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Do Blue Light Glasses Reduce Digital Eye Strain?

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If you spend hours on your computer, tired, strained eyes may feel like a common part of life, but these are common symptoms of digital eye strain (or computer vision syndrome). While not an immediate emergency, this condition can be irritating and disrupt your daily life. 

There are several ways to prevent and relieve your symptoms, and you may have heard of blue light glasses as an effective way to reduce the effects of eye strain.

How do you know if these glasses can prevent digital eye strain? Before you think about ordering yourself a pair, learn more about digital eye strain and if blue light glasses can help lessen its symptoms. 

What is Digital Eye Strain? 

Digital eye strain is a condition where eyes become irritated after using digital screens for long periods. Many people spend multiple hours in front of the computer or another device every day, so it’s no surprise digital eye strain is quite common.
Over 70% of Albertans have reported experiencing symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, and light sensitivity. When you use the computer, you may blink up to 50% less, so if you use the computer for multiple hours a day, it’s no surprise your eyes may feel tired and sore. 

If you’re used to digital eye strain, you may think the symptoms are a part of everyday computer use, but they can affect your quality of life. 

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

There are several symptoms associated with digital eye strain, and if you experience them consistently, book an appointment with your optometrist:

  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Sore, tired, or burning eyes
  • Sore neck, shoulders, or back
  • Difficulty concentrating

If you’re suffering from digital eye strain, there are ways to prevent and relieve symptoms. You may have heard of blue light glasses or had them recommended by a friend, but can they help? 

What is Blue Light?

Blue light is a short wavelength, high-energy light which primarily emits from the sun, computer monitors, televisions, and other digital screens.

Some believe blue light exposure is damaging to your eyes, so the purpose of blue light glasses is to reduce the amount that can reach your eyes. With less light reaching your eyes, you should theoretically feel fewer effects of digital eye strain, but do these glasses help in practice?

Do Blue Light Glasses Reduce Digital Eye Strain? 

While these glasses are effective at filtering blue light, there is no evidence artificial blue light is harmful to the eye. Because of this, some institutions don’t recommend the use of blue light glasses for digital eye strain relief. Despite this, others believe the glasses can help reduce general eye strain while working. 

If you’re on the fence about getting blue light glasses, speak with your optometrist and they can help you make an informed decision. These glasses are not the only way to prevent or relieve digital eye strain symptoms, as other options exist, which your optometrist may recommend instead. 

Digital Eye Strain Prevention & Relief 

If you’re unsure about blue light glasses and looking for other options, there are a few alternatives for digital eye strain prevention or reduction, including: 

  • Environmental & habitual changes 
  • Anti-glare coating 
  • Computer progressive lenses 

Environmental & Habitual Changes 

If eyewear is not for you, there are simple changes you can make to your workspace and daily routine to prevent or reduce digital eye strain symptoms. These changes include: 

  • Positioning your screen at least an arm’s length away
  • Keeping your screen free of dust and fingerprints
  • Minimizing glare by keeping your screen away from sunlight 
  • The 20/20/20 rule 

Eye strain is common when working closely on the computer or other screens, and you can reduce the risk of irritation by positioning yourself at an optimal distance from your screen. Stay at least an arm’s length away and you can also angle your screen to reduce any incoming glare. 

If you have a window nearby, moving your screen away can reduce the amount of sunlight hitting your screen, allowing you to strain your eyes less to see. Keep your screen clear of dust and fingerprints and you can increase visual clarity. 

The 20/20/20 rule is an effective way to prevent digital eye strain. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something at least 20 feet away. This lets your eyes rest and relax after focusing on a screen for long periods. These tips can be used alongside assistive eyewear to keep your eyes rested and relaxed. 

Anti-Glare Coating 

Anti-glare coating can be an effective way to reduce strain on your eyes. It can be applied to the front and back of your lenses to prevent incoming glare and provide you with visual clarity. 

Glare from street lights, lamps, and computer screens is greatly reduced and can allow you to work for longer without irritation. It can usually be added onto phone screens and other devices as a screen covering as well. 

Computer Progressive Lenses 

Progressive lenses are a great solution if you suffer from presbyopia. Standard, single vision eyeglasses may not provide you with effective vision at multiple distances, and you will need to switch between your normal prescription and reading glasses multiple times per day. 
Progressive lenses solve this issue by combining multiple prescriptions into a single lens. They have a gradual transition between prescriptions and you can focus on whichever part of the lens provides the best vision. 

However, standard progressive lenses are not optimized for computer work and you may be accidentally switching between your prescriptions while working. This can affect your ability to focus because your eyes are constantly adjusting. Computer progressive lenses are designed to provide you with clear vision at a computer distance. 

If you’re looking for long-term relief from digital eye strain symptoms, but are unsure what to do, speak with your optometrist to help you make an informed decision. 

Let the Optometrists at Red Deer Eye Care Help

If you’re experiencing digital eye strain symptoms, need relief, or advice on how to protect your eyes, contact your optometrist. The team at Red Deer Eye Care can determine the cause of your symptoms and provide treatment for your specific needs.  

Written by Dr. Daryl Berger

Dr. Berger was born and raised in Red Deer. After studying at Red Deer College and the U of A, he graduated with honours from the optometry program at Waterloo in 2007. Daryl enjoys music, cars, biking, hiking, snowboarding and travel. He and his wife, Pamela, have twin boys and a dog named Gus.
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