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When to Start Using Blue Light Blocking Glasses (and Where to Buy a Pair)

When to Start Using Blue Light Blocking Glasses (and Where to Buy a Pair)

Michelle Wilson
Reading time: 9 minutes
So, you’ve found yourself staring at a computer screen mindlessly once again. Eight hours have already passed and you’ve barely managed to tear yourself away from your monitor. Or, maybe you’re attached to your phone and regularly spend your free time endlessly scrolling through social media.
We get it - it can be difficult to force your attention away from your work, your Instagram feed, a blog, or your favorite television show, especially when you’re completely immersed.
But if you’ve ever felt your eyes burning or rubbed your eyes unconsciously after staring at your computer, you know firsthand the side effects of gazing too long into the digital blue light abyss. You may already know that excessive screen time is not great for your eyes, but just how bad is it really?

Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves:

According to the Vision Council, 80% of American adults report using some form of digital device for over two hours a day and 57% said they used two or more devices concurrently. That could mean a dual-screen work set-up, a phone and laptop combo, or any other number of digital device pairings. 59% of those users also reported experiencing digital eye strain thanks to near-constant exposure to blue light.
Have you simply accepted the symptoms of digital eye strain as an inevitable part of your work life? Well, it turns out you don’t have to. Blue light blocking glasses may be the answer to providing your eyes with some relief so you can go back to hash tagging, working, and binging with abandon.
Here’s a few things you should know about blue light, the dangers it poses to your eyes, and how blue light glasses can be the solution to pain-free computing.

What is blue light exactly?

Human eyes can only perceive visible light which is just a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. You see this part of the spectrum in the form of the colors violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Blue light has the shortest wavelengths as well as the highest energy and it has both positive and negative implications for our emotions and mental and physical health.
Being outdoors in the daylight is how most people get their exposure to blue light. But your devices may inundate your eyes with blue light along with fluorescent lights, LED lights, smartphone screens, and flat-screen TVs.
The amount of blue light emitted from your digital devices is actually just a small fraction compared to that emitted by the sun. However, you generally don’t stare at the sun for extended periods of time. The problem stems from how long you fixate on your devices during the day because the human eye isn’t good at blocking blue light.
The cornea and the lens act as fairly good shields against UV light and help prevent those rays from getting to your delicate retinas. But almost all blue light slips right on through to the cornea and lens to reach your retina.

What symptoms of digital eye strain do adults report?

The Vision Council performed a study with Americans reporting the following symptoms of digital eye strain:
  • 32.4% eye strain
  • 27.2% dry eyes
  • 27.7% headaches
  • 27.9% blurred vision
  • 35% neck and shoulder pain
In addition, you’re more at risk for these kinds of symptoms if you use a computer for extended periods of time because your visual behavior differs when you look at a screen.

Other variables influencing eye strain

One major issue seen among users of computer screens is that they tend to blink less. When you’re out and about doing normal activities under the sun, you typically blink between 10 and 15 times per minute. But when you’re looking at a digital screen, that rate drops to less than half as often.
Sub-optimal viewing angles
When you look at a device, it’s not always at an optimized angle for you to properly see. For example, if you look at your phone to read articles before going to bed, you likely have the screen fairly close to your eyes to read the smaller print.
Glare is a big issue when it comes to digital eye strain. Glare causes your eyes to work harder to discern images and texts.
Contrast issues
And finally, if you browse websites or use devices that don’t deliver a distinct contrast between the text and background, that can also cause problems for your vision. This is because it forces your eyes to decipher the lines of text and in the process, they get overworked.
Imagine it this way, you wouldn’t run a marathon followed by an Ironman and then recover with a hundred-mile bike ride. You’d let your body rest and recuperate. The same rule applies to your eyes. They’re hard working muscles and if you put them through the wringer, you’ll eventually feel the effects.

Is there a difference in who blue light affects?

The effects of blue light are different depending on what age bracket you fall into. For children and young teens who are still developing, constant blue light can negatively affect developing eye health and vision.

Children are more susceptible

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children aged 18 months and younger avoid screens altogether and suggest very limited exposure otherwise for those under the age of 5. However, more than 70% of adults report that their children spend more than two hours a day on digital devices.
After screen time, adults reported their children experienced symptoms such as headaches, neck/shoulder pain, eye strain, dry eyes, irritated eyes, reduced attention span, poor behavior, and irritability.
However, even if you’re an adult, the negative effects of blue light are serious. In fact, blue light exposure might heighten your risk for macular degeneration. In turn, this could lead to permanent loss of vision.
Another particularly vulnerable population to blue light are those who’ve undergone cataract surgery. It’s important that intraocular lenses (iOLs) used to replace a patient’s cloudy lenses have some blue-light blocking capability according to research.

How do I know if I need blue light blocking computer glasses?

If you regularly experience symptoms of eye pain from your digital devices, you’re an ideal candidate for getting a pair of blue light blocking computer glasses.

Do blue light glasses really work?

You just have to look for the right ones that work for your computing setup and lifestyle. A good pair of blue light blocking computer glasses should reduce glare, increase the contrast of text on backgrounds, and generally optimize what you’re seeing in front of you.

Look for these specific features when you’re ready to shop for a pair:

Anti-reflective (AR) coating
These types of coatings help reduce the amount of glare you experience when you’re working on a computer. Glare is bad news for your eyes because it forces them to work significantly harder. It’s a main underlying cause of eye strain.
Color tints
Blue light glasses often have a strong yellow tint to them to help increase the contrast of your screen. They’re designed to help your eye muscles relax.
Not all blue light glasses are equal. Look for glasses that offer a one-year warranty so you can have some peace-of-mind about the quality of your pair.

Why blue light blocking glasses?

If you’re part of the 70% of US adults who reported eye strain due to digital devices, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. And that’s not just because they’ll help you during the day, they also have some major benefits when it comes to getting some shut-eye.
Blue light during the day helps keep you alert, especially if it’s from the sun. It can also help boost your mood and performance if you work in an office. But at night, excessive blue light may disrupt your circadian rhythm.

Better sleep by blocking blue light

As the day wanes and night falls, your body produces the hormone melatonin which makes you sleepy. But exposure to blue light reduces its effects and inhibits its production. What does this mean for you? Bad quality and quantity of sleep. So if you want a good night’s sleep or if you experience sleeping issues, donning a pair of blue light glasses while reading on a digital device before bedtime might help reduce the effect of the blue light.

What are other ways to reduce digital eye strain?

Besides picking up a pair of blue light filter glasses, there are also other options to reduce blue light and digital eye strain to get some relief from your symptoms.

20-20-20 rule

To give your eyes adequate rest during your work day, aim to follow the 20-20-20 rule. This means that every 20 minutes, you should look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
Why does this rule exist? Well, it takes about 20 seconds for your eyes to completely relax. In an ideal world, you should try to move around every twenty minutes as well, not just for your eye health but for the good of the rest of your body.

Ergonomically optimize your workstation for your vision

Monitor setup
You’ll need to find that sweet spot of not-too-close and not-too-far when you’re setting up your computer display. For most people, this means your monitor should be about an arm’s length away. Your eyes should also be looking 2-3 inches below the top of your monitor with the screen tilted slightly up to reduce glare.
Adjustable seat height
Adjusting your seat height is important to ensure that you’re sitting directly in front of your monitor. If you sit too low or too high, it can cause unnecessary work for your eye muscles.

Where can I find high-quality blue light glasses?

We’ve gathered a few high-quality blue light filter glasses companies you might want to check out when you’re ready to try a pair.
Felix Gray glasses feature a proprietary lens material that filters out blue light so you can work all day in total comfort. These glasses also boast an anti-reflecting (AR) coating to help eliminate glare and other unnecessary light feedback entering your eyes and causing headaches and blurred vision. Felix Gray frames are made from premium materials like Italian acetate so they’ll stand up to any job flawlessly.
Anrri makes stylish frames designed for all-day wear to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of blue light. These glasses help keep your eyes and vision safe from fluorescent lights, digital device lights, and LED lights. They’re constructed with a special blue light blocking polymer that’s integrated directly into the lens material.
MVMT, famous for their watches, has recently introduced a line of computer lenses to keep your eyes protected from the harsh effects of blue light. Their Everscroll glasses are made with clear, anti-reflective lenses to protect your eyes. They’re constructed bottom to top to help keep you comfortable even if you need to stare at a screen all day.
Irlen syndrome is a visual perceptual disorder that makes staring at a computer screen challenging. To determine if you have Irlen syndrome, you would need to be screened by a certified technician in order to target the exact color filters for your needs. While they screen out blue light, these specialized filters also screen out other shades that can affect how you react to computer and fluorescent lights.

Takeaways: take steps to protect your eyes from blue light

If you suffer from the symptoms of digital eye strain, it can put a serious dent in your productivity, making getting through your 9 to 5 that much more difficult. With up to 70 million workers at risk for developing computer vision syndrome, it’s a danger that won’t disappear for digital device users any time soon. However, if you invest in a quality pair of blue light glasses and make a few adjustments to your workspace, you might be surprised by how much better you feel.
Remember to take regular breaks from staring at your screen. And if your job involves staring at a computer for the majority of the day, try to avoid adding to that screen time with more blue light during your downtime.

About the Author

Michelle Wilson is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Michelle is a content creation specialist writing for a variety of industries, including tech trends and media news.

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