We dedicate numerous hours each day to facing our computer or smartphone screens, whether it’s for professional tasks or leisure activities. As these screens emit the renowned blue light, which is occasionally regarded as potentially detrimental to our well-being, even though scientific investigations present conflicting viewpoints, it appears rational to desire safeguarding ourselves from its effects.
Optometrists subsequently recommend the application of anti-blue light filters to spectacle lenses, aiming to mitigate the presumed adverse consequences of such exposure on ocular strain and even sleep patterns. Yet, the efficacy of these filters remains uncertain. To ascertain their genuine impact versus potential ineffectiveness, a comprehensive analysis of existing scientific literature on this matter is presented in a Cochrane Library-published meta-analysis.
Heterogeneous Scientific Literature
The researchers hailing from the University of Melbourne behind this review undertook an analysis of 17 randomized clinical trials. These trials encompassed a comparison of diverse factors related to eye health, such as visual acuity, the critical flicker fusion (CFF) threshold, glare perception, and indicators like fatigue and sleep quality. The trials were conducted on two distinct sets of volunteers: one group wore blue light filter glasses, while the other used regular glasses.
This assortment of studies exhibits significant diversity in terms of participant numbers (ranging from one individual to 156), their health conditions (encompassing both healthy individuals and those grappling with mental or sleep disorders), and the duration of the study’s observation period (spanning from one to five weeks). The majority of the analyses offer qualitative outcomes rather than quantitative ones, which introduces several inherent biases. Nonetheless, the researchers have managed to deduce several insights from these studies.
Are Blue-Light Glasses Useless?
Based on findings from these 17 studies, it can be concluded that blue light-blocking glasses do not provide relief from eye fatigue, nor do they enhance visual quality. The impact on sleep, however, remains uncertain due to conflicting results among the studies. Among the compiled research, six studies propose that glasses equipped with blue light-blocking filters can enhance sleep quality, whereas three studies indicate no noticeable advantage in this regard.
Furthermore, there are indications from specific studies that the use of blue light-blocking glasses might potentially trigger migraines, discomfort (caused by alterations in color perception due to certain filters), and even mood disorders. These adverse effects are not typically associated with regular glasses.
Given these observations, one might question the efficacy of blue light-blocking glasses. Although the accumulated evidence seems to lean towards a lack of positive effects on visual health, it’s important to acknowledge the potential biases present in these studies. Caution is advised when interpreting these findings. To draw more definitive conclusions, it will be imperative to conduct higher-quality clinical trials in the future.
- Singh, S., Keller, P. R., Busija, L., McMillan, P., Makrai, E., Lawrenson, J. G., Hull, C. C., & Downie, L. E. (2023, August 18). Blue-light filtering spectacle lenses for visual performance, sleep, and macular health in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2023(8).
- Featured Image: Flickr@Nenad Stojkovic.