High street chemist and optician chain Boots has been ordered to withdraw an advert which claimed blue light from gadgets such as smartphones and LED TVs could damage the user's eyes. The advert asked: "Did you know that some blue light, from smartphone screens to sunshine, can affect your eyes?" before claiming Boots Protect Plus Blue lenses could protect the eye from retinal damage caused by blue light.
"Many modern gadgets," ran the ad, "whether it's a fancy LED TV or your smartphone, as well as sunlight and energy-saving light bulbs, give off a certain kind of blue light that can cause your retinal cells to deteriorate over time." The ad continued: "'For £70, new Boots Protect Plus Blue lenses come with a special finish that filters out the harmful blue light and eases eye strain and fatigue."
However, the claims in the ad, which appeared in the national press in January 2015, were disputed by a pharmacist and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) became involved. The ASA asked Boots to provide evidence to support their claims and also assessed scientific evidence about the risks from blue light to the human eye.
The ASA found that blue light from gadgets such as smartphones was far below that found in normal daylight and that the filters reduced exposure only by a small amount. The ASA judgement stated: "Because the evidence was not sufficient to establish a direct link between harmful blue light and retinal damage over time, we concluded that the claims were misleading and had not been substantiated." The advert must now be withdrawn, ruled the ASA.
However, a spokeswoman for the chain said: "As a health-led Optician we are at the forefront of developing new solutions for our customers, including blue light filtering technology. We are disappointed that the ASA did not accept the clinical evidence we provided." More evidence would be provided, she added.