Blue Light Blocking Glasses – Everything You Should Know
The two main sources of visible or white light are the sun and artificial sources. Although there are various similarities between these two visible light sources, it was always believed that sunlight is more harmful than artificial light.
The reason for this was the fact that sunlight also contains invisible light rays like UV light that can be bad for our health. Is there a person who doesn’t know about UV light and how it can burn our skin? Neither do I.
However, recently, researchers have also become interested in visible light spectrum and found some proof that one part of visible light spectrum can also be harmful for our health, and that is the blue light exposure during the night.
It all started with finding that nurses who were exposed to artificial light during night shifts in a hospital had higher incidence of breast cancer than those who weren’t. It was not easy getting to this conclusion because there were not so many researches and findings about visible light spectrum and its effect on human’s health.
Today, there are many new findings about blue light exposure. Although, there are so many things that are still not known and we need to find out about blue light exposure, exposure to this part of visible light spectrum is becoming one of the main health concerns in public.
With new findings, researchers found various new ways to protect ourselves from blue light exposure in the night. However, one of the first discoveries that is still popular among people are blue light blocking glasses. Moreover, even with new discoveries, their popularity is rising.
That is why today I’m going to talk about blue light blocking glasses. Do you need blue light blocking glasses? Are they effective? Should you wear them the whole day or just during night time? Do they also protect us from digital eye strain? I’m going to answer to all of these questions. If you want to find out more about this topic, please read on.
What are blue light blocking glasses?
Blue light blocking glasses are the type of glasses that are intended to block blue light from your eyes. Although the main sources of blue light are sun and artificial sources, blue light blocking glasses should be weared during night time, once the sun starts to set. It is also advised to wear them while working on a computer during you work time since it is also believed that they are protecting from digital eye strain and macular degeneration.
So, the main purpose of blue light blocking glasses should be blocking of artificial blue light sources and not the blue lights that are emitted from the sun.
Why should you block blue light from artificial sources and not from sun?
Not all of the blue light is harmful, especially the one that comes from the sun. Blue light has an important role in control and maintenance of circadian rhythm, our bodies normal cycle of wake and sleep.
During the day, the sun’s blue light rays signal our brain that we should be awake. This is achieved by stimulation of hormones like cortisol and ghrelin which make us awake and hungry. Moreover, blue light also raises alertness, memory and cognitive function, mood etc.
In ideal situation, the absence of blue light in the night will rise the secretion of melatonin, the main hormone of sleep, and inform our body that we should rest.
However, with the existence of artificial lighting and various other sources of blue light like smartphones, tablets, computers, e-readers, the excessive exposure to blue light during night time will change our circadian rhythm, causing short-term sleep disorder that can cause other health problems long term.
In recent years, various studies associated blue light exposure to different health problems such as obesity, diabetes, malignancies etc. Unfortunately, it is still not entirely known how they cause these health problems but there are various ways to prevent the exposure and one of better ways are blue light blocking glasses.
How does blue light affects our eyes?
Most people spend majority of their time staring at screens, whether it’s the computer at work, smartphones and tablets or watching TV. Because all these devices have screens made of LEDs or light emitting diodes, they are also the source of blue light rays. The amount of blue light emitted from these devices is much smaller than from the sun. However, the amount of time that we spend looking at them and the proximity of these devices from our eyes are harmful.
Digital eye strain is a term that is used to describe the conditions resulting from excessive usage of electronic devices. Another term that is also used for this condition is the computer vision syndrome. This health condition can include various symptoms like dry and irritated eyes, blurry vision, focusing problems, headaches, neck and back pain etc.
Digital eye strain is primarily caused by excessive looking at bright screens, but blue light is also the contributing factor. Because blue light rays have short wavelength and hIgh energy, they scatter more easily and are harder to focus. Blue light emitted from screens that you’re looking will reduce contrast and contribute to digital eye strain.
Artificial blue light exposure can also affects our vision in other ways. There are some evidences that blue light rays are affecting our retina over time, causing vision damage. One of potential explanations for this is the fact that our eye is naturally not good at blocking blue light rays in comparison to, for example, UV radiation. .
There are some laboratory studies that have found out that blue light can damage light sensitive cells in the retina and cause changes that are similar to macular degeneration which can lead to permanent vision damage. However, because this study was conducted on laboratory animals and that are normally more sensitive to blue light, more research is needed to confirm this finding.
The history of blue light blocking glasses
The trend of blue light blocking glasses started in the 1980s but it was short lived. It all started when NASA invented glasses that were primarily used to block excessive UV lighting from astronauts in the outer space. Astronauts needed strong protection from the sun’s UV lighting which was multiple times stronger in outer space than on Earth.
These glasses also blocked blue light in addition to ultraviolet light rays. However, they were more known for how clear they made regular objects appear than for their UV and blue light blockage.
One of the reasons why this trend didn’t last long is because it was not much known about blue light and its effect on human body. Moreover, there were not so many findings about effects of visible light in general.
What are the benefits of blue light blocking glasses?
The primary benefit of wearing blue light blocking glasses in the night is preservation of normal sleep and wake cycle. By blocking the blue light from our electronic devices in the night, blue light blocking glasses increase the level of melatonin and make falling asleep easier.
There are several studies that confirm this claim in both children and adults. One of the studies has shown that a group of young males who wore orange glasses while looking at phone screens for a couple of hours before bed time felt significantly more sleepy than when they wore clear glasses. Another study had similar findings among adults.
Although more studies are needed, many researchers claim that blue light blocking glasses can also reduce digital strain by reduction of glare and flickering and raise of contrast. Many glasses also have lenses that have glare reduction for additional prevention of digital eye strain.
There are also claims that blue light blocking glasses can also prevent development of myopia or nearsightedness among children who spend many hours using computers and watching TV. It is also believed that they protect the retina and prevent macular degeneration and loss of vision.
What to consider when buying blue light glasses?
The are several thing you should consider before buying blue light glasses.
● Design and style
In the past, the first blue light blocking glasses that were available on the market were big, unattractive with orange lenses that are definitely not trendy by today’s standards.
However, in the last couple of years, you can find blue light blocking glasses in various designs that will accommodate your style.
● Range of protection
It is important to know that not all blue light blocking glasses protect from whole blue light spectrum. Some of them block just one part of blue light spectrum and that is usually the higher end of it.
Usually, blue light blocking glasses that have lenses that don’t look red, orange or yellow are the ones that filter just one part of blue light spectrum. They maybe look nicer but if you want the full protection, you should consider getting the ones with broader range of protection that have colored lenses.
Blue light blocking glasses don’t have to be expensive. Because most people usually wear them during night time before sleep, you can buy those that are less expensive. Quality of these glasses doesn’t have to be determined by their price.
Artificial blue light exposure has become one of the main public health concerns. Although it is not as severe problem as many predicted in the past, artificial blue light effect on our health is still big concern among people and we should protect ourselves.
There are various ways to protect from excessive blue light exposure like screen filters, applications but I still think that blue light glasses are one of the best ways to protect yourself.
They will not only reduce eye strain and maintain a healthy cycle of wake and sleep but also make you more aware of how much you’re using electronic devices. Your eyes will feel rested at the end of the day and you don’t have to worry about dry, irritated, red eyes.
I hope that with this post you’ve learned more about blue light blocking glasses, what they do and how they protect us from artificial blue light exposure.