Monday, April 19

Seeing Opportunity in the Blue Light Glasses Trend—Could It Be Your Next Business Idea?

Tired woman with headache uses a computer at home

If there’s one universal trait shared by nearly all entrepreneurs and small business owners, it’s the hours we keep. We either get up early or go to sleep late—or both (I’m writing this article at 2 a.m.). And most of our waking hours are spent staring at a computer or phone screen.

As a result, many of us—and others who spend a lot of time in front of electronic devices (accountants, writers, graphic designers, just to name a few)—suffer from headaches, eye strain, bad sleep habits, and other assorted maladies.

Our devices emit a high-energy blue light, which is thought to be the source of the problems. To screen or filter the light, some people are increasingly turning to blue light eyewear as a possible solution (it’s also an entrepreneurial opportunity). But not everyone believes these glasses work.

Blocking blue light: does it really help?

In an article on WebMD, the American Academy of Ophthalmology states that we don’t need blue light glasses, advises against wearing any type of special eyewear for computer use, and adds that blue light does not cause eyestrain.

However, in the same article, The Vision Council says “specialized glasses” might indeed reduce eyestrain. And the former president of the American Optometric Association told USA Today he recommends using blue light glasses to lessen eyestrain.

WebMD says blue light glasses are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) because they’re not marketed as a medical device. Blue light, according to the article, is everywhere, with most of it coming from the sun. But our digital devices do emit a “brighter, shorter-wavelength (more bluish) light.”

The Harvard Health Letter cites some studies that “suggest [but don’t prove] a link between exposure to light at night [and] diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.” Studies conducted at Harvard and the University of Toronto show a potential link between being exposed to blue light at night and the secretion of melatonin, which can interfere with our sleep cycles. Other research has shown that not getting enough sleep can increase your risk for depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.

The University of Toronto researchers suggest wearing eyewear that blocks blue light prevents the disruption of our sleep cycles. WebMD reports on a study conducted by the University of Houston which found wearing blue light glasses “showed about a 58% increase in nighttime melatonin levels.”

While the American Academy of Ophthalmology advises people to “decrease evening screen time” to help reduce eyestrain, that may not be actionable advice for small business owners working round the clock. One solution suggested in The Harvard Health Letter is to “consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.” The University of Toronto recommends if you’re going to wear blue light glasses, use eyewear that blocks blue light only.

The entrepreneurial opportunity

That’s where the entrepreneurial opportunity comes in. According to a Market Study Report, the global market for blue light eyewear will grow from $22 million in 2020 to $38 million by 2024. With that in mind, entrepreneurs Adam Rizza, Dave Weidetz, and Wally Rizza started their company BLNQ earlier this year.

As small business owners themselves, they realized how much time they spent in front of their digital screens. This was underscored by the results of a survey taken last year by Pew Research, showing 28% of American adults say they go online “almost constantly,” up from 21% in 2015.

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BLNQ blue light glasses, which are crafted with Italian acetate frames, use a Q-TEC™ Lens Formula, which is a “premium anti-reflective coating” that eliminates computer glare, reduces eyestrain, and filters out the worst part of the blue light.

The company, which sells its products on its website, is off to a strong start despite the challenging economy. The increased demand for blue light glasses creates opportunities for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers/e-tailers.

Tips for taking care of your eyes

Regardless of whether or not you plan to start a business to help others reduce eyestrain, it’s important you watch after your own eye health. One way to reduce eyestrain is to follow the 20-20-20 rule: after 20 minutes of looking at a computer screen, you should look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. In addition, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends:

  • Keeping your eyes about 25 inches from the screen.
  • Position the screen so you’re gazing slightly downward.
  • Use a matte screen filter on the screen to reduce glare.
  • Use artificial tears when your eyes feel dry.
  • If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes a break by wearing glasses every so often.

RELATED: 6 Tips for Staying Healthy at Work (When You’re a Small Business Owner)

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