Are Blue Light Glasses A Complete Waste Of Time?

A new study casts doubt on the trend of avoiding blue light

Gideon M-K; Health Nerd


Pictured: Stock photo of a guy wearing glasses. Almost certainly not even blue light glasses. At least it’s a good photo. Photo by Fábio Lucas on Unsplash

Blue light is one of the many things that hits the headlines often, because it is both a symptom of the modernity and also a thing that is vaguely theorized to be potentially bad for you. We all love to hate something we invented only decades ago.

One of the newest healthcare fads is blocking blue light — yes, literally just light that is blue — and one of the faddiest ways to do this is using glasses. But recent headlines popping up around the globe have argued that actually these glasses are totally ineffective.

So let’s take a look at the data, and see whether there is much reason to stick odd-looking glasses on your face to protect from certain parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The Science

The idea that blue light is bad comes largely from the fact that it isn’t natural. In the natural world, the only blue light you get is from the sun, which puts out the entire gamut of colours. So if you see blue at a time when humans wouldn’t naturally get any in their eyeballs — say, at night, when the sun isn’t around — it’s unnatural and therefore problematic. There’s also a theory that blue light causes additional strain on your eyes, because you wouldn’t naturally get a lot of it if you were living cheerfully in the Paleolithic era.

Hilariously, what comes up when you search Paleolithic on stock photo websites is a whole host of things that simply DID NOT EXIST at that time. Charcuterie is a particularly funny example. Photo by Kim Daniels on Unsplash

This has led to a slew of products aimed at preventing you from getting blue light into the brain. They range from expensive phone screen overlays to simple settings changes on your devices that can stop them from emitting certain parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. But blue light can come from many things — such as your normal household lighting, and so one fad is to wear blue light blocking glasses.

The new study that’s making headlines is a review by the Cochrane Collaboration. I’ve talked about Cochrane before, but they are basically the gold-standard for the appraisal of evidence in medical interventions. If you want to know if something works, you go to the Cochrane Database of…