Blue Light Blocking Lenses for Work: Are They Worth It?

May 06, 2019

Woman wearing glasses.
Ben Eubanks

Do blue light glasses work, or are they just another fad? In our recent exploration of the health risks of computer use, we talked briefly about blue light filter benefits and why workers should consider them. However, let's take a deep dive into the science and physiology behind the discussion.

It seems like we find out every day that something essential to our functioning as adults also has the potential to harm us. Computers, tablets and cellphones are a major part of how we get work done every day, and it's important for us to use them properly and safely.

Artificial Light and the Human Eye

Our eyes are designed to allow light inside in order to be able to see: no light, no vision. This has worked well for us for pretty much all of history, but now we focus less on an ever-changing set of scenery and more on an unmoving screen right in front of us. This requires a different set of focal muscles in the eye, and long-term use without rest can lead to what experts call computer vision syndrome.

In Health.com, a doctor points out that it's very similar to doing a weightlifting squat without ever actually coming up and releasing the tension on your muscles; over time, your focal muscles will become increasingly fatigued, leading to headaches, blurred vision and tired, itchy eyes. One of the easiest ways to avoid this is to take fairly frequent breaks, looking away from the device, and focusing on objects a variety of distances away. This is a way to sort of "reset" your eyes and give them a break from the continued strain of staring at a screen.

Artificial light is another component of the equation. Our brains are hardwired to allow blue light into the eye, and some experts believe this may cause long-term damage. While there is no research yet to support these claims of damage to the eye, it's not something most people would gamble on. Blue light is a part of the spectrum of light given off by the sun and other sources, but research does show that it can affect our brains in other ways, as you'll see below.

Blue Light Filter Benefits

Blue light can be potentially harmful, but the good news is that blue light filtering glasses can help to prevent those issues. So how do blue light glasses work? They simply filter out the wavelength of blue light that is emitted by the devices we use on a daily basis.

The interesting thing to note is that research shows blue light adversely affects our sleep. Logically, it makes sense. Blue light is emitted by the sun, so when our brain processes blue light it seems like it's time to get up, even if you're watching that screen 10 minutes before you go to bed. Several research studies from the National Institute of Health, the Journal of Pineal Research, and the Journal of Adolescent Health show that blue light filter glasses can help individuals to get better sleep, a key driver of focus and productivity in the workplace.

Employers can offer blue light glasses to their workforce at a relatively inexpensive cost, and if this helps workers to reduce eye strain, get better sleep or even be more mindful of their eye health, it would be a worthwhile investment in better wellness outcomes.

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