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Do Blue Light Glasses Help with Headaches?

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Young man with headache working on a computer with a blue screen.

How often do you experience headaches? Do you notice your symptoms appear at certain times of the day, during certain seasons, or under certain conditions? 

If you’ve noticed a link between your headaches and computer use, you might be wondering about conditions like digital eye strain and whether blue light glasses can help reduce your headaches.

Blue light glasses can help reduce the effects of blue light on your eyes and may help ease digital eye strain, but they are not an ultimate solution to headaches—including headaches caused by digital eye strain

Each person’s eye health and overall health are unique. When it comes to complex issues like headaches, determining the underlying cause and using an appropriate solution is the first step toward getting relief. 

How Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Work?

Blue light blocking glasses work by using a specialized lens filter designed to absorb or stop blue light before it reaches your eyes. The amount of blue light filtered out by blue light blocking glasses can vary. 

According to 1 study, blue light glasses that block 50% of blue light may provide some benefits for reducing digital eye strain symptoms such as dry eye.  

Can Blue Light Blocking Glasses Stop Headaches?

The clinical evidence to suggest that blue light blocking glasses can stop digital eye strain symptoms like headaches is varied. Some evidence does suggest blue light lenses may help with eye strain.

While certain lens tints may help reduce headaches for some people, your experience with blue light glasses may vary based on your individual eye health and the underlying cause of your headaches. 

If you’re experiencing headaches from eye strain, you may need to visit an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. A full exam can help us determine the cause of your eye strain and headaches so we can provide appropriate recommendations and support for your health.

What Is Blue Light?

Blue light is 1 of several parts of the visible light spectrum and comes from natural sources as well as digital screens. 

What would you guess is our most common source of blue light? With blue light’s popular connection to the subject of digital devices and digital eye strain, it would be natural to think of computer screens or phone screens. 

While digital screens do emit blue light at a low intensity, the sun is actually our biggest source of blue light. It’s often our total exposure to blue light, rather than where it comes from, that determines its effects on our eyes and wellness.

Infographic with tips on headache prevention.

Can Blue Light Affect Your Eyes & Overall Health?

Blue light can have both positive and negative effects on your health and wellness. The negative effects of blue light typically appear because of prolonged blue light exposure—which can often be a result of looking at digital screens. 

How Does Blue Light Affect Your Overall Health?

Natural blue light from the sun helps us maintain our circadian rhythm—our natural sleep cycle. The other benefits of blue light can include boosts to your mood, memory, and concentration.

When we’re exposed to blue light for long periods of time, those boosting effects can disrupt our circadian rhythm, leading to poor sleep and daytime sleepiness.

How Does Blue Light Affect Your Eyes?

The effects of blue light on vision and eye health are still being studied, and there is a lack of evidence to suggest that low-intensity blue light has negative effects over short periods of time. 

However, there is growing evidence and research to suggest prolonged exposure may affect your eyes and lead to digital eye strain. Blue light can scatter in the eye, creating challenges with focusing that may contribute to symptoms of eye strain, such as headaches. 

What Are the Effects of Digital Eye Strain?

The symptoms of digital eye strain—also known as computer vision syndrome—typically appear during long periods of screen use, such as a TV binge, long gaming session, or workday spent at a computer. 

Headaches and dry eyes are 2 common symptoms of digital eye strain, but its other effects on your eyes and health can include:

  • Tired eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Red eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Neck and shoulder pain

While digital eye strain can cause headaches, it’s not the only cause of headaches. 

A pair of blue light glasses on an open laptop.

What Causes Headaches?

We know Calgary can be a challenging place to live for those who experience headaches or migraines, partly because there are a lot of potential causes of migraine attacks and headaches—from digital eye strain to local Chinook weather.

When it comes to your eye health, it’s important to know that digital eye strain isn’t the only potential cause of headaches. Other eye conditions that can cause headaches include myopia, presbyopia, and angle-closure glaucoma

Headaches come in many forms and can also be caused by other factors, so identifying the cause and getting appropriate care is important for truly addressing them. 

Some of the other causes of headaches include:

  • Stress
  • Not eating enough
  • Not getting enough quality sleep
  • Sleeping too much
  • Alcohol use
  • Sinus problems
  • Caffeine
  • Dehydration

Support for Digital Eye Strain & Headaches

Speaking with an eye doctor about headaches and eye strain can help you determine whether seasonal weather, eye conditions, or other factors are causing your symptoms. At Calgary Optometry Centre, we strive to support your vision, eye health, and overall wellness with modern techniques and comprehensive technology. Book an appointment to speak with us about your experiences with vision changes and headaches. We’re ready to help you find relief.

Written by Dr. Kent Prete

An active member of the Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Alberta Association of Optometrists, and the Alberta College of Optometrists, Dr. Prete lives his passion every day when he sees his patients. Dr. Prete has spoken at over 100 professional events over the last almost 20 years. A keen educator and confident doctor, Dr. Prete is nearly as passionate about educating other eye care professionals as he is about caring for and educating his patients!
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