We live in a digital world. We use our screens for work, education, entertainment, and even social purposes. Everything from checking our emails to Facetiming grandma involves the use of a screen.
While technology certainly makes our lives easier in many ways, prolonged screen time can also cause eye and vision problems, known as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. In recent years, many people have tried coping with computer vision syndrome by wearing blue light–blocking glasses.
But do blue light glasses really work? And what else can you do to get relief from digital eye strain?
Keep reading to find out.
Digital eye strain symptoms
Viewing a computer or digital screen makes the eyes work harder. Reading off a computer or phone is not the same as reading a book — the letters may not be as precise or sharply defined, there may be varying levels of contrast, and glares or reflections can make it even more difficult to view.
If you have even minor vision problems, your comfort may be affected. Uncorrected or under-corrected vision problems can play a major factor in eye strain and cause other problems such as poor posture or muscle soreness because of how you need to sit to view the screen properly.
Some of the most common symptoms of computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain are:
- Tired eyes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Neck and shoulder pain
People who spend two or more continuous hours on a screen are at a greater risk of developing digital eye strain. Many of these symptoms will stop after stepping away from the screens; however, some people may experience continued symptoms such as blurred vision even after they’ve left their screens.
Do blue light–blocking glasses really work?
The popularity of blue light–blocking glasses has skyrocketed over the past few years. Blue light has a short wavelength, and personal devices like phones, tablets, and computers give off more blue light than any other color. So if protecting your eyes from the harmful effects of screens is as easy as popping on some glasses, why wouldn’t you buy a pair?
But the question is: do blue light glasses really protect your eyes from damage?
The short answer: no.
While it is true that overexposure to blue light and UV light rays from the sun can increase your risk of eye disease, the small amount of blue light from your screen has never been shown to cause any harm to human eyes.
Lab studies have shown that prolonged exposure to blue light can damage retinal cells in mice. But human eyes are different from mice eyes. We have protective elements, such as macular pigments and the natural blue-blocking ability of the crystalline lens. These structures absorb blue light before it reaches the delicate retina.
Just because blue light doesn’t affect your retina doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Exposure to blue light can disrupt sleep physiology by upsetting your body’s sleep-wake cycle. When you look at a brightly lit screen, your body thinks it is daytime and puts your internal clock on daytime-level alertness.
However, eliminating blue light alone won’t cut it when it comes to improving sleep — you’ll need to dim all colors.
The bottom line? While they may help improve your sleep, blue light–blocking glasses are not necessary for maintaining healthy eyes. Digital eye strain results from the length of time you spend looking at a screen, not the blue light being emitted.
How to prevent digital eye strain
We all know we should probably spend less time on our phones, but giving up screens is not an option for many people. Let’s take a look at a few of the easiest ways to prevent computer vision syndrome.
1. Follow the 20-20-20 rule.
The 20-20-20 rule is one of the easiest ways to avoid digital eye strain. Every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, look at something at least 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds. It takes about 20 seconds for your eyes to fully relax, so make sure you don’t cut it short. To remind yourself, try setting an alert on your phone.
2. If you wear contacts, choose those designed for hydration.
Typically, people blink about 15–20 times per minute. Blinking helps spread tears evenly over your eyes, keeping them moist and lubricated. However, when looking at a screen, people tend to blink less often.
Keep your eyes happy by blinking often or by using artificial tears. Aveo daily lenses are also specifically designed to keep your eyes moist with AquaLock, which mimics a hydrophilic molecule that occurs naturally in your eyes. AquaLock creates a cushion of hydration against the surface of your eye and keeps your contacts 96% hydrated even after 12 hours of wear — and it’s integrated right into the lens, so it won’t wear off or dissipate like a coating.
3. Dim surrounding lights to avoid glare.
Screen brightness and glare can be a leading cause of digital eye strain. If possible, dim the surrounding lights and position your screen to avoid glare. Consider changing your screens into dark mode, or try a glare-reduction filter for your screen.
4. Position your computer for optimal comfort.
How close to your computer screen you sit can significantly affect the level of digital eye strain you experience. Most people find it more comfortable to view a computer when the eyes are looking downward. Optimally, the computer screen should be below eye level and about 25 inches from the eyes.
For hand-held devices like phones or tablets, hold the device below eye level at a distance that comfortably allows you to see the screen.
5. Increase text size.
If you find yourself straining to read your screen or constantly leaning forward in your seat, try increasing the size of the text on your screen to make it more comfortable for your eyes. You may also find that your current prescription is not strong enough, in which case it is important to have your prescription reassessed by a professional.
Summing it up
As easy as it would be to have blue light–blocking glasses solve all your problems, the truth is that blue light glasses won’t help with digital eye strain the way that you want them to. Instead, taking scheduled breaks, optimizing your screen setup, and getting contact lenses that promote eye health are the best ways to prevent digital eye strain and keep your eyes happy and healthy.
Aveo offers cutting-edge, affordable contact lenses, with and without astigmatism correction, that are good for you and the environment. Start your trial today and get 10 pairs for just $5.
Get smarter while you scroll by following us on Instagram @aveovision
Start your journey to more comfortable contact lenses now by signing up for a 10-pair trial!