Digital Consumption vs. Eye Health

By Caroline Betik – December 1, 2020

Blurry vision, watery eyes, a sharp headache and a stiff neck — it is the new, after-work feeling far too many of us can now relate to. 

As many employment agencies across America have adapted to work from home, the amount of time spent on a screen for the average American has dramatically increased. “Screen fatigue” is a relatively new term that has emerged from this which describes the tiredness felt when spending long periods of time with technology

In order to combat the effects of screen time, blue light glasses have become increasingly popular. However, these glasses have received mixed reviews from both users and optometrists. Although it is still unclear what long-term health effects time on our screens will have on eye health, growing research now shows that the blue light emitted from our screens is not necessarily the harmful component, but rather the act of being on a screen for an extended period of time.

The newest trend in eyewear, blue light glasses, claims to help protect the eyes from blue light exposure. Many users swear by these glasses, which are said to help improve sleep, reduce digital eye strain and also prevent eye disease. 

  Blue light is a color in the visible light spectrum that can be seen by the human eye. Because of its short wavelength, it produces a higher amount of energy which may cause discomfort when engaging with screens for long periods of time. 

Despite this discomfort, Harvard Medical School reports the amount of blue light emitted from electronic devices is not actually harmful to the retina or any other part of the eye. 

However, Harvard Health does report that blue light, and any light in general, can impact your sleep. Because exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm. Blue light can do so more powerfully. 

A study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine shows how the use of blue light glasses aided in sleep and circadian rhythms

To see how the Austin community felt about blue light glasses, we spoke with several AFM readers to get the scoop on what they think of the current trend. 

Kevin McRee ordered a pair of blue light glasses online after suffering from migraines and nausea from being on technology for extended periods of time. McRee bought a pair of blue light glasses after they were recommended to him by his coworker. After wearing them regularly, McRee says he immediately noticed an improvement in his everyday health. 

“At first, I thought the blue light glasses were just a fad, but once I tried them out my pinching headaches went away and I can sleep better,” McRee says. “I also noticed I fall asleep much faster when I use my glasses before bed as I am watching TV and laying down.” 

While tracking his sleep using an app, McRee says his data shows that when using his blue light glasses before bed with his devices, he tends to fall asleep much quicker and even falls into a deep sleep faster than when he forgets to wear them at night. 

Lack of sleep can be associated with a decrease in the quality of life, in many different areas including your eating habits, your interactions with others and your motivation to do work. Lack of sleep can also lead to many more health complications if not dealt with quickly, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Brad Clark bought blue light glasses for his daughter since she began going to school online and using technology more frequently in an effort to keep his daughter healthy. 

“My daughter is not a typical teen, in the sense she doesn’t spend a lot of time on a phone,” Clark says. “Even after limited screen time after 4 p.m., she was still getting headaches and seemed restless until the glasses.” 

According to a study on global pediatric health in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, children make up one of the largest consumer groups of technology, yet sleep is fundamental to optimal functioning for health and behavior of children and development. When overexposure to technology affects a child’s sleep, it can lead to many other health problems in the future. 

While optometrists recommend using blue light glasses in order to prevent these effects, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reports there are ways to mitigate harmful effects without investing in a pair of glasses. 

Simply decreasing evening screen time and switching devices to night mode are a few ways to improve quality of sleep. Additionally, when engaging with technology for long periods of time, taking frequent breaks by making it a point to look away from the screen every 20 minutes at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds will help the eyes reset and remember to blink. 

However, not everyone claims blue light glasses help improve eye strain or restlessness. 

Ritika Vadehra says she resorted to being more intentional about her time on a screen after the blue light glasses she wore did not help her feel any less screen fatigue.  

“Sometimes I felt super tired or I had a lingering headache coming on when I am on a screen for too long, but there was not much of a difference when I used them,” Vadehra says. “I know a lot of people who will use the glasses because it is trendy to have them on Zoom calls, but I also know many people who swear by them.” 

While there is not much evidence supporting blue light glasses to increase eye health due to the fact that blue light does not significantly impact it, blue light glasses do in fact do their job in filtering out blue light exposure to screens — therefore blue light glasses are proven to help improve sleep quality in the midst of extended time on screens, especially at night. 

 

Where did our AFM community get their blue light glasses? 

Warby Parker

Amazon 

Oliver Peoples

Local Optometrist 

MVMT

Optometrists in Austin with blue light glasses prescriptions. 

Austin Eye Works 

Howerton Eye Clinic

Lakeline Vision

McCormick Vision Source

Bristol Family Eyecare

Vision Source 

 
 

Related Articles

AFM Digital Magazine 

What's Fit, Fun and Local?

Stay Up To Date With Our Newsletter

Sign Up Today