Curious why so many of your friends with perfect vision are now wearing glasses? It’s because of that nefarious blue light. Blue light blocking glasses claim to keep your eyes safe from a mysterious form of light emitted by digital screens like your smartphone and laptop, but do they actually work, and if so, do you actually need them?
The Stoggles team collected the scientific evidence and did the heavy Googling for you. We’ve got everything you need to know about what blue light is, what it can do to your eyes, and how a simple pair of clear blue light glasses could prevent eye discomfort while promoting eye health.
First, let’s talk about how the eye works, so we can better understand the influence blue light has on the structures inside your eye.
How Do Eyes Work?
The eyes are seriously complex. They work like the highest-end cameras, but better. Eyes have the ability to take in light and autofocus it with precision so that we can see even minute details with ease.
These structures in your eye make it possible for the light around you to be interpreted as sight:
- Cornea. The cornea is a dome-shaped window that collects light and sends it back to the lens.
- Lens. The lens works like a camera, focusing the light collected by the cornea and sending it back to the rear of your eye, where the retina is located. The iris operates within the lens, regulating how much light your eye takes in.
- Retina. This is where sight happens. The retina contains millions of retinal cells, which take the light it receives from the lens and sends it to the brain via the optic nerve.
- Brain. Literally the brains of the operation. The brain then interprets the light into vision.
This entire, intricate process happens in milliseconds (13 milliseconds, to be exact). This process happens continuously and doesn’t even stop with blinking or when you close your eyes, as your eyes are still able to collect light received through your eyelids.
This is a very basic synopsis of how vision happens, and there are numerous other structures involved in the process.
One we will focus on is the macula:
The macula is part of the retina that is responsible for the majority of our central vision, detailed vision, and color vision. So basically, 90% of your vision. It’s incredibly small and very important. Photoreceptor cells located in the macula send signals to the brain via the optic nerve to help you see what is in front of you in detail.
The remainder of the retina gives us our peripheral vision. As such, damage to the macula results in damage to our vision, which can often result in vision loss.
Macular disease causes central vision loss that usually isn’t repairable. Macular degeneration is an example of this type of macula injury. Macular degeneration occurs when the macula is damaged or worn, causing a loss in eyesight that is generally gradual. There are two types of macular degeneration.
- Dry macular degeneration. This is the most common type of macular degeneration, which is usually caused by the harm done to the macula over time. This is typically found in elderly individuals.
- Wet macular degeneration. This is a less common and more aggressive form of macular degeneration. This type of macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels develop behind the macula and leak blood and fluid into the area, which then collects on the macula and damages it.
While the elderly have the highest risk of eye diseases, they aren't the only ones who are susceptible. Certain diseases, heredity, and exposure, and sensitivity to external stressors can also cause you to be at higher risk for developing this eye disease.
When our eyes struggle to see, corrective lenses help keep our vision possible. However, not all eye conditions can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Sometimes, vision loss is permanent.
Retinal cells are not able to regenerate like other cells in our body. That means when damage is done to the macula and to the photosensory cells located there, vision loss is not reversible. This is why it’s crucial to protect the retina from sources of light that could damage it.
Not all light is harmful to your eyes, but understanding which types are is crucial in learning how to protect your vision.
Light and light wavelengths are complicated and massive. There’s more light circulating around you than what you can actually see. The majority of light, in fact, is not visible. The portion of the electromagnetic light spectrum that is visible to the human eye is about 0.0035%.
Radiating light waves are classified into seven different groups: radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma-rays. Radio waves are long, low energy waves, while the opposite end of the spectrum contains gamma rays, which are the shortest and most energetic waves.
Now let’s talk about where blue light falls on the spectrum and how our eyes respond to it.
Blue light is located in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum. It’s most closely related to ultraviolet light, and as such, is sometimes mistaken as invisible. Ultraviolet rays, or “UV” rays, are the rays that can burn our skin.
Sources of Blue Light
Even though your blue light glasses-wearing friends have probably told you that the largest source of blue light comes from your smartphone, that simply isn’t true. The sun is the largest source of blue light.
Your friends aren’t completely wrong with their concern for your eyes and your smartphone. Blue light is also emitted from tablets, computers, smartphones, LED light bulbs, LED televisions, compact fluorescent light bulbs, welding equipment, and some medical devices.
This is why blue light is thought to be more pervasive to the eyes than UV rays; we’re exposed to blue wavelengths for longer periods of time due to our use of technology.
Is All Blue Light Bad?
No. Just like ultraviolet rays aren’t all bad, not all blue light is bad. UV rays get a bad rap because they’re directly linked to photoaging and skin cancer, but we also need UV rays to power our planet and our bodies.
For instance, during the daytime, Vitamin D is created through the synthesis of cholesterol in the skin when it absorbs sunlight.
In the same way, blue light can be beneficial.
- Helps us stay alert
- Helps assist with cognitive function and memory retention
- Gives our mood a boost and may help alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression
- Can help us wake up in the morning after a night of sleep through melatonin production
Blue light isn’t inherently bad, but because of technological advances that cause a lot of us to use blue-light emitting screens for both work and pleasure, we’re simply more exposed to it than we ever have been.
Why Is Blue Light a Concern?
The real issue with blue light, aside from the amount of exposure we have, is that we are exposed without protection, and we need that protection because blue light penetrates our eyes.
All visible light penetrates our eyes, passing through the cornea, through the lens, and going directly back to the retina and macula. That means, if damaging light rays pass through to the macula and retina, there’s potential for damage.
We already protect our eyes from UV rays. Sunglasses shield our eyes from glare but also offer UV protection. This means your sunglasses filter out harmful UV light so that it doesn't make it to your retina.
Your sunglasses do not protect your eyes from penetration by blue light unless they are specifically designed to do so. That means blue light is getting a free pass to your retina every time you open your phone, walk outside, turn on your computer, or do just about anything in your normal daily life.
Blue Light Damage
The study of blue light and how it affects our eyes is still relatively new. There are numerous ongoing studies to determine exactly what long-term blue light exposure means for our eyesight.
Here’s what we know it can do so far:
- Digital Eye Strain/Computer Vision Syndrome. You’ve likely experienced tired, red, dry eyes, headaches, and muscle aches from arching over a computer screen or entertainment system for hours on end. The result of starting at screens too long is a real medical condition called Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS.
One of the hallmarks of CVS is symptoms of digital eye strain. When we look at screens, we blink less than we normally do, allowing our eyes to become drier and more irritated. This is why your eyes feel tired, look red, and even feel painful and itchy if you’ve spent too much time looking at a screen.
- Trouble falling asleep. Your sleep is regulated by your circadian rhythm, which responds to light cues in your environment. Afternoon and evening dimmed lighting signal your pineal gland to release melatonin and prepare you for sleep.
The Effect on Sleep Cycles
Staring at screens in the evening can interfere with your circadian rhythm and trick your body into believing it isn’t as late as it actually is. This can interfere with your ability to fall asleep at bedtime and wake up at regular times.
Possible retinal damage. If the eye strain and sleep issues aren’t enough to convince you of the seriousness of blue light’s risk, there’s evidence that blue light could cause permanent damage to your retinal cells.
Some researchers suggest there’s even reason to believe that prolonged exposure to blue light could lead to early-onset macular degeneration. That means permanent vision loss.
The evidence is piling up, and it points in one direction: the need for blue light reflective glasses. Simply wearing a pair of blue light blocking glasses while exposed to blue light can help you avoid eye fatigue, sleepless nights, and possible damage to your retinal cells.
How Do Blue Light Glasses Work?
The glasses your friends wear look like mostly clear glasses, but the trick is in the coating. Blue light glasses are coated with a special anti-reflective or “AR” coating, just like some UV protective glasses.
This coating reflects blue light that hits the glasses, sending it away so that it doesn’t penetrate your eyes. And don’t worry, blue light blocking glasses doesn’t interfere with your perception of color.
Blue light blocking glasses are available with or without a glasses prescription and having blue light block AR coating won’t interfere with your corrective lenses’ ability to help you see clearly.
Are They Hero or Hype?
We get it. Clear lenses that magically protect you from light you can barely see… sounds a little unbelievable. However, blue light is a real, measurable form of light that researchers know is collected by your eye.
A simple coated lens is all it takes to protect your eyes from blue light. Because we don’t yet know the amount of damage blue light is capable of producing, it makes sense to protect our eyes now.
Who Should Wear Blue Light Glasses?
You might not think you need blue light glasses, especially if you aren’t in front of a computer every day, but we’d challenge you to measure your screen time, both from digital devices and from televisions, and to also monitor other areas of your home and work that could be exposing you to blue light.
Everyone can benefit from wearing blue light blocking glasses.
- Office workers and computer users
- Welders and construction personnel who work around welding equipment and who are also outdoors
- Kids who use tablets and computers for entertainment and schoolwork
- College Students
- Medical professionals
- Workers who spend time outdoors like land surveyors, lawn, and maintenance personnel
In short, there’s nowhere to hide from the far reaches of blue light, but you can exist with it peacefully by shielding your eyes with blue light blocking glasses.
How To Buy Blue Light Glasses
Every drugstore has its own version, but just like the quality of their reading glasses, you get what you pay for. Stoggles believes vision protection should be a total package. It’s why we’ve taken such care to create glasses that protect your eyes in a style you can feel comfortable wearing daily.
For the ultimate in blue light and vision protection, here are the features your blue light lenses should have.
While we’re protecting ourselves from blue light, let’s go ahead and tackle ultraviolet light. We have volumes of research on the damage UV rays can do to our eyes, including burning them. Even in winter months, it’s crucial to protect your eyes from UV glare from the snow and ice (which can result in a nasty condition called photokeratitis, or “snow blindness.”)
UV protection isn’t about the darkness of your sunglasses but rather the level of reflection your glasses offer for UV rays. Every pair of Stoggles, for instance, are made from polycarbonate, which is naturally UV blocking.
UV damage can leave your eyes feeling dry, irritated, red, and painful for a few days with an acute injury. Cumulative damage over time can cause permanent changes in your vision that can’t be corrected.
Side and Top Shields
Ever notice how there’s a giant gap on the side of each of your eyeglass lenses? There’s also a nice gap at the top of your frames, near your eyebrow. These areas of vulnerability allow debris, fumes, pollen, splatters, and everything else flying around to enter your field of vision and potentially enter your eye.
Top and side shields cover the gaps and protect your eyes. Because vision is so important and vision loss is so permanent, it’s a smart choice to grab glasses that offer all-around protection.
This is especially important for:
- Home improvement
- Cleaning with chemicals
- Contact sports
- Medical settings
- Construction work
There are nearly 2,000 eye-related injuries per year, and most of those injuries could have been prevented simply by wearing safety glasses with side and top shields. Wearing them means you don’t have to become part of that statistic.
We hate foggy lenses. They’re dangerous, distracting, and absolutely annoying. Taking the time to remove your glasses to wipe away condensation is a big problem. It takes you off task, which makes your work take longer, and it leaves your eyes temporarily vulnerable to injury when they’re removed.
The biggest side effect with foggy lenses is that eventually, you’ll likely just stop wearing them. They become so irritating and so distracting that frustration leads you to simply leave them off. Well, now you aren’t protected against blue light or any debris that could enter your eye.
Anti-fog lenses prevent fog from collecting on the lenses of your glasses no matter what kind of environment you’re in. This allows you to continue working or playing without stopping to do the shirt-wipe shuffle.
We can’t talk about eye protection without talking about impact resistance. If you have great glasses with blue light blocking technology but don’t have impact resistance, you risk having your glasses shatter if they’re struck with an object.
You may not think you need impact resistance, but consider this: it only takes one foam, toy gun pellet to the eye to result in a retinal concussion. If you were to be struck with a pebble or any other object heavier than a foam pellet, the resulting injury would be far worse.
Stoggles safety glasses are all impact resistant based on ANSI Z87.1 certifications, the industry standard for shatter resistance.
Your blue light blocking glasses have to be comfortable; if they aren’t, you won’t wear them (kind of like those pants in the back of your closet). The best way to establish whether or not your glasses will be comfortable is to ensure they meet the three-point fit rule.
Your glasses should only touch your face at three specific points:
- The bridge of the nose
- Above the left ear
- Above the right ear
These points shouldn’t pinch or feel tight, and your glasses shouldn’t feel like they squeeze or cause pressure on your head or face. Alternatively, glasses shouldn’t slip either. If you cannot look doward without your glasses falling off, you don’t have a good fit.
We’d be lying if we said style wasn’t important. No one wants to feel uncomfortable in their glasses, and a style you love goes hand in hand with total comfort. That’s why Stoggles were created: to combine form and function in safety glasses that protect as good as they look.
Our glasses are available in two different sizes, two different shapes, and in numerous colors to fit your personal style or match your outfit. You’ll never have to settle for eye protection that gives you high school biology class vibes. Stoggles glasses have a streamlined design that are perfect for wearing everywhere.
Blue Light Glasses, But Make Them Iconic
Want blue light protection in a pair of safety glasses that you’ll want to wear all day? Done. Stoggles has you covered, and if you wear corrective lenses, we can make Stoggles with your prescription too. We handle your prescriptions in-house to save you time and money.
Blue light can cause digital eye strain, interfere with your sleep patterns, and even cause eye damage. Suit up with Stoggles, and keep your eyes (and your style) safe.
Sources:Visible Light: Eye-opening research at NNSA | U.S. Department of Energy