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  • Writer's pictureTim White

What’s The Big Deal About Blue Light?

”Computer glasses” and “blue-light glasses” have become extremely popular over the past several years. A quick Google search will list several manufacturers of these lenses. Zenni, Warby Parker, and Felix Gray are a few popular brands. The blue-light business is booming! Why have they become so popular?

Blue light is a relatively low-wavelength, high-energy light emitted by the sun and, to a minuscule degree, from digital devices, such as laptops and cellphones. Blue-light glasses are fitted with lenses that filter out this specific wavelength. The eye is not particularly good at filtering out this short wavelength of light. The cornea and lens transmit most blue light to the retina. This constant exposure over time can damage the cells in the retina and increase the chance of vision loss and age-related macular degeneration. While that sounds scary, no studies have shown that any type of light emitted from screens will damage the eye. The Sun is the greatest source of blue light. Negative effects to the eye from its light have been well documented. However, in regards to screens, the American Macular Degeneration Foundation has directly stated that "there isn't much evidence to support wearing blue-light-blocking glasses for daily electronics use," and the American Academy of Ophthalmology states that blue light from devices will not cause eye disease. To put it simply, blue light from electronic devices is not going to increase the risk of macular degeneration or harm any other part of the eye.

What research does suggest is that blue light has a negative effect on our sleep pattern and may possibly increase eye strain. Before the use of artificial light, sunlight was our primary source of illumination. Our evenings were spent in relative darkness. Now, all evening we are bombarded by light right until the moment we put down our phone. This excessive light exposure reduces the production of melatonin, a hormone that our brain produces in response to darkness. It helps with the timing of our circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock) and with sleep. Blue-light glasses may be beneficial in the fact that reducing the amount of blue light we are exposed to in the evening, increases our melatonin production to enable us to sleep better.

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