“Computer glasses” are a booming product, thanks to the increased time we spend in front of screens, but scientists say they are of little use.
Jennifer Lopez the uses, Kylie jenner Y Rashida Jones promote them and Drew Barrymore promote them sell. During the pandemic, blue light filter lenses are emerging as the ideal accessory for long days in front of screens. But do we need them?
Those glasses filter certain light waves emitted by the sun and, to a lesser extent, digital devices such as phones, laptops and tablets. Blue light is not inherently bad, but it favors attention and wakefulness during the day. But it suppresses the natural production of melatonin at night.
According to the companies, by limiting blue light exposure to as little as 20 percent, the client could sleep better, experience less eye strain, and prevent possible damage to the retina.
Nevertheless, Scientists are not convinced these glasses are a good investment.
“From any point of view, it is very difficult to justify spending extra money”Says John Lawrenson, Professor of Clinical Visual Sciences at the City, University of London. (Prices vary, but start around $ 20.) After reviewing several studies testing the effectiveness of blue-blocking lenses, he and his colleagues they concluded that the glasses They are not necessary.
Digital eye strain is real, but it’s impossible to say with certainty that blue light is the culprit. “No one has established an independent causal association between computer blue light and visual symptoms,” says Lawrenson. He recommended going to an ophthalmologist for a checkup rather than rushing to buy glasses without a prescription.
In any case, the category of blue light is booming. A quick Google search reveals several brands that sell almost exclusively “computer glasses” (such as Felix Gray, which raised more than $ 1.7 million in funding in 2020, bringing its total funding to $ 7.8 million. dollars through September, according to PitchBook), as well as prescription eyewear companies such as Zenni (which sold two million pairs of its Blokz glasses in 2020, according to the company) and Jins (which saw an increase in online orders last year). If you’ve shopped at Warby Parker recently, you’ve probably been asked if you want a blue light filter added to your lenses.
“As many clients started working from home last year, we have seen a significant increase in demand for these lenses,” Neil Blumenthal, one of Warby Parker’s CEOs, wrote in an email. “Last April, we experienced a significant increase specifically for non-prescription blue light filter lenses and we have seen this trend continue during the pandemic.”
The amount of blue light emitted by our devices is too small to pose a serious risksays David Ramsey, a retina specialist at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Massachusetts. Our eyes receive much more blue light outdoors than indoors, even when it is cloudy. To get an idea of the scale, Ramsey suggests pulling out one of your devices on a bright day. “How many of us have been to the beach with our laptop or cell phone and have been impressed by how difficult it is to read the screen?” He said.
The idea that blue light lenses can protect the retina from damage is so unfounded that in the UK, Boots optician had to pay a fine of 40,000 pounds, about $ 56,000, after making “misleading and unsubstantiated” claims on the matter.
An investigation that studied 5000 eyes analyzed what happens when a blue light filter is added to a synthetic lens that is implanted in the eye after a cataract operation. The authors found no conclusive evidence that the filters were beneficial in any way. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation has explicitly stated that “there is not much evidence to support the use of blue light filter lenses for everyday electronic device use”.
If eye strain is your concern, consider stepping away from the screen from time to time. “Using the computer for long periods of time can cause eye strain. It’s important to take breaks, ”says Ramsey. “That has little or nothing to do with blue light.”
As for sleep, exposure to blue light it does suppress the production of melatonin, which makes people sleepy. This is why we tend to be awake when the sun is shining and we feel more tired when it sets. Limiting exposure to blue light at night could help maintain that dichotomy. But instead of wearing blue light glasses before bed, try putting the phone away an hour or two beforehand. After all, studies have shown that screen time can negatively affect sleep for a number of reasons.
Sleep experts also recommend exercising, not having dinner too late, having a bedtime routine, and cutting down on news and social media at night, good advice for anyone, especially in this day and age. “Sleep hygiene is very important,” says Ramsey. “Our bedtime behaviors are just as important, if not more, than our exposure to blue light.”
© The New York Times 2021