6 September 2023

Review finds there may be no benefit using blue-light filtering spectacles

The Cochrane systematic review consisted of 17 randomised controlled trials that recruited 619 people.

A newly published Cochrane systematic review found that blue-light filtering spectacles did not perform any better that non-blue-light filtering spectacles in reducing eye strain associated with computer use, had little or no effect on best corrected visual acuity and an inconclusive effect on sleep quality. 

The high quality study found the following key findings:

  • There may be no short-term advantages with using blue-light filtering lenses to reduce visual fatigue with computer use, compared to non-blue-light filtering lenses
  • There is limited information about the potential effect(s) of blue-light filtering lenses on visual acuity and the effects on sleep-related measures are unclear
  • Adverse events related to blue-light filtering lenses were infrequently reported, but included increased depressive symptoms, headache, discomfort wearing the glasses and lower mood
  • The Cochrane review authors concluded that future high quality randomised controlled trials are required to define more clearly the effects of blue-light filtering lenses on visual performance, macular health and sleep in adult populations.

These findings are consistent with our 2017 evidence review on the efficacy of blue-blocking spectacle lenses.

It is vital that all optometrists maintain the trust of the public by making the care of their patients their first and continuing concern. This means that optometrists should tell patients if any treatments or products recommended are not supported by evidence. Furthermore, clinicians must not make misleading, confusing or unlawful statements in their advertising, communications, nor in the consultation room. This places a higher level of integrity on clinicians than that may be found in advertising online and on social media by non-health care professionals where there are many brand ambassadors and influencers who anecdotally advocate these products.

If you are selling blue-blocking spectacle lenses, you should ensure patients are 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. You must present all the information impartially and should ensure that your clinical decisions are informed by the evidence. Your practices’ publicity and advertising form part of the information that your patients use to make treatment and purchase decisions, so confusing information could invalidate a person’s consent to treat and may result in future claims of mis-selling. 

Related further reading

This study reports on an audit carried out in the emergency eye care (EEC) service at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

A patient wants to purchase a pair of spectacles using a prescription generated from an overseas app on his smartphone. What would you do?

You are asked to take home a box of clinical waste to dispose of at home. What should you do?