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Do Blue Light Glasses Actually Do Anything?

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Blue light is a controversial topic. People claim it causes insomnia, damages the eyes, and can affect proper eye growth. But there’s no actual evidence that the light that emanates from screens and other light sources, like the sun, poses a threat to ocular health. 

An August 2023 review published in the Cochrane Library on blue-light filtering lenses didn’t draw concrete conclusions they help reduce eye strain or fatigue. Multiple optometrists, and physicians with sleep expertise, told SPY that not only is the evidence mixed that blue light glasses actually filter out anything, but that blue light exposure during the day is helpful for our circadian rhythm. 

“In the day you want all the blue light to go into your eyes because that’s a signal for wakefulness. As long as you are awake, don’t block blue light during the day. There are some studies that show it energizes some individuals,” said Dr. Abhinav Singh, an internal medicine physician and medical director for the Indiana Sleep Center.  

He also referenced a statement from the American Academy of Ophthalmology that reflects a lack of concrete evidence that blue light glasses help with glare, eye strain, or any other ailments related to eye health. 

This begs the question: Do blue light glasses actually do anything? 

The term “blue light glasses” yields over 100,000 searches a month on Google. A quick perusal on Amazon reveals hundreds of brands selling the enhanced lenses. Prescription lens proprietors Warby Parker and Pair Eyewear offer blue-light add-ons for a price. 

Filtering out blue light sounds like it would make hours glued to a screen healthier, or help one sleep at night, but the advice from experts is mixed regarding both of those things. 

“There’s a thought that because it’s a shorter wavelength, meaning a higher intensity light, that blue light can damage the eyes. But there really hasn’t been evidence that the blue light blockers will make any difference,” said New York-based optometrist Dr. William Hogue

Blue light doesn’t just come from screens, it’s a spectrum of light that radiates from the sun alongside the full spectrum of visual light. Wearing sunglasses while outdoors and protecting the eyes from super bright light is important, but there’s no inherent harm in blue light, Hogue said. 

“The thing I like to tell my patients is that when you go outside you’re exposed to about 100 times more intense blue light than looking at your computer screen, and so the idea that [blue light glasses] would have any kind of benefit on peoples’ feelings of eye fatigue is a little misguided because the intensity is very minimal in comparison to other sources of light,” said Dr. Hogue. 

He went on to say that blue light exposure, especially during waking hours when the sun is up, is helpful. 

“Blue light has been found to control the melatonin and dopamine levels in your brain, and it’s important for the circadian rhythm,” said Dr. Hogue. “That’s why we really don’t want to disrupt the blue light, especially during the day, because it helps to make sure that the circadian rhythm is working as it should.” 

Singh corroborated this statement and explained that retina ganglion cells within the eye signal to the body to produce melatonin in response to blue light, so exposure during the day and limiting it at night is important for sleep. 

Hogue also noted that the discomfort and feeling of eye strain that comes from sitting in front of a screen all day isn’t due to blue light, but rather other behavioral shifts that screens cause within the eye. Aside from making sure one has an up-to-date glasses prescription, folks also need to be aware of ocular dryness, according to Hogue. 

“We blink about 40% less than we normally would when we’re staring at a computer screen. And so the oil glands within your eyelids don’t express as they should,” said Dr. Hogue. “It leads to this feeling of irritation or a dull ache. But what feels like strain is really just the dryness from the poor tear film that’s a result of not blinking enough.” 

Dr. Jen Tsai, another New York-based optometrist and founder of Line of Sight Vision noted that “current studies are inconclusive on whether or not blue light from screentime is harmful for our eyes.” 

“It’s also uncertain if wearing blue light glasses helps reduce long-term eye health damage. I tell my patients that there certainly is no downside to wearing blue light glasses, however, because it’s simply a coating to help reduce pain and aid in comfort,” said Dr. Tsai. 

Dr. Hogue also echoed this sentiment; while he thinks it’s important for patients to be informed of the data (or lack thereof) surrounding blue light glasses and their effectiveness, there’s no harm in wearing them.

“Patients are free to make their own decisions, and if they feel like it’s helpful or they’ve heard from their friends that they feel a lot better after using blue light-blocking glasses and want to try it, I’m not going to tell them not to.” 

A lack of data is a significant deterrent within certain health contexts, but it’s also critical to consider how a certain product’s financial potential impacts its library of data. There’s less money to be made from light-blocking lenses than certain pharmaceuticals. And anecdotal evidence from coworkers, friends, or parents can be worth something. 

How to Shop for, and Wear, Blue Light Glasses

Dr. Tsai said that anybody looking for blue light lenses should make sure they can filter the entire range of blue light from 410-460 nanometers. She also said that your local optometrist is a great resource if one is unsure whether their lenses can actually block blue light. 

Dr. Hogue said that a variety of light, including blue light, is beneficial for the eyes. Wearing blue light glasses at the end of the work day is fine, but regularly spending time in nature and staring at items close up and far away is critical for eye health. 

“Studies have shown that spending time outdoors, even 20 minutes a day, prevents the development of nearsightedness. When you’re outside, the light intensity is 100 times more than your screen, and so that rich visual diet of intense light is driving proper eye growth,” said Dr. Hogue. 

“All that’s to say that light getting into your eyes is very important.” 

The Best Blue Light Glasses, Picked by SPY Editors

Honeywell Uvex Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Honeywell Uvex Blue Light Blocking Glasses

These blue light glasses have an orange tint designed to block 98% of blue light from laptops and computers, and they help with cataracts and macular degeneration. The orange hue also creates a color contrast for a sharper view of the screen and may help the eyes strain less. The lenses have three viewing positions so screens can be viewed optimally from different angles and the temple fit is adjustable so they won’t squeeze most heads. 

GlassesUSA Muse Elliott Blue Light Blocking Lenses

GlassesUSA Muse Elliott Blue Light Blocking Lenses

GlassesUSA is a SPY editor favorite for its stylish lenses that come with blue light-blocking capabilities. The Elliott makes the classic 1950s Browline style modern again with sleek arms, silver accents, and a variety of color options. 

Warby Parker Earle Lenses

Warby Parker Earle Lenses

All of Warby Parker’s lenses can be equipped with blue light filtering. These stylish frames are known as Earle and come in a polished tortoise with gold accents and a more neutral crystal color with Riesling touches. 


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