Computers and blue light

  • Do you work with a computer?
  • Are your eyes tired at the end of the day?
  • Did you know that the problem is not entirely related to the blue light?

Do you seek a solution to a problem with tired eyes, or just looking for protection against blue light?

Here is all you need to know:

Your eyes get tired while working with a computer because they are working hard at a close distance for longer periods than what they’re meant to. In order to alleviate their load, you need to work with the right power (diopter) for the close distance. If your glasses are plano (no power), just the filter will not help you and the late-night fatigue will remain.

However, if you have no complaints with your eyes, you may have heard of the blue filter glasses for computer screen protection. They make a little sense because, even though they protect your eyes from a small portion of the blue light that your screen emits, the screen itself is a negligible source of harmful blue light – the main source of which is the sun.

What is the problem with computer screens really?

Today people spend 8-10 a day in front of a computer screen and after that a few more hours with a smartphone. Such an intensive workload often leads to discomfort at the end of the day, such as tiredness, dry eyes, sometimes pain in or around the eyes, headache, even your vision may become worse at night. This modern problem is called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

What is CVS?

When a person who sees well is looking at a far distance (in the context of vision, ‘far’ is 5-6m to infinity) their eyes are in a relaxed state. When they look at their phone, the eye muscles contract.

This natural mechanism is called accommodation. During our evolution, the accommodation has allowed humans to see close when they work with their hands. But with recent revolution in our daily life, while people are working more at offices and home, they suddenly require a lot more from their eyes’ muscles, which never before had to work so much, staring at distances of 40-60cm for a whole day. This results in overstrain, which leads to all aforementioned complaints. In some cases, even a muscle spasm may occur. This condition is also known as accommodative spasm and is characterized by distance vision acuity decrease. Don’t worry, it’s not that bad and is temporary – it passes by itself after you take a long rest, although sometimes it might hold for days.

Tired eyes are a real obstacle between you and productiviy

You’re getting the idea, right? In the morning you sit on your desk with your eyes well-rested, at noon you start remembering about the rule of regular rest every hour, that you keep forgetting, and early afternoon you start rubbing your eye because you feel them. It doesn’t hurt yet, but you feel them. In the evening you get off the computer happy that you don’t have to look at it at least until tomorrow, but 2 hours later you’re already 30mins into social networking on your phone.

What is the solution?

As the main reason for CVS is the lack of correct diopter, the solution is the correct diopter. For that, you need to have an eye exam and determine the right kind of glasses powers for computer distance.

Why are computer protection glasses not a solution?

In the last decade, the ‘blue filters’ have become super popular in glasses. They vary between colorless absorption filters, blue reflective filters, and even the so-called ‘gaming glasses’ which come in yellow tint; all of these filter out some small portion of the harmful part of the spectrum – between 10% and 35% of the blue-violet light between 415nm and 455nm.

This kind of glasses achieve 2 things:

  1. By filtering out some of the blue, they deliver a more yellowish picture to the eyes. This increases the comfort for the eyes, as warmer light is more pleasant; but you can achieve the same by changing the settings of your screen or through an additional application, and also by purchasing warm white light bulbs for your home and office. Keep in mind that too much comfortable warm light makes you sleepy. In offices, cold white is usually used not only because it’s cheaper, but also to keep workers awake and their brains at full potential. Warm light is usually used in bars.
  2. A correlation between blue-violet light and AMD – has been proven, so reducing the amount of this light, reduces the risk of this disease. AMD is an eye condition most often found in people over 65yo and may lead to vision loss, which is an extremely solid argument towards buying blue filter glasses immediately. However, here are some additional facts so you get the full picture:
    • Other major risk factors for AMD are smoking, poor diet, obesity, and genetics;
    • These glasses usually filter only 1/5 from the harmful blue light;
    • The main source of this light is the sun, which emits 1000s times more of it, comparing to a computer screen (and no one bats an eye);
    • The effect of blue light is cumulative. During your whole life every minute you are exposed to it, its harmful effect is accumulated. This means that if you are thinking about devoting yourself to protecting yourself against it, then you should start with sunglasses that offer protection against it (which is super rare). The computer glasses come second by importance.

In conclusion

If you have any eye-related complaints from computer use, we will find a solution to your problem and it will be with adequate prescription glasses. Of course, these glasses could have a blue filter on them – why not. For that, please book an appointment here.

If you have no complaints whatsoever but you are concerned about harmful blue light, there are a few different solutions:

  • Sunglasses which offer the best kind of blue light protection. The only such brand that we know of for the moment is Vuarnet, which filter up to 99% of the harmful blue light;
  • A coating for clear lenses. We recommend only the best – Crizal Prevencia by Essilor, which reflects 20% of the harmful blue, meaning they will ‘shine’ with blue-violet on the front surface;
  • Integrated colorless protection (not coating), which absorbs 20% of blue. This is still rare, offered by Essilor in some special lens materials or the Transitions photochromic lenses,
  • For maximum protection in non-sunglasses, a combination of absorbing material + reflective coating is possible, resulting in ~35% protection.