There's No Evidence That Blue-Light Blocking Glasses Help With Sleep

There's No Evidence That Blue-light Blocking Glasses Help With Sleep There is a lack of good clinical research on the advantages of blue-light filtering lenses. (Shutterstock)

Health products, like detox teas and mood-boosting waters, rely on a lack of neuroscientific knowledge to make their claims. Some of these claims are unsubstantiated, while others are completely made up.

My doctoral research investigates visual processing, but when I look at the big picture, I realize that what I’m really studying are fundamental aspects of brain anatomy, connectivity and communication.

One specific function of the visual system that I have studied during my degree is the blue-light detecting molecule, melanopsin. In humans, melanopsin is seemingly restricted to a group of neurons in the eye, which preferentially target a structure in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus — the body’s clock.

Circadian rhythms

This is where the (true) idea that blue light affects our sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm originates from. And also why many corrective lens producers have started cashing in on blue-light filtering glasses. The most common claims that go along with these lenses is that they will help restore our natural sleep-wake cycle.

Blue-filtering lenses are marketed as a solution to so many other vision problems. There are claims that they protect against a retinal disease called macular degeneration, decrease headaches and ward off eye cancer.

A CBC Marketplace investigation into blue-light lenses.

 Get The Latest From InnerSelf

Blue-light complexity

Ophthalmologists generally agree that there is “a current lack of high-quality clinical evidence to support a beneficial effect with blue‐blocking spectacle lenses for reducing eye fatigue, enhancing sleep quality or preserving macular health in the general population.”

Similar to the workings of any biological system, melanopsin’s contribution to vision is more complicated than it is made out to be.

For example, melanopsin — like other light-sensitive molecules in our eyes — can result in neural activity outside of blue light specifically. Blue is simply where it is most sensitive. So, then, blue light does indeed affect our sleep-wake cycle, but so will other wavelengths of light, to a lesser extent.

But what is the real culprit of the effects of digital screen light on our sleep-wake cycle? Is it necessarily blue light alone or is the problem likely worsened by people commonly staying up late and using their devices?

The science seems to be on the side that is against any substantial effects of blue-light blocking lenses. If you are staying up late anyway, blue-light blocking lenses aren’t proven to provide any help.

Research has shown that one likely cause for eye irritation and fatigue is the time we spend in front of our screens overall, which may decrease the amount of blinking we do.

Fatigued woman using laptop at night The amount of time we spend looking at screens — especially late at night — contributes to eye irritation and fatigue. (Shutterstock)

Filling the gap in clinical research

The problem seems to be not only blue-light filtering lens sellers, but the way in which we talk about findings from research.

As of yet, there is no clinical evidence that supports the benefits of using blue-light filtering lenses. For now, this is another pseudoscience market that’s taken advantage of its consumer base — anyone who uses computers.

Expanding neuroscience literacy should be a public health goal: understanding how the brain and its partner organs — like the eye — work.

For now, keeping our eyes off screens at night and taking frequent breaks from screens is what will contribute most to our eye health and sleep hygiene.The Conversation

About The Author

Tareq Yousef, PhD candidate, Medical Neuroscience, Dalhousie University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Recommended Books: Health

Fresh Fruit CleanseFresh Fruit Cleanse: Detox, Lose Weight and Restore Your Health with Nature's Most Delicious Foods [Paperback] by Leanne Hall.
Lose weight and feel vibrantly healthy while clearing your body of toxins. Fresh Fruit Cleanse offers everything you need for an easy and powerful detox, including day-by-day programs, mouth-watering recipes, and advice for transitioning off the cleanse.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Thrive FoodsThrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health [Paperback] by Brendan Brazier.
Building upon the stress-reducing, health-boosting nutritional philosophy introduced in his acclaimed vegan nutrition guide Thrive, professional Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier now turns his attention to your dinner plate (breakfast bowl and lunch tray too).
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Death by Medicine by Gary NullDeath by Medicine by Gary Null, Martin Feldman, Debora Rasio and Carolyn Dean
The medical environment has become a labyrinth of interlocking corporate, hospital, and governmental boards of directors, infiltrated by the drug companies. The most toxic substances are often approved first, while milder and more natural alternatives are ignored for financial reasons. It's death by medicine.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


follow InnerSelf on


 Get The Latest By Email



InnerSelf Newsletter: September 20, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
The theme of the newsletter this week can be summed up as "you can do it" or more specifically "we can do it!". This is another way of saying "you/we have the power to make a change". The image of…
What Works For Me: "I Can Do It!"
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
The reason I share "what works for me" is that it may work for you as well. If not exactly the way I do it, since we are all unique, some variance of the attitude or method may very well be something…
InnerSelf Newsletter: September 6, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
We see life through the lenses of our perception. Stephen R. Covey wrote: “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.” So this week, we take a look at some…
InnerSelf Newsletter: August 30, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
The roads we are travelling these days are as old as the times, yet are new for us. The experiences we are having are as old as the times, yet they also are new for us. The same goes for the…
When The Truth Is So Terrible It Hurts, Take Action
by Marie T. Russell,
Amidst all the horrors taking place these days, I am inspired by the rays of hope that shine through. Ordinary people standing up for what is right (and against what is wrong). Baseball players,…