The efficacy of blue-blocking spectacle lenses

Have you ever stopped to think about the evidence behind the treatments you offer your patients? How do you know that the treatment is right for them? 

This series, Using evidence in practice, sets out a summary of that evidence for you, so that you know that there is a solid foundation behind the recommendations you make. 

Professors John Lawrenson and Chris Hull have written an explanation of the evidence behind the efficacy of blue blocking spectacle lenses for visual comfort and as protection against macular disease. 

What you should know

The best scientific evidence currently available does not support the use of blue-blocking spectacle lenses in the general population to improve visual performance, alleviate the symptoms of eye fatigue or visual discomfort, improve sleep quality or conserve macular health.

A systematic literature review was undertaken as part of the development process for this guideline (search date 02.05.17). Three randomised controlled trials that met the review’s inclusion criteria were identified.

When considering the evidence for the use of blue-blocking spectacle lenses, four questions were addressed: 

  • Are blue-blocking spectacle lenses effective in improving visual performance?
  • Are blue-blocking spectacle lenses effective in alleviating the symptoms of visual fatigue or discomfort?
  • Are there any structural changes in the macula following the intervention?
  • Are blue-blocking spectacle lenses effective in improving sleep quality?

The certainty of evidence using the GRADE approach was considered to be ‘low’ or ‘very low’ for visual performance, eye fatigue and sleep quality. (GRADE: Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation). As a result, we have little or no confidence in the results reported by these three studies. No studies reporting on the effects of blue blocking spectacle lenses on macular health were identified. 

What this means for your practice

If you are selling blue-blocking spectacle lenses, you should make your patients aware that there is no strong evidence that blue-blocking spectacle lenses will improve visual performance, alleviate the symptoms of eye fatigue or visual discomfort, improve sleep quality or conserve macular health.

Download the full paper