Blue-Light Glasses Probably Don't Reduce Eyestrain or Improve Sleep, Study Says

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In recent years, patients with eye strain and trouble sleeping have been increasingly prescribed blue-light filtering glasses. However, according to a new study, blue-light filtering glasses likely make no difference to eye health or sleep quality.

Published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the study reviewed 17 randomized trials on the efficacy of blue-light filtering lenses and found no evidence that the lenses protect against damage to light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye, known as the retina. The review was led by researchers at the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, who set out to compare the effects of blue-light and non-blue-light filtering glasses on improving visual performance, providing protection to the retina, and increasing sleep quality.

The trials analyzed came from six different counties, and their number of participants ranged from five to 156 people. The time frames for the investigations ranged from one day to five weeks. After review, the studies showed little evidence that blue-light filtering glasses had additional benefits compared to non-blue-light filtering glasses.

“We found there may be no short-term advantages with using blue-light filtering spectacle lenses to reduce visual fatigue associated with computer use, compared to non-blue-light filtering lenses,” said Laura Downie, PhD, Head of the Downie Laboratory: Anterior Eye, Clinical Trials and Research Translation Unit, at the University of Melbourne. “It is also currently unclear whether these lenses affect vision quality or sleep-related outcomes, and no conclusions could be drawn about any potential effects on retinal health in the longer term. People should be aware of these findings when deciding whether to purchase these spectacles.”

Notably, Downie explained that few studies have explored the long-term effects of blue-light filtering lenses. “Our certainty in the reported findings should be interpreted in the context of the quality of the available evidence. The short follow-up period also affected our ability to consider potential longer-term outcomes,” she said.

According to the study's authors, the review also found no consistent reports of adverse side effects from using blue-light filtering lenses. To truly understand the impacts of blue-light filtering glasses, the authors said more long-term studies are needed.

"High-quality, large clinical research studies with longer follow-up in more diverse populations are still required to ascertain more clearly the potential effects of blue-light filtering spectacle lenses on visual performance, sleep, and eye health,” said the review’s first author, Sumeer Singh, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Downie Laboratory. “They should examine whether efficacy and safety outcomes vary between different groups of people and using different types of lenses.”