Why You May Need Computer Glasses
Some might think “computer glasses” are only reserved for individuals who spend sixteen hours a day in front of a monitor. Glasses designed to wear solely when using a computer, however, have become a popular solution to many problems that even casual computer users might face. From eye strain to insomnia, those who spend a lot of time staring at screens (both phone and computer) may be damaging their health. With the popularity of working from home, virtual reality, and the creation of digital alternatives for every facet of our lives, the world is becoming more screen-obsessed than ever. Many find themselves spending more time staring at a screen than looking off-screen.
What are computer glasses?
The phrase “computer glasses” has evolved to mean two different things:
- Prescription computer glasses designed for optimal near to mid-range computer screen viewing, which requires a different range of view than traditional reading glasses
- Non-prescription computer glasses that minimize the blue light frequencies that our eyes absorb while viewing screens
For this article, we’re going to explore the latter definition. These particular types of “computer glasses” are also called blue light blocking glasses.
Why are blue light blocking glasses important while using the computer?
Your electronic devices (smartphones, televisions, computer screens, and even some overhead office lighting) give off blue light. Across the visible spectrum of light that you’re able to see, there are short and long wavelengths. Shorter wavelengths (including blue light) give off more energy and are often called High Energy Visible (HEV) light.
The sun also emanates blue light frequency, but it also includes other frequencies. We naturally spend a lot less time staring at the sun than we do staring at devices. Because of this, our constant exposure to blue light from screens has come under fire as the reason for certain health issues. Originally, blue light blocking glasses came out decades ago for people who wanted to protect their eyes while spending hours outside under the sun. But the most present source of blue light in our lives has changed.
What’s the deal with blue light?
Much like the damage caused by staring at the sun, blue light from screens can have a deleterious effect. How? Overexposure to blue light impacts our circadian rhythm. This natural cycle throughout our day is responsible for keeping our bodies in their natural, healthy state due to the balance and optimization of various hormones.
Because our eyes are not very good at screening the various High Energy Visible lights (blue light, for example), the constant exposure can damage various parts of the eye. Some defend computer screens and say blue light is not responsible for the issues we’re facing. But, there’s been a drastic increase in our usage since the early days of computing in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
According to DataReportal, “the average person spends a total of 6 hours and 57 minutes looking at a screen each day.” Simply put, our usage has drastically changed and our eyes have not evolved to handle this overload. Like many things, a little is good and too much is bad. We are simply overexposed.
What’s so dangerous about blue light overexposure?
Blue light overexposure may lead to eye problems
While spending lots of hours in front of the computer screen working, gaming, or casually using your computer, you may experience “computer vision syndrome.” Symptoms of “computer vision syndrome” include dry, red, sore, or irritated eyes, blurred or double vision, and eye twitching.
Blue light overexposure may lead to general health issues
Combining our eyes’ overexposure to screens with the sedentary, seated position in which many of us work, you may also get headaches, fatigue, back and neck pain, and dizziness.
Blue light overexposure may lead to sleep issues
Our relationship with blue light goes deeper than “eye deep.” Blue light regulates our sleep/wake cycle, also known as our circadian rhythm. Exposure to blue light from the morning sun is a great way for our bodies to know it’s time to wake up and get energized.
When we’re exposed to blue light at night, however, we’re telling our bodies it’s okay to stay awake and stay energized. This disturbs our melatonin production, the crucial hormone responsible for our circadian rhythm, in our bodies. Because we expose ourselves to blue light long past the sun sets, we’re damaging this important body process and giving ourselves sleep problems.
Blue light-related sleep issues may be responsible for many more dangerous side effects
Because sleep is one of the most important pillars of our wellbeing, disrupting it causes all kinds of problems. Sleep issues combined with overexposure to screens may cause an increased risk of various cancers, memory issues, mental health issues like depression and anxiety, obesity, cataracts, and more.
How do you protect against the harmful effects of blue light overexposure?
Blue light blocking glasses (computer glasses) reduce the amount of blue light your eyes take in when you’re exposed to screens. Overall, cutting down the exposure to blue light by using blue light blocking glasses may reduce health concerns. This is especially important at night when your body is most adapted to darkness. When you block out blue light, you allow your circadian rhythm to continue uninterrupted.
Doing this protects your health and wellness on many levels. Blue light blocking glasses have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Some have called blue light blocking glasses a fad, but consumers will always gravitate toward solutions that prevent further damage from our evolving lifestyles.
What can we do to protect our eyes and health besides wearing blue light blocking glasses?
There are several ways to protect your eyes and make screen time a less damaging factor while gaming, working, or casually using devices.
- Avoid using blue light-emitting devices several hours before your desired bedtime
- Take breaks from using anything with a screen throughout the day
- Keep your eyes moisturized with eye drops
- Wear sunglasses during the day to cut down on the sun’s blue light
- Optimize your computer’s readability by increasing the font sizes and adjusting the contrast for easier viewing
The role of our choosing the right screen in protecting our eyes
What else can you do besides wearing computer glasses and adjusting your habits and usage? Much like adjusting the font size and the contrast, it’s helpful to fix the problem at the source. Reducing the glare from the actual screen helps. Glare causes your eyes to become overwhelmed by the amount of light coming in. Matte filters act as a “screen protector” and cover the screen to reduce the glare emanating from it.
By upgrading your monitor in size and resolution, you can solve many vision issues. Bigger monitors allow for better viewing. An increase in pixel resolution allows your eyes to focus easier. Additionally, some monitors are coming out with both increased resolution and built-in vision protection.
To create the most vibrant viewing experience with less of the harmful effects of overexposure, Acer has created BlueLightShield Pro.
Does BlueLightShield Pro block blue light? Yes, BlueLightShield Pro featured displays emit at least 30% less high-energy blue light compared to the industry-standard LCDs while still maintaining a high degree of color accuracy. Some of the Acer displays offer LightSense and ColorSense. These features detect the amount of ambient light in your environment and automatically adjust the brightness and color temperature of your display to ease eye strain. LightSense and ColorSense allow you to have the most comfortable viewing experience possible. Additionally, Acer has created ComfyView, an anti-glare matte display. This matte display, as mentioned before, helps reduce glare and prevents excess light from overwhelming your eyes. These features essentially mimic the effects of wearing blue light blocking glasses.
We only have faint visions of what the future of our technological life will look like in twenty years. We do know, however, that whatever problems have arisen from “screen addiction” will only worsen with more usage.
Computer glasses are a great choice in combating screen-induced health issues. Ultimately though, the simplest harm-reduction method is to go straight to the source of the problem. By using better devices like monitors with built-in vision protection, you can protect your eyes without the inconvenience of wearing blue light blocking glasses or limiting the time spent on your device.
Patrick Yu is a Senior Project Manager at Level Interactive and has 8 years of experience writing business, legal, lifestyle, gaming, and technology articles. He is a significant contributor to Acer Corner and is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan.