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Do blue-light blocking lenses work? Experts say there is little to no proof

As the world relies more heavily on digital devices, there has been a surge in the popularity of blue-light blocking lenses. These lenses promise to shield the eyes from the detrimental effects of blue light emitted by our everyday screens. 

However, a new comprehensive study led by researchers at the University of Melbourne suggests that these promises might be more fiction than fact.

Surprising conclusions 

The researchers investigated the supposed benefits of blue-light filtering lenses. After meticulously evaluating 17 randomized controlled trials, the experts came to some surprising conclusions. 

Contrary to many advertising claims, there seems to be little proof that blue-light filtering lenses offer any substantial relief from the eye strain often attributed to prolonged screen use.

No evidence of protection 

The review, which assessed the short-term efficacy of these lenses – from a mere two hours up to one week of use – found no substantial evidence that these lenses have any notable impact on sleep quality or offer any protection against potential retinal damage.

The international scope of the research further strengthens its credibility. The analysis was focused on data from studies performed across six countries, involving a total of 619 participants. The results consistently point to a gap between marketing promises and scientific evidence.

No short-term advantages 

Professor Laura Downie, the senior author of the review and the head of the Downie Laboratory at the University of Melbourne, cautioned both consumers and eye care professionals about the findings.

“We found there may be no short-term advantages with using blue-light filtering spectacle lenses to reduce eye strain associated with computer use, compared to non-blue-light filtering lenses,” said Professor Downie. 

She further emphasized that the impact of these lenses on vision quality, sleep outcomes, and long-term retinal health remains nebulous. “People should be aware of these findings when deciding whether to purchase these spectacle lenses.”

Professor Downie said the lenses are often prescribed to patients and that many marketing claims exist about their potential benefits, which patients can find confusing.

Evidence is inconclusive 

“The outcomes of our review, based on the current, best available evidence, show that the evidence is inconclusive and uncertain for these claims,” she said.

“Our findings do not support the prescription of blue-light filtering lenses to the general population. These results are relevant to a broad range of stakeholders, including eye care professionals, patients, researchers and the broader community.”

More in-depth research is needed

Study first author Dr. Sumeer Singh, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Downie Laboratory, said: “High-quality, large clinical research studies with longer follow-up in more diverse populations are still required to ascertain more clearly the potential effects of blue-light filtering spectacle lenses on visual performance, sleep and eye health.”

“They should examine whether efficacy and safety outcomes vary between different groups of people and using different types of lenses.”

Dr. Singh noted that the amount of blue light our eyes receive from artificial sources, such as computer screens, is about one  thousandth of what we get from natural daylight.

“It’s also worth bearing in mind that blue-light filtering lenses typically filter out about 10-25 percent of blue light, depending on the specific product. Filtering out higher levels of blue light would require the lenses to have an obvious amber tint, which would have a substantial effect on color perception,” said Dr. Singh.

The research was a collaborative effort with experts from City, University of London and Monash University.

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