Question and Answer: Is There a Link between Intraocular Lenses and Sleep Problems?

Q: After my husband's cataract surgery, he started having trouble sleeping. Could his blue-blocking intraocular lenses be responsible?

A: Blue-blocking intraocular lenses (IOLs) have a theoretical benefit for protecting the retina from damage from exposure to short-wavelength light; however this has never been documented in human trials.

Nevertheless, some researchers have theorized that these IOLs may cause insomnia. That's because the eye detects circadian cycles of light and dark, which, in turn, affects the body's regulation of sleep. By blocking blue light, these IOLs might create conditions similar to darkness even during daylight, thus disturbing ordinary sleep patterns.

An investigation into decades of research into blue-blocking IOLs, published last year in the journal Survey of Ophthalmology, disputes this theory. The investigators found no difference in sleep patterns between people with blue-blocking IOLs and ultraviolet-blocking IOLs and contend that it is unlikely that replacing the cataract with an IOL would disrupt sleep more than the cataract, because cataracts also block light.

In any case, your husband's insomnia should not be taken lightly. He should discuss his sleeping difficulties with his primary care physician. She or he can evaluate the problem and, if necessary, prescribe treatment.

Publication Review By: Susan B. Bressler, M.D., Harry A. Quigley, M.D., Oliver D. Schein, M.D., M.P.H.

Published: 28 Feb 2011

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015