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FOX43 Finds Out: Do blue light blocking glasses really work?

Blue light blocking glasses are becoming more popular. FOX43 Finds Out if they're worth your money.

HERSHEY, Pa. — You can buy blue light blocking or filtering glasses online or from an eye doctor.

They're designed to protect your eyes.

FOX43 Finds Out if they're worth your money.

From our phones to the sun, blue light is everywhere.

Recently though, blue light blocking glasses have become popular.

"We know blue light affects the retinal cells and causes damage," said Dr. Tara O'Rourke with Penn State Health.

She says her patients ask her every day if blue light blocking glasses work.

Which she says, is a hard question to answer.

"There's no conclusive evidence right now," said the doctor.

A lot of companies that make these types of lenses claim the product can prevent some of the harmful light from impacting your eyes while you're looking at a computer screen.

"When we give a prescription and go to an optical and get it, the amount of blue light that's blocked is essentially higher. Something that you get online for like 10 bucks, they say they blue block, but they could block 1% of light and nothing is regulated, so that's the tough thing," said Dr. O'Rourke.

Know what's being marketed

A quick search on amazon for the product shows some companies claim their lenses are "FDA approved."

However, the Food and Drug administration told FOX43 Finds Out it has not approved or cleared any blue light glasses.

Dr. O'Rourke says those glasses won't hurt you, they just may not *really* help you.

"Do not harm is what we do in practicing medicine, so if it's helping patients, great. I do think a lot of it is placebo effect."

Dr. O'Rourke thinks the blockers are beneficial when it comes to bedtime.

"The National Sleep Foundation does show that digital screen and the blue lights that are emitted from them can decrease our melatonin rates, so it makes it more difficult for us to fall asleep at night. It's hard to tell your patients to not be on your phone or devices 4 hours before you go to bed, so that's where the blue blocker glasses can help get you to sleep a little bit easier."

The doctor says a lot of those blue light blockers do have an anti-reflective coating and that can help cut down on the glare and haze from our phones and computers. 

"I do think it's beneficial just in eye strain in general. With eye strain though, it's really us using computers and the length we use computers."

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FOX43 Finds Out asked the doctor if she wears blue light blockers and she said yes.

"I just figured, ya know, if there's some evidence out there that it can help with some of the glare and haze and sleeping, I might as well do it. They're still researching."

Reduce eyestrain without spending money

The doctor did does have some tips on how you can prevent eyestrain without spending money, like practicing the 20-20 rule.  

 For every 20 minutes you spend on the computer, look away for 20 seconds.

On your phones and tablets, you can change the settings on a lot of these to "night time" mode. 

That eliminates some of the blue light.

As for those companies that claim their blue light blocking lenses are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, you can verify if a product is actually registered with the FDA.

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Here's the FDA's full statement to FOX43: "All spectacle lenses and sunglasses, including those available with blue light filters, are class 1 exempt (CFR 886.5842). This means manufacturers do not need to submit a marketing application to the FDA unless they exceed the limits of exemption (e.g., making medical claims beyond those in the regulation or of previously cleared 510(k)s). However, class I devices are still required to register and list, and comply with certain labeling, Good Manufacturing Practice, and postmarket surveillance requirements. Therefore, the FDA has not approved or cleared blue light glasses, but there are requirements for the manufacturers to register and to list their devices with the FDA. Just because they say they are “FDA registered” doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true. The FDA has not approved or cleared (two different FDA authorizations) any blue light glasses."

If you have a story you want Jackie to look into, FOX43 wants to find out. Send Jackie a message on Facebook or email FOX43FindsOut@FOX43.com.