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December 2020

Blue Light Supplements on the Rise

As more people work remotely and children participate in distance-learning, time spent in front of screens has skyrocketed. The backlit displays from smartphones, tablets and computer screens almost all use LED lights, which emit light on the blue spectrum. The verdict is out as to whether increased blue light exposure from screens actually causes adverse effects. But there are claims that it can cause various issues, including blurred vision, eye strain, fatigue, headache, and sleeping problems. So you should be prepared to answer questions about blue light supplements – products marketed to combat these effects.

A variety of new blue light supplements are being marketed to both children and adults. Viteyes Blue Light Defender Kids and MaculaPF Blue Light Protection are two examples. These types of products typically contain a variety of ingredients, including riboflavinlutein, and astaxanthin. Early research shows that taking a combination product containing lutein might help eye strain, but it’s unclear if it helps protect against blue light exposure specifically. When it comes to riboflavin and astaxanthin, they’ve been studied for other eye conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but there’s no clinical data supporting their use for blue light exposure. If patients ask about these or similar products, tell them that while there aren’t any major safety concerns, there isn’t any strong evidence that they help. So, they might be wasting their money.

While it’s not clear if supplements will help, there are some steps patients can take to minimize eye strain due to screen use. Tell patients to take breaks from looking at the screen. If they have long meetings or classes online, suggest they shift their focus away from the screen every 20 minutes to an object 20 feet away, for 20 seconds – the “20-20-20” rule. Also recommend turning down screen brightness, and setting smartphones and tablets to nighttime modes. Moisturizing eye drops might also help relieve eye strain and dryness. Lastly, for those struggling with sleep issues, recommend parents and children alike turn all screens off about 2 hours before bed.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2021 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.