As a writer by both trade and hobby, I'd estimate that I spend at least nine hours a day diligently staring at a computer screen, and whatever little downtime I have left is spent equally diligently staring at my smartphone (like any self-disrespecting millennial).
After reading an article about the effects of blue light on eye health, I started to get worried — and rightly so, it turns out. "As our lives become more interconnected and interdependent on technology, we are exposed to more blue light and doctors of optometry are working to ensure patients have simple tools to manage exposure and to protect their vision," says Dr. Andrea P. Thau, former president of the American Optometric Association. As for the specific effects? Well, the AOA states that "overexosure to blue light can cause digital eye strain leading to sleep disorders and even age-related vision problems for some patients," also adding that common digital eye strain symptoms include "headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain and eye irritation."
So, armed with this (slightly scary) information, I decided to go out and get myself some blue light-blocking-glasses, stat. "Blue light-blocking or blue light filter eyeglasses can protect your eyes from the blue light beaming from your screen," the AOA says. "These lenses reduce the amount of blue light entering the eye as well as reducing glare." I wore them (fairly religiously) for about a week and a half to see what they were like — here are my takeaways.
Image via Imaxtree
Instant effects of blue light glasses
Immediately upon putting the glasses on, you'll notice that the glare from your screen is reduced — it becomes less blindingly bright and takes on a more tolerable, amber tinge. The feeling really is akin to putting on a pair of sunglasses — though, of course, these lenses are clear. That's score one for blue light-blocking glasses.
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As a routine glasses-wearer who has sentenced herself to wearing slightly frumpy wire-rims for reasons of comfort and laziness, my snazzy new blue light-blocking frames gained me a good amount of compliments. I got various forms of "Are those new glasses? I love them!" the whole time I was testing the lenses. It definitely tempted me to throw out my nebbish frames in favor of something more stylish...but, once again, laziness won out.
Reduced eye strain
Wearing them at my computer all day, it was a little tough to discern just how much of a difference the glasses were making — especially as I know myself to be particularly vulnerable to the placebo effect. (What can I say? I'm gullible.) That said, when I wore them while using my phone, the effects were much more noticeable. When I'm reading a book or playing games on my phone, my eyes usually start to feel a little strained and tired after half an hour or so. With the glasses, I didn't experience that feeling of eye strain, even though I got sucked into reading a page-turner ("Lethal White," the latest from J.K. Rowling's alter ego, Robert Galbraith) for well over an hour.
Image via Imaxtree
Will I keep wearing my blue light glasses?
After trying out the glasses and gaining a healthy fear of blue light from Dr. Thau and the AOA, I'm going to do my best to wear the glasses when I think about it. I now keep a pair by my desk that I find myself reaching for towards the late afternoon when my eyes are getting a bit more tired. I also have a pair at home for whenever I'm spending a prolonged amount of time wiling away the hours on my smartphone. I'm not going to lie: It's not going to be something I'll always remember to do, but a little blue light protection is better than none at all, right?
Overall, I'd definitely recommend checking out blue light frames if you spend a lot of time staring at various screens (and in this day and age, who doesn't?)
Image via @healthyoffice