What Is Blue Light and Why Is It Harmful for Kids' Eyes?

As a parent, you know how important healthy eyesight is for your child's development and success. But did you know that prolonged exposure to blue light from screens may negatively impact their vision long-term? Read on to learn about blue light's effects on young eyes, the best blue light blocking glasses for kids, and how you can work blue light glasses into your child's daily routine to limit exposure and prioritize eye health. With the right strategies, you can protect your child's eyes while still allowing reasonable screen time. Arm yourself with knowledge on the latest in children's eye protection against blue light.

blue light glasses

How Blue Light Impacts Kids' Sleep, Focus and Academic Performance

Blue light is high-energy visible light with wavelengths between 415 to 455 nanometers. It is emitted from digital screens like smartphones, tablets, and computers. While limited blue light exposure is normal and not harmful, the excessive amounts children are exposed to today can cause damage to developing eyes.

Impact on Eye Health

Extended exposure to blue light can lead to digital eye strain in children, causing sore, tired, and dry eyes. More significantly, it may lead to age-related macular degeneration as blue light penetrates deep into the retina, potentially accelerating cellular aging. It also disrupts the circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep at night.

Impaired Learning and Concentration

Blue light exposure, especially in the evening, can make it difficult for children to concentrate, learn, and retain information. Studies show students who use electronics at night tend to have lower grades. Limiting screen time, using eReaders, and blue light filtering glasses are steps that can help support children's learning, focus and academic success.

Solutions for Kids

Blue light glasses are specialized computer glasses that filter out high-energy blue light while allowing lower-energy light to pass through. For children, look for glasses that filter at least 50% of blue light. Have kids wear blue light glasses when using digital devices and limit screen time, especially in the hour before bed. Making these changes now will promote lifelong healthy vision and learning. With the right precautions taken early on, your child's eyes and mind have the best chance to develop to their full potential.

blue light glasses for kids

Top Blue Light Glasses for Children and Teens

Blue Light Disrupts Circadian Rhythms

Exposure to blue light wavelengths from screens and bright overhead lights after dark tricks the brain into thinking it's daytime. This disrupts the body's circadian rhythms and melatonin production, making it harder for kids to fall asleep. Lack of sleep can significantly impact focus, memory, decision making, and emotional regulation in children and teens.

Screens Impair Focus and Cognitive Performance

Time spent staring at phones, tablets, computers and TVs exposes developing eyes to high energy visible (HEV) blue light which causes digital eye strain. This impairs focus and impacts the cognitive abilities that are critical for learning and development. Studies show screen time and exposure to blue light negatively impact academic performance in kids.

Mitigate Risks with Blue Light Glasses

Blue light glasses are specially designed to filter out HEV blue light. For children and teens, blue light glasses can help limit the negative impacts of screens and bright lights. Many reputable brands offer kid-friendly blue light glasses options in a range of styles from casual to athletic. Educating kids about blue light exposure and implementing limits around technology use, especially in the evening, will help ensure the best vision and sleep health throughout development. Overall, reducing blue light exposure and incorporating the use of blue light glasses for kids is an investment in long term health, well-being and academic success.

Teaching Kids About Healthy Screen Time Habits

When it comes to kids and blue light exposure, protection is essential for healthy development. As children and teens spend more time looking at digital devices for online learning and entertainment, their eyes are exposed to damaging blue light. Blue light glasses offer an easy solution to limit daily blue light exposure and support eye health and development.

Glasses from Zenni Optical

For affordable blue light glasses, Zenni Optical offers options for children and teens. Their Blokz lenses block at least 50% of blue light and come in a range of kid-friendly frames for around $30. The glasses are durable and impact-resistant, suitable for everyday and online learning use.

Felix Gray Glasses

Felix Gray produces high-quality, stylish blue light glasses for kids and teens. Their Kid's Collection offers frames in fun colors and patterns that kids will want to wear, starting at $95. The lenses block at least 50% of blue light and harmful high-energy visible (HEV) light. The durable frames and lenses can stand up to daily use and the occasional drop.

EyeBuyDirect Glasses

EyeBuyDirect is another reputable brand for blue light glasses, with options for children and teens starting at $20. Their blue light lenses filter at least 50% of blue light and are available in a range of kid-friendly frames. The glasses meet safety standards for impact resistance and durability for kids. EyeBuyDirect frequently runs sales to help you save on high-quality blue light glasses for your child.

Blue light glasses should be incorporated into daily screen time and online learning routines to limit blue light exposure. Educating kids on the importance of blue light protection and limiting screen time when possible will help support their long-term eye health and development. With options at various price points, it's easy to find high-quality blue light glasses to meet your child's needs and your budget.

Using Blue Light Glasses at Home and School

At Home

Encourage your child to wear blue light glasses whenever using devices at home for recreational purposes like watching videos, gaming, or social media. Explain that blue light glasses reduce eye strain and make screen time more comfortable. Set a good example by wearing your own pair. Make blue light glasses part of your family’s regular indoor eyewear, just like regular glasses or contacts.

In The Classroom

Talk to your child’s teachers about allowing and recommending blue light glasses during lessons that involve prolonged screen time, such as educational video watching or laptop use. Explain that blue light glasses can aid concentration and prevent digital eye fatigue, which may negatively impact learning. If permitted, have your child keep a pair of blue light glasses at school specifically for this purpose.

Reducing Overall Screen Time

While blue light glasses do block harmful blue light, limiting total screen time is still the best approach for supporting children’s vision and well-being. Encourage outdoor activities, social interaction, and other hobbies that don't involve electronics. Be consistent about enforcing age-appropriate screen time limits for entertainment and recreation at home, especially before bedtime. Model balanced technology use in your own daily habits.

With the increased digital demands of the modern world, blue light exposure is an unfortunate reality for today's youth. However, by using blue light glasses, limiting recreational screen time, and teaching children best practices for technology use, you can support their eye health, focus and sleep quality during this critical period of development. The investment in their long term vision and learning will pay dividends for years to come.

Other Ways to Reduce Blue Light Exposure

Limit Screen Time and Take Regular Breaks

Limiting screen time and taking regular breaks from looking at digital devices is one of the most effective ways to reduce blue light exposure for children and teens. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting recreational screen time to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming for children ages 2 to 5 years, and 2 hours per day for children ages 6-18 years. Taking breaks to look away from the screen and focus on distant objects every 20 minutes can help reduce eye strain and fatigue.

Use eReaders Instead of Tablets

eReaders like the Kindle use e-ink technology that produces very little blue light. Reading on an eReader is a better option than reading on a tablet or smartphone for leisure reading. Tablets and smartphones emit high amounts of blue light, so they should only be used when necessary. Using an eReader for casual reading can significantly reduce blue light exposure, especially before bed.

Install Blue Light Filters

Installing blue light blocking software on digital devices is an easy way to reduce blue light exposure. Many blue light filter apps are available for computers, tablets, and smartphones that can be customized to block anywhere from 20% to 100% of blue light. Using these apps, especially in the evening, can help minimize the negative impacts of blue light for developing eyes. Some popular options include f.lux, Twilight, and Night Shift.

Wear Blue Light Glasses

Blue light glasses, also known as computer glasses, help protect eyes from blue light exposure by filtering out the highest energy wavelengths of blue light. They can be an effective solution for reducing digital eye strain and the long term effects of blue light exposure. Blue light glasses designed specifically for children and teens are available and recommended for regular use during screen time and for up to 2 hours before bed.

Incorporating a combination of these strategies at home, in the classroom and for all recreational technology use can significantly limit blue light exposure for children and support healthy vision development and sleep-wake cycles during these formative years. Reducing blue light wherever possible and teaching kids healthy tech habits early on will set them up for success in the digital world.

Do Blue Light Glasses Really Work?

Blue light glasses are designed to filter out blue light wavelengths from digital screens and bright light sources. Many claims that these specialized glasses can help reduce digital eye strain, improve sleep, and support long term eye health. But do blue light blocking glasses actually work as advertised?

Reducing Digital Eye Strain

Staring at screens for extended periods can cause eye strain, fatigue, and headaches. Blue light glasses are designed to filter the types of high-energy visible light that are emitted from tech devices like phones, tablets, and computers. By reducing blue light exposure, these glasses may help alleviate symptoms of digital eye strain for some users. However, more research is still needed to conclusively prove these benefits.

Supporting Sleep Quality

Exposure to blue light before bed is known to disrupt the body's circadian rhythm and melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep. Blue light filtering glasses aim to block the wavelengths of light that can delay the onset of sleep. Some preliminary studies have found that wearing blue light glasses a few hours before bed may have modest benefits for sleep quality and daytime alertness. However, more rigorous research is still needed.

Long-Term Eye Health

There is limited evidence that chronic blue light exposure may contribute to macular degeneration over time. Blue light glasses are designed to filter blue-violet wavelengths that some research has linked to retinal cell damage. However, the vast majority of research has found no conclusive evidence that normal levels of screen use significantly increase the risk of macular degeneration or other serious eye diseases. More research is needed to determine if blue light glasses offer any long-term protective benefits.

In summary, while blue light glasses show promise for digital eye strain relief and sleep support for some, there is little evidence that they conclusively offer widespread benefits or effectively protect long-term eye health. For most, following the 20-20-20 rule, limiting screen time before bed, taking periodic breaks, and maintaining good sleep hygiene may be equally or more effective strategies. But for those who do experience bothersome symptoms from technology use, blue light glasses could be worth trying.

When Should Kids Start Wearing Blue Light Blocking Glasses?

Children today are exposed to blue light at an early age through the use of digital devices with LED screens like tablets, smartphones, and laptops. Their developing eyes are particularly vulnerable to the effects of blue light exposure. As a result, many eye care professionals recommend that children start wearing blue light blocking glasses as early as possible to limit potential long term damage.

For children under the age of two, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding screen time altogether. However, for school-age children and teenagers who do use digital devices for learning or entertainment, blue light glasses should be considered essential eye protection. Blue light blocking glasses can help prevent digital eye strain, reduce headaches, and support a healthy circadian rhythm for better sleep. They may even help improve focus and academic performance by decreasing distraction and eyestrain.

When choosing blue light glasses for children, look for options that block at least 30% of blue light in the 400 to 455 nm range, which includes the high energy visible (HEV) blue light wavelengths. Glasses that wrap around or include side shields will block more blue light from entering the eyes. Impact-resistant lenses and durable frames are also important for kids. Several companies offer stylish, kid-friendly blue light glasses options with these features for children starting around age 6 and up.

Teaching your kids good digital eye health habits from an early age is also important. Educate them about the effects of too much screen time and blue light exposure. Set limits for device use, especially before bedtime. And make wearing blue light blocking glasses part of their regular screen time routine, both at home and at school. Their eyes will thank you for it in the years to come.

Roger Sarkis