Reviewed by : Dr. Matthew Miller, OD on Jul 16, 2021

Blue light glasses are a relatively new option that has come to the eyewear market. People all over the world are now using screens on smartphones, tablets, and monitors much more these days. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased screen usage even more as many people have been forced to work from home, leading to more hours on computers or other devices all day, every day.

It’s a proven fact that all screens give off a decent amount of blue light. Blue light has been shown in some studies to cause eye strain, headaches, and disruption to the body's natural melatonin production — the hormone that aids with restful sleep. This is where blue light glasses come in.

But, what do blue light glasses actually do? The idea behind them is to block a certain percentage of the blue light emitted by screens. Prescription lenses are often coated with ultraviolet (UV) light protection, and while this is certainly good as UV light is a type of damaging radiation, UV coating doesn’t prevent blue light from getting to the eyes.

What Do Blue Light Glasses Help With?

As mentioned, the idea behind blue light glasses is to block a certain percentage of blue light from reaching the eye. Studies vary on the effectiveness of these blue light blocking lenses, but they’re intended to reduce eye strain, fatigue, headaches, and to help maintain normal melatonin levels. All of these are problems that’ve been found with excessive blue light exposure.

How Do Blue Light Glasses Work?

Now we’ve established what blue light glasses help with, how do they work? Or better yet, do blue light glasses work at all? The lenses are coated with an almost imperceptible yellow tint that blocks about 40% of blue light. Since this coating is so light, it’s possible to wear blue light glasses all day without anyone even noticing you’ve got the coating on your lenses. If 40% of blue light blocking isn’t enough, you may have to opt for lenses that are obviously yellow. This’ll provide you with even more blue light blocking power, but may not be the most practical to wear when you’re away from your computer screen since the yellow tint will be so obvious.

Can Blue Light Glasses Cause Headaches?

As long as the prescription is correct and the frame fits you properly, blue light glasses shouldn’t cause headaches. If you start to experience headaches with blue light glasses, you should see an optician or perhaps have your eyecare professional double check your prescription to be sure it’s right. If you wear non-prescription blue light glasses and get headaches, it’s a good idea to talk with an optician to see if the frame fits you properly, or perhaps you need prescription blue light glasses. In that case, you’ll want to schedule an eye exam with your eyecare provider.

While studies vary on the overall effectiveness of blue light glasses, on an anecdotal note I’ve had many patients that have tried them and feel they do indeed help with eye strain and fatigue. If you spend a lot of time on a screen, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try a pair and see if they work for you!