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Blue-Light Glasses: Should I Buy Them?

“Computer glasses” are a booming category, thanks to increased screen time, but scientists say they don’t do much.

Blue-light glasses are fitted with lenses that filter out certain light waves that are emitted by the sun and, to a lesser extent, by digital devices like phones, laptops and tablets. Blue light is not inherently bad; it boosts attention and wakefulness during the day. But it suppresses the natural production of melatonin at night.

By limiting exposure to blue light by as little as 20 percent, companies say, a customer could sleep better, experience less eye strain and prevent potential retinal damage.

Scientists, however, are not convinced that the glasses are a worthy investment.

Digital eye strain is real, but it’s impossible to say with certainty that the culprit is blue light. “No one has established an independent causal association between blue light coming from the computer and visual symptoms,” Dr. Lawrenson said. He recommended going to an eye doctor for a checkup instead of rushing to buy nonprescription glasses.

Regardless, the blue-light category is booming. A quick Google search pulls up several brands that almost exclusively sell “computer glasses” (like Felix Gray, which raised more than $1.7 million in funding in 2020, bringing its total funding to $7.8 million as of September, according to PitchBook), as well as prescription-eyewear companies like Zenni (which sold two million pairs of its Blokz lenses in 2020, according to the company) and Jins (which noted an uptick in online orders last year). If you’ve shopped at Warby Parker recently, you were probably asked if you’d like a blue-light filter added to your lenses.

“As many customers started working from home last year, we have seen a significant rise in demand for these lenses,” Neil Blumenthal, a chief executive of Warby Parker, wrote in an email. “Last April, we saw a sizable increase specifically for nonprescription blue-light-filtering lenses and we’ve seen this trend continue throughout the pandemic.”

The amount of blue light that our devices emit is too small to be a serious risk, said Dr. David Ramsey, a retina specialist at the Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Massachusetts. Our eyes take in significantly more blue light outside than inside, even when it’s cloudy. To get a sense of scale, Dr. Ramsey suggested taking one of your devices out on a bright day. “How many of us have been on the beach with our laptop or our cellphone and been impressed just by how hard it is to read the screen?” he said.

If eye strain is your concern, consider stepping away from the screen now and then. “Using our computers for long periods of time may lead to eye strain. It’s important to take breaks,” Dr. Ramsey said. “That has little, if anything, to do with blue light.”

Category: Science

Source: New York Times

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