If you want to reduce eyestrain, don’t rely on blue light glasses. A better approach: Set up a proper office—at work or at home—and take frequent breaks. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Ever see those ads for glasses that block blue light, touting their ability to reduce eyestrain from overexposure to computer screens?

Experts say there’s no scientific evidence to show their effectiveness.

So unless you want to make a fashion statement, you might as well fold up the glasses and put them back in their case.

“The glasses should not cause any harm to people who prefer to wear them, but they are likely not going to help reduce eyestrain with monitor use,” Brooke Geddie, DO, pediatric ophthalmologist with Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, said.

In fact, blue light is probably not the culprit when screen use leads to eyestrain or fatigue, Dr. Geddie said.

“These problems are related to how we use our devices, not the blue light coming out of them,” she said. “We tend to stare at screens. Less blinking can lead to dry eye. Constant focusing on the screen or the brightness from it can also be straining.”

Instead of using special glasses, she suggests:

  • Take breaks from screen use
  • Use artificial tear eye drops
  • Position yourself farther from the screen
  • Turn down the brightness and use a filter to reduce glare

Mixed blessing

As part of the normal light wavelengths—which include red, blue and green—blue light or the blue light wavelength from the sun or computer and electronic devices can boost alertness and mood.

There is, however, a downside.

“Too much exposure can disrupt our natural sleep cycle,” Dr. Geddie said. “Therefore, it can be important to avoid using screens at bedtime and decrease devices’ brightness using night or dark mode in the evening to get more restful sleep.”

Also, she said that although there is evidence that overexposure to ultra-violet light rays (and blue light) from the sun can raise the risk of eye disease, such as macular degeneration, the small amount of blue light wavelength coming from computers or other electronic devices has not been shown to be harmful.

“There have been studies with concern for damage to cells in a dish and animals, but these studies did not mimic the natural conditions of blue light exposure to human eyes or use blue light from computer screens,” Dr. Geddie said.

Ultimately, the use of computer screens and digital devices is nearly unavoidable, so it’s important to take proper steps to reduce eye strain. Set up a proper office—at work or at home—and take frequent breaks.

But generally, scientific studies thus far have not shown evidence to link blue light from screens to damage to the retina.

“There hasn’t been any scientific evidence to show that using these devices will harm your eyes,” Dr. Geddie said. “And although blue light glasses are well-marketed to the public to reduce eye strain and prevent eye disease, the evidence does not support this.”