Cochrane Review on blue-light filtering spectacles published

The systematic evaluation of 17 randomised controlled trials found the spectacles probably make no difference to sleep quality or eye strain

A woman with a black jacket and black spectacles sits in front of a computer at a desk

A new Cochrane Systematic Review has found that blue-light filtering spectacles probably make no difference to eye strain, visual performance or sleep quality.

The review involved analysis of 17 randomised controlled trials from six countries.

It was led by researchers at the University of Melbourne in collaboration with colleagues at City, University of London and Monash University.

Senior author of the Cochrane review, associate professor, Laura Downie, of the University of Melbourne, shared that the review found that there were no short-term advantages of using blue-light filtering spectacle lenses to reduce visual fatigue associated with computer use.

“It is also currently unclear whether these lenses affect vision quality or sleep-related outcomes, and no conclusions could be drawn about any potential effects on retinal health in the longer term. People should be aware of these findings when deciding whether to purchase these spectacles,” she said.

Downie added that a range of marketing claims exist about the potential benefits of blue-light filtering spectacle lenses – including that they may reduce eye strain associated with digital device use, improve sleep quality and protect the retina from light-induced damage.

“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.

Dr Sumeer Singh, also of the University of Melbourne, highlighted that the amount of blue light the eyes are exposed to from artificial sources, such as computer screens, is about a thousandth of what is received through natural daylight.

“It’s also worth bearing in mind that blue-light filtering lenses typically filter out about 10-25% 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 colour perception,” he said.

Co-author of the review, Professor John Lawrenson, shared that the review updates the 2017 systematic review on the topic.

“The study reinforces the current position statements of professional organisations in optometry regarding the lack of scientific evidence to support the use of blue blocking spectacle lenses to alleviate digital eyestrain,” he said.

An Australian survey in 2018 found that 75% of the 372 optometrists who responded prescribed blue-light filtering spectacle lenses.