Studies Show You Don’t Need Fancy Eyewear to Protect Your Sight from Extended Screen Use
Blue light-filtering glasses sound like the perfect solution to computer eye strain. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence to support their effectiveness. Systematic reviews of multiple studies, in 2017 and 2021, found no benefits to the lenses. Double-blind clinical trials found no difference between people wearing blue light-filtering glasses and those who weren’t during tasks that varied from twenty minutes to two hours.
In 2022, the scientific journal Sensors published a report on a solution that relies on Fresnel lenses—the lenses used in lighthouses—“to avoid eye fatigue during long-term work close to the eyes.” The Chinese and Ukrainian researchers even created a jazzy sample pair sporting the Ukrainian colors.
Basically, the new lenses make your eyes look at something near as if it were far away. When we work at the computer, we focus both our eyes on one point on the screen. Putting prisms in the lenses bends the light so it becomes parallel instead of hitting your eyes at an angle.
It’s too early to know if prism glasses are the wave of the future. In the absence of a tech solution, what do we do to protect our eyes?
Eye professionals seem to agree on the basics:
1. Keep your eyes hydrated with eye drops if necessary. Keep yourself hydrated too. Surprisingly, coffee may help.
2. Blink (see #1) because screens make us forget. If you wear contact lenses, blinking is even more important. We’re talking a lot of blinking. Participants in one research study blinked for ten seconds every twenty minutes for four weeks.
3. Look into the distance. Go outside and look at the horizon. Give your eyes variety. In one 2016 study, undergraduate nursing students reported less eye fatigue after eight weeks doing eight kinds of exercises: “palming, blinking, sideways viewing, front and sideways viewing, rotational viewing, up and down viewing, preliminary nose tip gazing, and near and distant viewing.”
4. Use glasses with the right focal length for your task if you wear them. Your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone are all at a different distance from your eyes.
Did you think to blink? Good for you!
- Singh, S., Downie, L. E., & Anderson, A. J. (2021). Do Blue-blocking Lenses Reduce Eye Strain From Extended Screen Time? A Double-Masked Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Ophthalmology, 226, 243–251. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajo.2021.02.010
- Le, Zichun, Evhen Antonov, Qiang Mao, Viacheslav Petrov, Yuhui Wang, Wei Wang, Marina Shevkolenko, and Wen Dong. 2022. Anti-Fatigue Glasses Based on Microprisms for Preventing Eyestrain. Sensors 22, no. 5: 1933. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22051933
- Kim S. D. (2016). Effects of yogic eye exercises on eye fatigue in undergraduate nursing students. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 28(6), 1813–1815. https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.28.1813