Glasses that filter out blue light are one of the hottest trends in eyewear right now. You can buy both sunglasses and clear lenses that filter out the blue light generated by smartphones, computers, and LCD TVs. Indeed, the concept of filtering blue light is so hot from a marketing standpoint that it is beginning to take on a life of its own. Blue light filtering is now promoted as being just as important as UV filtering.
Companies wishing to produce blue light filtering sunglasses are completely within their rights to do so. People who want to buy those sunglasses are free to do so as well. But is all the hype much ado about nothing? Perhaps. But until we know the actual facts of blue light on the eyes, consumers are better off being circumspect. Shelling out hundreds of dollars on a pair of sunglasses in hopes of them protecting you against blue light may constitute money down the drain.
Before you go out and buy a pair of blue light filtering sunglasses, you might want to ask and answer the following three questions:
1. Is blue light really a problem?
We live in an era age of excessive and extemporaneous information. Anyone can go online and make any statement under the sun without much regard for whether the statement is true or not. Even worse, there are legions of people who believe everything they read online. You know the joke: it’s online, so it must be true!
In recent months there have been plenty of media reports warning of the supposed dangers of blue light. But according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Celia Vimont and Dr. Rahul Khurana, the evidence is just not there. There is no scientific research that even remotely suggests blue light contributes to cataracts, macular degeneration, cancer, et al.
The pair does acknowledge that spending long hours in front of a computer screen or smartphone does cause eye strain and discomfort. But they insist it is not blue light is causing the problem; it’s the size of the screens and how those screens are being used by consumers.
2. How is blue light filtering accomplished?
The second question to ask is how a particular pair of sunglasses actually accomplishes filtering. There are two ways to filter blue light, according to Utah-based Olympic Eyewear. The first is to either tint the lens (usually yellow) or put a tinted coating over the top of it. The second method is to embed the filtering in the lens itself.
Neither method is necessarily better than the other in terms of effectiveness. But there are drawbacks to the first method, including turning the whole world yellow and, as a result, disrupting normal vision. This can lead to eyestrain as well. Furthermore, a tinted coating applied to the lens surface can wear off or be scratched.
3. How often will I actually use them?
Finally, ask yourself how often you will actually use your blue light filtering sunglasses to actually filter blue light. Remember that sunglasses are used primarily outdoors. If you need the special shades because you are constantly using your smartphone, perhaps a bigger concern is that you cannot put your phone away long enough to enjoy outdoor activities.
Blue light filtering sunglasses are likely to become a lot more popular before they start leveling off. Whether or not that is a good thing remains to be seen. As a consumer, just don’t run out and buy a pair because everyone else is doing it. Apply some critical thinking first.