Eye Strain and Blue Light

The following article addresses digital induced eye strain and effective remedies for improving the condition; while also considering whether the use of “blue light glasses” are effective

What is Digital Eye Strain?

Also known as "Computer Vision Syndrome", this condition occurs from sitting for extended periods of time in front of a computer screen or while using other digital or electronic devices such as tablets, TV, e-readers, and smartphones. When we have excessive exposure to digital screens, we have a tendency to blink less, which increases the strain on our eyes. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to reduce or eliminate these symptoms.

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What is Blue Light?

Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum emitted by the sun. Proponents of blue light glasses argue that they can reduce the effects of this exposure which they maintain is harmful, causes ocular strain, and impairs sleep. 

Is there any merit to this claim?

Are Blue Light Glasses Effective In Treating Eye Strain?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that a recent study found no evidence suggesting that such light damages our eyes. As a result, they do not recommend such glasses. (There was some evidence linking such light exposure to possible effects on the body's circadian rhythm or “internal clock”).

Most experts reject the unproven claim that blue light emitted by digital devices is excessive enough to cause ocular strain. While these symptoms are certainly uncomfortable, adopting the techniques below will reduce these unpleasant effects. 

There is no reliable evidence to prove the efficacy of such glasses or that such light exposure leads to eye disease. Rather than purchasing such glasses, there are many steps you can take to reduce the effects caused by overuse or misuse of electronic devices.

Are Blue Light Glasses Effective In Treating Eye Strain?
Symptoms or Conditions Related To Computer Vision Syndrome

Symptoms or Conditions Related To Computer Vision Syndrome

Common symptoms from excessive exposure to digital screens include:

  • headaches
  • discomfort
  • difficulty with sleep

Fortunately, with proper corrective measures these are only temporary effects. There is no evidence that long-term exposure causes ill effects on vision or overall optical health.

Symptoms or Conditions Related To Computer Vision Syndrome

Treatment/Homecare Prevention

There are plenty of easy and effective solutions to prevent eye strain. The following techniques have brought relief to many people:

  • Take periodic breaks and move around. Remind yourself to blink.
  • Administer artificial tears to lubricate whenever feel excessive dryness
  • A matte screen filter attached to your computer screen may reduce glare. You can also change your computer settings to accomplish the same.
  • 20-20-20 Rule: Take a break every 20 minutes, where you stare at an object 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds
  • When sitting in front of a digital screen consider wearing glasses rather than contact lenses which causes more drying.
  • Keep the screen at arm's length. Experiment with tilting the computer screen slightly downward to reduce the glare.
  • When possible, limit your exposure to digital devices
  • Reduce your exposure in the evenings to electronic screens. Switch to the night setting on your smartphone. These steps may aid in better sleep.

Common Questions

There are many studies from reputable organizations that find no evidence to support such claims. By following several of the suggestions listed in this article, you will likely reduce your discomfort. Of course, if such discomfort persists, schedule an appointment with a reputable optometrist.
Yes. Smartphones do emit blue light, although the overall amount of light emitted by a cell phone is very minimal. When we go outside during the day our eyes are exposed to tens of thousands of lux of light, lux is a measurement of light that is experienced at the point of measurement. Sunlight is full spectrum, which means that it includes parts of the spectrum of visible light known as High Energy Visible (HEV) Blue Light. When you use your mobile phone the amount of blue light emitted is a tiny percent of the blue light that we would be exposed to by spending a few minutes outside during the day. There is some evidence that suggests that blue light is harmful when exposed at night or close to sleep, particularly a Harvard study that showed that blue light exposure impacts our circadian rhythm, which regulates our bodies production of melatonin and therefore our sleep. While the amount of blue light emitted from a cell phone is probably far too little to impact the health of our retina, it may be harmful to our sleep and therefore detrimental to our overall health. Many phones have a night mode that automatically reduces the level of blue light emitted, this is always a good idea when looking at mobile devices at night. While the science of blue filtering lenses is still undecided, many optometrists are of the opinion that the potential benefits are worth the extra caution. Note that not all blue filtering lenses filter out the same amount of blue light or the same frequencies, speak with our optometrists about the best options for your needs.
Eye Strain and Blue Light
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Treating Computer Vision Syndrome

Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum, and most of our exposure to it comes from the sun. Most experts reject the claim that it causes eye strain and that special protective glasses can reduce these effects. There is no conclusive evidence to prove these assertions or to suggest that special glasses can reduce these symptoms. By adopting better habits, you can reduce these effects, without resorting to buying glasses whose purported efficacy is questionable and unproven. Contact us today to find out more about how to reduce and prevent eye strain.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

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Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

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Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

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Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

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The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

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