Photo by John Adams on Unsplash

I’m often asked by patients about the benefit of blue light glasses. Proponents of blue light filtering glasses make claims of decreasing the risks for a number of eye diseases, including cataracts and macular degeneration.

However, there is little science to back up the claims. A remarkable expose by CBC took an undercover reporter to various national optical chains. This secret shopper was met with sales pitches that touted the benefits of blue light filtering glasses, including one which claimed that the blue light filtering glasses prevented cancer. The up-charge of $20 to $100 was especially concerning.

Wills Eye Hospital colleague and retina specialist Sunir Garg, MD, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, expertly critiqued the hidden-camera claims made. This is video which is well worth a 12 minute investment and includes an optics analysis by Oxford University Professor John O’Hagan. Professor O’Hagen is at the Public Health England’s centre for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards. (Also see an excellent article in The Guardian here.)

Patients concerned with blue light and eye disease may wish to review an EyeSmart article, “Blue Light and Digital Eye Strain” from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The AAO article states:

  • 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.

My advice is that blue light filtering glasses should go the way of the Kmart Blue Light Special … back into extinction.

“Attention Kmart Shoppers!” Kmart Blue Special last flashed in 1991! (Revived intermittently since 2001 according to Wikipedia. See also new4jax.com)