Home Mind + Body From Alzheimer’s to Bipolar to Insomnia:  How blue light-blocking glasses help

From Alzheimer’s to Bipolar to Insomnia:  How blue light-blocking glasses help

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You may be surprised to learn that blue light-blocking glasses’ benefits go beyond the traditional applications for computer/screen eye fatigue! Blue light-blocking glasses are generally amber, yellow, orange, or brown colored lenses that block the blue light from reaching your eye.

Blue light blocking lenses are finding their way into a wide range of practical applications.  In a study with young adults at college with sleep complaints, the glasses were able to sleep longer and wake fewer times throughout the night.  Similarly, a study with adolescent males found that the glasses prevented LED-induced suppression of melatonin in the evening and reduced alertness before bedtime.  In March 2019, another study with adults suffering from insomnia concluded that after using blue light blocking glasses at night, processing speed and working memory improved!

Most astounding is the effect that blue light glasses are having on patients with Bipolar Disorder.  This study on adults with Bipolar mania wore the glasses from 6 pm to 8 am for one week (in conjunction with their current treatments) and found that the mania itself was decreased.

Blue light glasses can also helpful for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  Due to the role that melatonin plays in neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke, it is believed that melatonin itself is neuroprotective.  Wearing blue light glasses may prevent the decline in melatonin associated with some of these conditions.

For those already suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, blue light blocking glasses may help restore the natural circadian rhythm to help them sleep better at night.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, exposing them to blue light can increase alertness during the day when they should be active. Other forms of light therapy have helped restore patients’ cycles, such as dawn-dusk light simulations and blue light exposure at regulated times. (4)

I think it’s worth a try to slip these glasses on at night as we unwind (generally from 5 or 6 pm until bedtime).  There is a wide range of glasses and styles available, even ones that fit over your regular prescription eyeglasses, or clip on's for your prescription eyeglasses.  There are some slimmer versions for when you’re just avoiding the light from the computer and some old-school wraparound styles for those wanting to block all the light at night.

I’m planning on trying it out!

Our technology isn’t going anywhere; but unlike our technology which is easily replaced when it stops working correctly, our eyes are here to stay.

References

  1. Perez Algorta, Guillermo et al. “Blue blocking glasses worn at night in first year higher education students with sleep complaints: a feasibility study.” Pilot and feasibility studies vol. 4 166. 1 Nov. 2018, doi:10.1186/s40814-018-0360-y
  2. Van der Lely, Stephanie, et al. “Blue Blocker Glasses as a Countermeasure for Alerting Effects of Evening Light-Emitting Diode Screen Exposure in Male Teenagers.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 56, no. 11, Jan. 2015, pp. 113–119., doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.08.002.
  3. Zimmerman, ME, et al. “Neuropsychological Function Response to Nocturnal Blue Light Blockage in Individuals With Symptoms of Insomnia: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Study.” J Int Neuropsychol Soc, vol. 25, no. 7, Aug. 2019, pp. 668–677., doi:10.1017/S1355617719000055.
  4. Henriksen, TE, et al. “Blue-Blocking Glasses as Additive Treatment for Mania: a Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Bipolar Disord., vol. 18, no. 3, May 2016, pp. 221–32., doi:10.1111/bdi.12390.
  5. Musiek, Erik S et al. “Sleep, circadian rhythms, and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease.” Experimental & molecular medicine vol. 47,3 e148. 13 Mar. 2015, doi:10.1038/emm.2014.121
  6. Hanford, Nicholas, and Mariana Figueiro. “Light therapy and Alzheimer's disease and related dementia: past, present, and future.” Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD vol. 33,4 (2013): 913-22. doi:10.3233/JAD-2012-121645

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