Editor’s Note: While many people have used blue light blocking glasses to improve eye comfort and improve sleep, experts at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) don’t think they are necessary. There is currently no evidence that blue light causes digital eye strain, and the amount of blue light emanating from our devices is not enough to cause eye damage or disease.
Instead, AAO professionals recommend sitting an arm’s length away from your screen, taking frequent breaks, and keeping lubricating drops nearby (if your eyes tend to dry out). You can also improve your sleep by simply reducing the amount of time spent in front of a screen before bed.
Still curious about blue light blocking glasses? There is nothing wrong with trying them out, of course. But if you want to save time, one of our editors checked these glasses for you.
Here is what Gina Tomaine had to say about her experience.
I had heard of blue light blocking glasses before – they were yellow, ugly, and not worth the laughter I would get from both my roommates and coworkers if I wore them regularly.
But I had a problem: for my job, I had to spend at least eight hours a day staring at a computer screen. Also, unfortunately, in my free time after work, I often found myself staring at another smaller screen: the rectangle on my iPhone, which constantly cast more blue light on my face.
I often felt like my eyes were red and tired at the end of the day, and I wouldn’t feel the pain start to subside until I finally turned off my devices. According to The Vision Council, 200 million Americans report symptoms of digital eye strain (DES), eye discomfort that can be caused by staring at a screen for more than two hours straight.
Blue light by itself is not a bad thing. It’s everywhere, including in the sun. Researchers have determined that blue wavelengths – at the upper end of the light spectrum, just before UV – are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times and.
Until fairly recently, humans were primarily exposed to natural light during the day and darkness at night. But now we are constantly bathed in artificial light, mostly blue. Too much exposure to blue light at night suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles.
A study in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that when a group of young boys wore orange glasses while looking at their phones for a few hours before bed, they felt “much more sleepy” than when they wore clear glasses. Another study of 20 adults found similar results.
Here’s what I learned from wearing blue light blocking glasses for a week.
Blue light blocking glasses don’t have to be ugly.
The company I tried, Felix Gray, is a newer brand. Their glasses filter the upper end of the blue light spectrum, so the lens doesn’t look yellow. They also add an anti-glare coating on top to reduce digital eye strain.
The glasses are adorably chic as well, with options to add magnification if you need to. I opted for Nash frames in the “Whiskey Tortoise” pattern with blue light filtering and no magnification. The experiment was launched.
They made me more aware of my screen time.
In general, I only wear prescription glasses (which do not block the light) when driving. I found this when I had wearing my blue light glasses every time I looked at a screen made me more aware of how often I looked at a screen. I was surprised at how often I took out my laptop after I got home from work or just scrolled mindlessly on my phone.
As a result, I found myself more and more intentional to put the phone away and sat on the porch and read more at night. Even though my eyes were still working while looking at the pages of a book, letting them rest on another screen (the one I usually watched Netflix on) helped a lot and I slept better afterwards.
I have found other ways to recall blue light.
Since the glasses made me more aware of blue light, I tried to fix the problem with small fixes. My iPhone is now set to “Night Shift” from 9pm to 7am.
To do this yourself on an iPhone, you can go to Settings> Display & Brightness> Night Shift and set the time you usually start getting ready for bed. (You can also download apps that do this on other phones.)
I also focused on off-screen artificial blue light sources. I have learned that while LEDs are also increasingly popular as room lighting, they are not all the same. Warm white bulbs with less blue tend to perform better at night than cool white bulbs. There are also several bulbs that can change the color intensity of a light with an app, or you can buy downsized blue LED bulbs for warmer lights in bedrooms.
Wearing them was totally worth it.
My eyes felt more rested at the end of the day (likely due to the reduced screen time and glare) and looked noticeably less red and tired. Plus, I got tons of compliments on my new glasses.
I would recommend them to anyone worried about their digital eye strain, but I would also recommend trying to reduce LED lighting and screen time at night as much as possible. You can also try the 20-20-20 rule at work and at home: When working on a screen, every 20 minutes, watch something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds, an exercise recommended by the American Optometric Association.
As to how much I liked my blue light glasses? I’m done with my story – but I’m still wearing them right now.
If you want to try blue light blocking glasses
Here are some good options depending on your preferences and your price range, including the ones I tried:
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