They are a staple on zoom calls, you see ads for them everywhere, and chances are you have a pair lying around the house. But do you really need blue light glasses? The answer may surprise you.

Blue light glasses are promoted to prevent eye strain and eye disease, help improve sleep and combat computer vision syndrome. However according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) blue light glasses aren’t necessary to do these things. They state that:

  • Blue light from computers will not lead to eye disease. It is true that overexposure to blue light and UV light rays from the sun can raise the risk of eye disease, but the small amount of blue light coming from computer screens has never been shown to cause any harm to our eyes.
  • Sleep can be improved without special eyeglasses. You don’t need to spend extra money on blue light glasses to improve sleep— simply decrease evening screen time and set devices to night mode.
  • Digital eye strain is not caused by blue light. The symptoms of digital eye strain are linked to how we use our digital devices, not the blue light coming out of them.

Increased screen time like most everyone has experienced during the past year can, however, cause discomfort. People experience different symptoms but they often include headaches, dry eyes, blurry vision, or watery eyes. The issue is when looking at screens our blink rate drastically goes down. This can cause all of the above symptoms. The AAO suggests doing to following to combat them:

  • Take frequent breaks by using the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes look away from your screen and look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to reset and replenish themselves.
  • Use artificial tears to lubricate your eyes when they feel dry.
  • Keep your distance. Sit about 25 inches or at arm’s length from your screen and adjust its height so you’re looking slightly downward at it.
  • Reduce glare and brightness. Devices with glass screens can cause glare. To reduce glare, consider a matte screen filter for your device. Adjusting the brightness and contrast of your screen and dimming the lighting near your screen can also help reduce eye strain.
  • Wear eyeglasses. If you wear contact lenses, you already know they can increase dryness and irritation. To reduce these symptoms, try wearing eyeglasses instead when working on a computer for longer periods.

It’s also helpful to know that while in large amounts blue light can be harmful to the eyes you are exposed to much higher levels from the sun and other natural sources. Studies have found no correlation between blue light from screens and eye disease.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t wear blue light glasses. If you have them and feel they help you absolutely continue to wear them. I personally feel they do keep me from getting headaches. Whether or not that is a placebo I couldn’t say, but the trade-off (when I remember) is worth it for me. While most doctors will agree they aren’t necessary they are not harmful in the least.