Debunking the Science Behind Blue Light
Updated: Apr 14
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You have been sitting in front of your laptop for the past hour, trying to complete your essay that is due by the stroke of midnight. Sound familiar? In 2018, contact lens company Acuvue conducted a survey, in which they discovered that office workers spend an average of 6.5 hours working in front of a screen. The rise of technology has led to an increase of screen time, thus leading to the increase of eye exposure to blue light.
Blue light is everywhere, but a majority of the blue light on Earth comes from the sun. What differentiates the blue light being emitted from the sun compared to artificial blue light, such as that which is emitted from a cell phone, is the length of the blue light’s wavelengths. All light the human eye can see is grouped into the “visible spectrum,” in which colours such as red and orange have longer wavelengths and lower frequencies, whereas colours such as blue and purple have shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies. These shorter wavelengths are what spark concerns among the ophthalmology community.
In 2019, Erin Lynn Sattler invested in her first pair of blue light glasses after realizing how her eyesight gradually started blurring. After wearing them, she felt a reduced eye strain, which fulfilled her goal when investing in the glasses.
According to the Market Study Report, “the global market for blue light eyewear will increase to $27 million by 2024” (Ellis, 2019). Like Sattler, many people invest in blue light glasses as they are marketed to reduce eye strain and eye diseases, and improve sleep quality. However, the opinion on whether or not these glasses work is split between professionals, as there is not enough research to thoroughly back up these claims. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests that digital eye strain is not necessarily correlated with blue light, but rather it comes from the overuse of devices. Susan Primo, an optometrist at Emory University agrees that digital overuse can result in eye strain, but oddly enough, she has patients who report blue light glasses to be helpful.
There are many small habits that one can implement without having to invest in blue light glasses. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that screens should be placed at least 25 inches away from the eye, in addition, placed in a way that allows the user to look slightly downwards. Moreover, placing a matte screen filter also helps to reduce the glare from screens. Most devices even have settings to enhance the warmth of the light being emitted from the screen or reduce the brightness on your device. The next time you are cramming your next essay, consider giving your eyes a break, and try to decrease your evening screen time!