Today the use of digital devices is on the rise and is higher than they have ever been before. Since these devices have become a larger part of our daily lives, many people suffer from digital eye strain, which has always been thought to be caused by the artificial blue light that emits out of our smartphones, tablets, televisions, and computers. Looking at your devices for extended periods of time could play a major role in how tired your eyes are at the end of the day.
A recent study by researchers at The University of Toledo in the United States has discovered something much more concerning than digital eyestrain. Researchers revealed that prolonged exposure to the blue light from these devices could turn some of the molecules in your eyes to become toxic. These toxic molecules are generated in the eye’s light-sensitive cells and could accelerate the rate of macular degeneration, which is an incurable condition that leads to significant vision loss.
Macular degeneration is caused by the death of the photoreceptor cells in the eye. This condition usually shows up as we age, and could eventually lead to total loss of vision. Photoreceptors are one of the cells in your body that do not regenerate when they are gone it’s gone. Since your eyes have thousands of photoreceptor cells, you won’t notice any vision loss if a few are gone, but as the number of photoreceptor cell deaths rise, you will start to notice your vision loss.
What Is Blue Light?
Blue light is a part of the visible light spectrum. The visible light itself is a lot more complicated than you think, without getting into the details, all the colors of the visible light spectrum combined to create the white light that you see on a daily basis.
Therefore, blue light is technically everywhere. Our sun is the main source of blue light, and being outdoors during the day is where most of us get exposure to it. However, with the boom in technology, there are many artificial sources of blue light ranging from indoor sources such as fluorescent and LED lighting.
The worse culprits of them all are smartphones, flat-screen televisions, computers, and tablets. The amount of blue light coming off of these devices is very small compared to the sun. However, what concerns healthcare professionals is the amount of time people spend using these devices, as well as the proximity of the screens to the user’s face. Experts are barely scratching the surface on the possible long-term effects of blue light on not only your eye health but your overall health as well.
Check out this video brought to you by VSP Vision Care, talking about the potential effects of blue light on your eyes.
How to Reduce Your Blue Light Exposure
If you are constantly using your smartphone, tablet, or computer a pair of blue light blocking reading glasses could be helpful to reduce your blue light exposure from these devices. Many manufacturers make blue light blocking glasses that you can get without a prescription, or you can even get them with slight magnification to be optimized for the distance that you look at your devices.
If you wear prescription glasses, many manufacturers have created a special anti-reflective coating that also blocks blue light from natural sunlight as well as your digital devices. Another thing that you may consider if you are wearing prescription glasses is photochromic lenses, which provides you with protection from UV as well as blue light both outdoors and in. Photochromic lenses automatically darken when there is UV rays outdoors, which also provides an increased level of comfort, and glare reduction.
Do The Glasses Even Work?
Although there has not been a study that shows how effective all the different glasses, coatings, and filters are at filtering out blue light or helping with digital eye strain. In my experience, my eyes feel more rested at the end of a long day whenever I use my prescription glasses that have the blue light blocking coating.
Before the study from the University of Toledo came out there was little known about what the blue light was actually doing to your eyes. Now that we know the blue light is turning cells in your eyes toxic, it might be a good idea to use some sort of blue light blocking filter, whether it be a filter for your device’s screen, or a pair of blue light blocking glasses.
It is important to remember that these filters and glasses only block a certain percentage of blue light not all, therefore you should definitely make an effort to reduce screen time whenever possible.
Where to Buy Reading Glasses with Blue Light Protection
Depending on your preferences, and what your budget is there are many options to get glasses with blue light protection. You are able to purchase Plano glasses with no prescription, as well as magnified reading or computer glasses that filter out blue light.
If you have a prescription, there are many retailers that offer an anti-reflective coating that filters out blue light. Here are a few places you should take a look at if you are looking for blue light blocking glasses.
- 1. Readers.com – Readers.com offers quite a large selection of glasses that block out blue light. There are many different frame styles for you to choose from, as well as a range of different lens types you can pick from as well. The lens types include multifocal, fully magnified, as well as unmagnified lenses.
- 2. Gunnar.com – Gunnar Optik has been developing eyewear to help with digital eye strain from devices for a long time. They have long been known to develop glasses for gamers, who spend extended periods of time looking at computer monitors, or television screens. They offer patented blue light lenses, with options starting at lenses that filter out 10% of blue light all the way up to 65% of blue light for indoor glasses.
- 3. Walmart – Walmart.com carries quite a large selection of glasses that filter out blue light. You can get things from clip-on glasses that go over your current glasses, to standard magnified reading glasses with blue light protection. They even have blue light blocking glasses for children. Walmart does also offer prescription lenses with a blue light blocking anti-reflective coating however you will have to visit your local Walmart Vision Center and speak with one of their opticians.
- 4.Amazon – Amazon also carries a large selection of blue light blocking glasses from many different sellers. You can find a variety of different frames, magnified, as well as glasses with no prescription.
- 5. Coastal – If you are looking for designer prescription glasses and blue light protection, this is your place. They carry a wide variety of designer frames, and you can add a blue light protector coating on for an additional $45 if you wear single vision and $115 for no-line progressive bifocal lenses. If you don’t wear a prescription, you can still get Plano lens in a designer frame for the same price as the single vision lenses.
- 6. Zenni – Zenni Optical offers very inexpensive prescription glasses with blue light protection. You can get the coating as an add-on for an additional $16.95 no matter what type of lenses you need. The lenses are in CR-39 Plastic though so they might scratch easy,
- 7. Eyeconic – At Eyeconic you can also get designer eyewear and add a blue light protection coating onto your prescription lenses. The blue light protection coating from Eyeconic starts at $135. The benefit of using Eyeconic is that if you have vision insurance through VSP, MetLife, or Cigna Vision you are able to apply your vision benefits online. Which save you the hassle of getting an invoice and submitting it to your insurance for reimbursement.
The Bottom Line
Although there are many options out there to help protect your eyes against blue light. You still should be more proactive about protecting your eyes from blue light by reducing screen time whenever possible. Also, it is not recommended to look at your devices for prolonged periods of time in the dark. When it is dark, your pupils are dilated, which means more blue light will be entering your eye, putting you at a higher risk of damage.
The research group over at The University of Toledo will be continuing their study to try and figure out what kind of intensity levels of blue light is causing these cells to turn toxic and kill photoreceptor cells.
Until we know more about the long-term damage of blue light, we should all protect our eyes whenever we can, as well as be more proactive about putting our devices down more often, especially at night.
How much time do you spend in front of digital devices? Feel free to share below! Thank you all for stopping by at Eye health Headquarters, if you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to leave them below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
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