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Blue Light Blocking Glasses vs Screen Filters

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedFebruary 29, 2024

With the surge in digital device usage, extended exposure to blue light emitted from screens poses growing concerns over potential impacts like eye strain, headaches, and sleep disruption.

As people seek protective solutions against excessive blue light, two emerging options are gaining attention - blue light blocking glasses and screen filters. Both innovations offer unique mechanisms to shield eyes, but have key differences.

This article provides a helpful comparison of how blue light blocking glasses and screen filters work to reduce blue light exposure from digital devices.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Blue light blocking glasses use special filters in their lenses to either absorb or reflect high-energy blue light wavelengths from 400-450nm emitted by digital screens. They aim to reduce eye strain and sleep disruption.
  • Screen filters work by reducing the amount of blue light emitted from digital screens through physical attachments or software adjustments. This also aims to alleviate eye strain and sleep issues.
  • Research on the effectiveness of blue light blocking glasses in improving vision, eye strain, and sleep is inconclusive, with some studies showing no significant benefits. More research is still needed.
  • Similarly, the effectiveness of screen filters in reducing eye strain or improving sleep quality has not been conclusively proven and may depend on factors like screen time and light sensitivity.
  • Blue light blocking glasses are portable and adapt well across different devices, but their tint may affect visual clarity and color perception in bright environments. Screen filters are more device-specific.
  • Blue light blocking glasses range widely in cost from around $30 to $100, depending on brand, features, and quality. Screen filters also vary in pricing based on size, type etc.
  • The American Academy of Ophthalmology does not recommend blue light blocking glasses due to insufficient evidence that blue light harms eyes. Eyestrain is more likely due to other factors.
  • While marketed as protective solutions, more research is still needed to establish the clear benefits of both blue light blocking glasses and screen filters for digital eye strain and sleep.

1. How They Work

Both these technologies offer unique ways to shield our eyes, but how do they actually work? Here are the mechanisms behind these innovations and understand their role in safeguarding our vision.

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Blue light blocking glasses are designed to filter out high-energy visible (HEV) light, specifically in the wavelength range of 400 nm to 450 nm, which is emitted by digital screens. These glasses use special filter technology in their lenses to either absorb or reflect blue light. There are two main types of filtering technologies:

  • Blue-light-reflecting lenses: These can appear bluish and are capable of blocking around 10% of blue light.
  • Blue-light-absorbing lenses: These often feature a yellow or amber tint and are more effective, blocking at least 35% of blue light. Some can filter up to 98% of blue light, but they may cause a reddish-brown color distortion, similar to a sepia-toned effect.

The effectiveness of blue light blocking glasses in reducing eye strain and improving sleep quality is still a matter of debate. While some users report benefits, scientific studies offer mixed results on their effectiveness in reducing digital eye strain and improving sleep quality.

Screen Filters

Screen filters work to reduce the amount of blue light emitted from digital screens. These filters can be physical screen attachments or software-based solutions. Physical screen filters are applied directly onto the screen and alter the light emitted by the screen. Software-based solutions, on the other hand, modify the color output of the display to reduce blue light emission.

Both types of screen filters aim to reduce the high-energy blue light wavelengths (400-440 nm) that are known to cause eye strain and disrupt sleep cycles. By modifying the light emitted from the screen, these filters help in reducing the intensity of blue light reaching the user's eyes. This can potentially alleviate symptoms associated with prolonged screen use, such as eye strain and disruption to the sleep cycle.

2. Effectiveness in Blocking Blue Light

When it comes to protecting our eyes from the potentially harmful effects of blue light, both blue light blocking glasses and screen filters have been marketed as effective solutions. But how well do they actually perform?

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Research has indicated that while blue light blocking glasses can filter out certain wavelengths of blue light, they may not significantly improve vision performance, reduce digital eye strain, or enhance sleep quality.

The effectiveness of these glasses in alleviating eyestrain and discomfort from using digital devices, as well as in improving sleep quality when used in the evening, has not been conclusively proven in studies. In fact, since the level of blue light emitted by digital devices is significantly less than that of natural sunlight, and eyestrain hasn't been found to be directly related to blue light, the benefits of blue light blocking glasses in these aspects remain uncertain​​.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) does not recommend blue light-blocking glasses due to the lack of scientific evidence that blue light is damaging to the eyes. The AAO suggests that issues like eyestrain are more likely due to other factors, such as not blinking enough or focusing too long on screens, rather than the blue light itself​​.

Screen Filters

The effectiveness of screen filters in blocking blue light to reduce eye strain or improve sleep quality is not clear.

Like blue light blocking glasses, the overall effectiveness of screen filters in these areas might be influenced by factors such as the amount of screen time and the individual's sensitivity to light.

3. Versatility and Adaptability to Different Environments

With the increasing reliance on digital devices in various settings, it's important to consider the adaptability and versatility of blue light protection solutions. Below is a comparison of the flexibility of blue light blocking glasses and screen filters across different environments and device types.

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Blue light blocking glasses are versatile and portable, making them suitable for various settings, including:

  • Home
  • Office
  • Outdoor environments

They adapt well across different types of digital screens, such as computers, smartphones, and tablets, offering a consistent level of blue light filtering regardless of the device used. However, their effectiveness can vary depending on the specific technology used in the glasses and the amount of blue light emitted by different screens.

One limitation of these glasses is their performance under different lighting conditions. In brightly lit environments or outdoors, the tint of the lenses might affect color perception and visual clarity, which could be a drawback for some users.

Screen Filters

Screen filters are more device-specific compared to blue light blocking glasses. Physical screen filters are designed for particular screens and are not portable, making them less versatile than glasses.

They are effective in reducing blue light exposure from the screen they are applied to, which is beneficial for individuals who spend extended periods in front of a specific screen. Software-based filters offer more flexibility as they can be installed on multiple devices.

However, screen filters may have limitations in environments with variable lighting conditions, and physical filters might reduce screen clarity or color accuracy, impacting the viewing experience.

4. Cost Consideration

When deciding between blue light blocking glasses and screen filters, cost is an important factor to consider. Here’s a breakdown of the pricing:

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

The cost of blue light blocking glasses varies depending on the brand, quality, and features. For example:

👍 Recommendation

The Blue Cut Blue Light Blocking Glasses offer a comfortable solution for those frequently facing screens, helping to alleviate eye strain and headaches. However, their durability might be a concern due to a somewhat fragile frame and only moderate filtering capability. Nevertheless, they are a solid choice for protection against blue light, combining ease of wear with additional features. For more information on top blue light blocking glasses, check out our Top 8 Best Blue Light Blocking Glasses list.

Screen Filters

The cost of screen filters varies based on size, type, and brand. For example, the Ocushield Anti Blue Light Screen Protector is priced at around $90 and is available in various device sizes​.

Also, the ANTOGOO V 2 Pack 11.6 Inch Blue Light Screen Protector is available for $15.59. This Chromebook blue light screen protector boasts a multi-layered design to filter out harmful blue light. With its comprehensive blue light blocking capabilities, it ensures superior eye protection, minimizing eye strain and reducing the occurrence of headaches, even during prolonged computer usage.

Wrap Up

As digital device usage surges, blue light blocking interventions like special glasses and screen filters have emerged to alleviate concerns over eye strain and sleep disruption. However, research on their real-world effectiveness remains inconclusive and considerations like light sensitivity may impact outcomes.

Blue light-blocking glasses provide more versatility across devices and settings, but can impact visual clarity. Screen filters offer tailored filtering but lack portability. With authoritative guidance still lacking on managing blue light exposure, individuals can weigh the tradeoffs of these solutions against their particular needs and budgets. More research is required to conclusively determine the usefulness of these much-touted protective measures.

📔 Related Articles

For a more in-depth comparison related to vision, please refer to the following articles:

FAQs on Blue Light Blocking Glasses vs Screen Filters

How to choose between blue light glasses and screen filters?

Both options offer protection from blue light, but your choice should depend on your primary needs (eye strain prevention or sleep improvement), sensitivity to blue light, the number of devices you use, and personal preferences regarding cost, ease of purchase, and ease of use.

Who should wear blue light glasses?

Anyone spending a significant part of their day in front of digital screens, especially those experiencing sleep issues or digital eye strain symptoms.

Do blue light glasses help with night driving?

Blue light glasses can reduce glare from oncoming headlights and streetlights, aiding night driving. However, some heavily tinted glasses might affect visual perception.

What are the differences in protection between blue light glasses and screen filters?

Screen filters cover the entire device, potentially offering more comprehensive protection against blue light, including for the skin. Blue light glasses, on the other hand, protect only the eyes but from multiple sources of blue light, including ambient lighting​.