Computer Screen Filters for Migraines: Do They Work?

Computer Screen Filters for Migraines: Do They Work?

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Computer monitors can cause a tremendous amount of stress on your eyes. Between intense focusing, reduced blinking, and excessive exposure to artificial blue light, long periods of computer use create the perfect recipe for migraine episodes. 

In this article, we’ll be exploring the connection between computer screens and migraines, signs to be aware of, and tips for reducing the occurrence of screen-induced migraines. Here’s what you need to know.

Can computer screens cause migraines? 

The short answer is yes: spending too much time staring at a computer screen can trigger headaches and migraines. One 2015 study found that young adults who spent over two hours daily using computers, tablets, smartphones, and TV had an increased likelihood of reporting a migraine episode. 

Now, in today’s modern world, two hours of screen time isn’t much at all. When you factor in the hours you spend using a computer for work, browsing the internet, attending Zoom meetings, following the news, checking email, and gaming, the average American logs almost eight hours a day staring at a digital screen. That’s more hours than most people sleep in one night! 

computer screen causing migraines

Why do computer screens cause migraines? 

There are a few reasons why prolonged computer use can increase the risk of migraines. First, the light reflecting off the computer screen and into your eyes (glare) can trigger symptoms in many sufferers.

Second, digital screens emit blue light—light that falls within the blue portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The sun also emits blue light. The artificial blue light from our devices is emitted at a lower level than the sun, but at closer proximity and for an extended length of time. Many migraine sufferers identify this bright blue light as a trigger for their migraine attacks.  

Third, intense staring while using a computer can lead to a number of eye- and vision-related problems, including eyestrain, dry eyes, blurriness that could contribute to developing a headache or migraine.

What are the symptoms of a migraine?

migraine symptoms

The primary symptom of a migraine is a headache that’s often described as pounding or throbbing. It can begin as a dull ache that can intensify to become severe. Some people also feel pain around their eyes, temples, sinuses, jaw, and neck. 

Aside from a debilitating headache, other common symptoms of a migraine include: 

 

  • Sensitivity to light, noise, and odors
  • Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, and abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Sweating and/or experiencing chills 
  • Feeling tired
  • Pale skin color 
  • Dizziness and blurred vision 
  • Tender scalp 

 

The headache portion of a migraine attack can last from four hours to three days, although other symptoms may take up to a week to dissipate. 

How can you prevent migraines due to computer use? 

migraine prevention

 

There are certain actions you can take to reduce or eliminate screen-induced migraines. One of the easiest and most effective things you can do is to use a blue light computer screen protector, blue light blocking glasses, or a blue light blocking app. Let’s take a closer look at these three options:

  • Blue light computer screen protector: A blue light computer screen protector is a panel that you adhere to your laptop screen. It blocks blue light, reduces glare, and protects your screen from scratches. 
  • Blue light blocking glasses: Blue light blocking glasses are eyewear that’s specifically designed to filter out harmful blue-violet light rays emitted from digital screens. The beauty of this option is that you can wear them not only while using computers, but also when using other digital devices that emit blue light, such as smartphones, TVs, and iPads. Blue light blocking glasses also effectively block screen glare—another potential migraine trigger. 
  • Blue light blocking apps: There are certain apps that you can install on your computer that automatically dim your computer screen and block blue light at night. 

 

Do blue light filters help with migraines? 

While more research is needed to answer this question definitively, there is tons of anecdotal evidence supporting the use of computer screen filters for migraines. After all, bright lights are known to both trigger and worsen migraines, so it makes sense to limit the amount of bright blue light you’re taking in via digital devices. 

When looking at the three blue light options above, there’s one option that stands tall above the rest: blue light blocking glasses. While a blue light screen protector might be useful for protecting your eyes while using a computer, each separate device will require a protector to get full protection from blue light.

Similarly, a blue light app might be helpful for blocking blue light in the evening and supporting a healthy sleep cycle, but it will only work on the device it’s installed on. Also, blue light apps don’t help with protecting against blue light during the day or reducing glare. 

Blue light glasses, on the other hand, cover all the bases. They effectively block blue light, reduce glare, can block blue light from any type of digital device, and in the case of GUNNAR glasses, offer slight magnification for easier viewing. They also don’t change the screen quality and sensitivity like a screen protector does. 

What else can you do to reduce migraines while using the computer? 

In addition to wearing blue light glasses while using digital devices, you can also apply the following tips to further reduce the incidence of screen-induced migraines: 

 

  • Keep your computer monitor at least 20-25 inches away from your eyes.
  • Keep the lighting in the room as bright as your monitor.
  • Avoid using digital devices in overly dark rooms.
  • Make your font as large as possible.
  • Take frequent breaks while working on a computer. Every 20 minutes, look at an object that is about 20 feet away for a full 20 seconds (20-20-20 rule).
  • Maintain good posture, as poor posture can lead to neck tension, which can contribute to headaches.

The bottom line 

If you’re interested in using blue light glasses to protect your eyes while using computers and other digital devices, it’s important to select a high-quality pair that blocks a significant amount of blue light. 

GUNNAR is the only patented gaming and computer eyewear recommended by doctors to protect and enhance your vision. GUNNAR blue light glasses address many symptoms associated with prolonged computer use, including headaches, blurry vision, glare, the potential  negative effects of artificial blue light, eye strain, and fatigue.

Take a look at GUNNAR’s wide selection of blue light gaming and computer glasses and pick out your perfect pair today!

a gamer wearing gunnar valve glasses
Dr. Zilnicki Author Contributor

Dr. Zilnicki, O.D., F.C.O.V.D. is part owner of Twin Forks Optometry & Vision Therapy in Long Island. With her business partner, Dr. Jessica Licausi, she co-hosts the podcast “Vision is More Than 20/20”. She is also an active member and fellow of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.

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