reduce the amount of blue light that enters our eyes, thus improving our sleep. So, today we will explore the science behind blue light blocking glasses and their potential benefits for sleep.
What is Blue Light?
We have to first understand what blue light actually is.
Found in natural light, the blue light is a visible light spectrum with high energy and with a short wavelength. It can be found in many artificial sources as well, the likes of which include electronic devices like smartphones, computers and televisions.
But the availability of blue light in natural sources does not mean that even basking under the sun is harmful. Blue light is important for regulating our body’s circadian system, or what we call in the layman language as internal clock. The circadian system allows us to stay awake during the day and sleep at night. Moreover, blue light boosts alertness, mood and cognitive function during the day.
But the problem comes when we are exposed to blue light in excess. And as we have already discussed, the blue light can disrupt this rhythm and interfere with our sleep. Can blue light really have a damaging effect on our eye?
Let’s understand this better.
Effects of Blue Light on Our Health
Let’s briefly understand the effects of blue light on our health:
- It can disrupt our circadian system, our natural sleep-wake cycle. Basically, blue light suppresses the production of melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for regulating our sleepiness and wakefulness. And if this system is tampered with, it gets harder for us to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. This in turn causes tiredness and being groggy during the day.
- Digital eye strain is another condition that is developed after prolonged exposure to the blue light without taking breaks. The condition can further cause symptoms like dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, neck and shoulder pain and eye fatigue.
- Retina converts light into nerve signals and blue light can damage the retina. Blue light can perforate deeper into our eyes than any other type of light. This can cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the retina. This further increases the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of vision loss among older adults.
There are some studies that have shown the effects of blue light on human eyes and health. I am mentioning them below:
- Harvard Medical School Study
A study conducted by researchers at Harvard Health Letter found that exposure to blue light suppresses melatonin production more than any other type of light.
- Sleep Medicine Reviews Study
A systematic review of the literature on the effects of light on sleep, published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews in 2017, found that exposure to blue light in the evening caused a delay in the timing of the circadian rhythm, which can lead to sleep disruption and other health problems.
How Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Work?
We now have the basic understanding of what blue light is and what are its effects on the human eye and brain. Now, let's get into the blue light blocking technology and to be specific we will now talk about the blue light blocking glasses (blue light link).
These glasses are designed to filter out or block blue light, and this in turn reduces the amount of blue light that enters our eyes. The lenses usually are yellow, amber, or orange and can be made from a variety of materials that include the likes of polycarbonate, acrylic or glass.
Understand the basic theory behind blue light glasses. The theory is that by reducing the amount of blue light that enters our eyes, we can minimise its disruptive effects on our sleep. Prolonged exposure to blue light can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle.
Now, by wearing these blue light blocking glasses we can reduce the suppression and allow our body to produce melatonin in a natural way.
Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Really Work?
You have to ask, and you should ask: Do blue light blocking glasses actually work?
Honestly, there has been a lot of debate between many experts, and there is some evidence that suggests that they can be effective in improving sleep quality.
One study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health: Blue blocker glasses as a countermeasure for alerting effects of evening light-emitting diode screen exposure in male teenagers found that wearing blue light blocking glasses for two hours before bedtime improved the quality of sleep in a group of adolescents.
Another study published in Chronobiology International: Evening wear of blue-blocking glasses for sleep and mood disorders: a systematic review found that participants who wore blue light blocking glasses for three hours before bedtime experienced an increase in melatonin production and improved sleep quality compared to those who didn't wear the glasses.
However, it's worth noting that not all studies have found a significant benefit to using blue light blocking glasses. The American Academy of Ophthalmology in, Are Blue Light-Blocking Glasses Worth It ? states that there's insufficient evidence to recommend blue light blocking glasses for improving sleep.
What are the Potential Benefits of Blue Light Blocking Glasses?
See, scientific evidence is mixed and debates and scientific evaluation are going on in the entire world to further know whether blue light glasses can help in reducing the effects of blue light. But, even so, there are some, if not many, benefits of using blue light blocking glasses, particularly for people who spend a lot of time in front of screens.
Some of the benefits are:
- Prevents eye strain, and computer vision syndrome.
- Symptoms of digital eye strain can be reduced, like dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches.
- May improve the circadian system, which is essential for overall health.
- May offer long-term eye protection and lower the risk of eye diseases.
- May help reduce age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts and other eye problems.
In conclusion, blue light can cause a variety of vision problems, including digital eye strain, sleep disruption, and macular degeneration. While it's impossible to completely avoid exposure to blue light, there are steps you can take to protect your eyes. These include using blue light-blocking lenses, taking breaks from electronic devices, and avoiding exposure to electronic devices before bedtime. By taking these steps, you can help reduce your risk of developing vision problems associated with blue light exposure.