Watch CBS News

Mythbusting the blue-blocking: Do the lenses actually protect our eyesight?

Are blue light-blocking glasses worth the cost?
Are blue light-blocking glasses worth the cost? 02:33

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The pandemic changed so much in our daily lives, for instance - it dramatically increased our screen time. 

With us turning more and more to our electronic devices it also has increased concern about our eyesight and the idea of anything happening to our vision is frightening, which makes us vulnerable. 

The basic idea behind those blue-tinted glasses is that the light from our computer screens and devices damages our eyes. 

"You get more ultraviolet light basically walking from my office to your car than you will from a screen for a prolonged period of time," explained Dr. Robert Johnson, an optometrist in Latrobe. 

Dr. John said that the blue light scare hit the ground running during the pandemic. 

"People were spending eight to 12 to 16 hours, my children 20-24 hours, [per] day glued to a screen," he joked. 

You aren't going to find any advocates for blue light blockers at Johnson Family Eyecare, which began in 1946 when Robert's dad opened the practice. 

"I would have patients coming in saying they just ordered blue-blocking glasses from the internet for their daughter and what was my opinion," he explained. "This blue-blocking situation has been bogus basically from the get-go." 

Dr. Johnson bases it on science and it doesn't take long for your research to find a lot of support for his position. 

"It's one of the absurdities that come from advertising," he said. "Internet and eye are, there are a lot of people [who] probably made a lot of money with it." 

That's not to say Dr. Johnson and most eye doctors aren't concerned about our vision and our children's vision due to screens. He's very concerned. 

Also, while the blue blockers may not do anything, they won't hurt you. In fact, he said, "it causes absolutely no damage." 

Screen time and the damage it can cause 02:46

As for screen time, we spend an average of seven hours and four minutes per day looking at our phones or computer screens and that's the worry optometrists have about the future of our vision. 

We open our eyes in the morning and we can see. Doctors say to not take that for granted as our lives are so dependent on what comes from screens. 

That includes our kids, and that's where Dr. Johnson is concerned. 

"We have these seven, eight, and 10-year-old children glued to their screens for eight to 12 hours per day," he said. "Where will it be when they turn 70?" 

The problem with that is when we focus on the screen, we don't blink as often as we normally do, and Dr. Johnson said you probably want to blink in excess of 3,500 times in a day. 

No blinking, no tears. 

"As we keep our eyes open longer, those tears can evaporate to a greater degree, so therefore, when we do blink, we don't have the same lubricant of quality that we would have if we weren't," he explained. 

Dr. Johnson's answer is simple, it's what he called the "20-20-20 rule." 

"For every 20 minutes, look away in excess of 20 feet for 20 seconds," he said. "That will relax your focusing mechanism that will give your eyes a break and that will make you more comfortable." 

The longer you wait to do the look away, the longer you might find it takes for your eyes to recover and refocus.

If that can't be done, it's best to get up and walk away for 20 seconds and Dr. Johnson recommends that, regardless of age. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.