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From computers and smartphones to television and e-readers, our technological devices provide us with many benefits, for both work and pleasure. But use these devices too close to bedtime, and the benefits come at a cost.
The intense blue light emitted by these devices disrupts our sleep-wake cycle, energizing your brain and inhibiting melatonin production (the hormone that initiates sleep).
If you’re working on your computer, watching TV, or checking Facebook right up until bed, and are unwilling—or unable—to change your schedule, blue-light blocking glasses can be your brain’s protection against strong blue light. Like the night filter on your phone, the lenses in these glasses block out blue wavelengths before your eyes perceive them. This keeps the blue light at bay, so it doesn’t interfere with your brain’s normal melatonin production.
Blue-light blocking glasses were developed to address our society’s always-on culture, and prevent it from affecting our ideal sleep-wake cycles. As a new technology, and one that’s not yet regulated by the FDA, you’ll need to wade through some marketing claims to find the most effective pair for you.
Browse our top picks, and read our buyer’s guide to make an informed, pro-sleep shopping decision.
Best Blue-Light Blocking Glasses
Editor’s Choice – Uvex Skyper Blue Light Blocking Computer Glasses with SCT-Orange Lens
Best Daytime Only – J+S Vision Blue Light Shield Computer Reading/Gaming Glasses
Best Prescription Strength – Eyekepper BB98 Slim Vintage Computer Readers Reading Glasses
Best Nighttime Only – Spectra479 Blue Blocking Amber Glasses for Sleep
The Uvex Skyper blue-light blocking glasses are a customer favorite, due to both their effectiveness and wearing comfort. Plus, at under $10 a pop, they’re extremely affordable.
Thanks to the fitover styling, you can wear the Uvex Skyper on top of your regular glasses. The fitover style lends an additional benefit, as the extended lens on the sides blocks out peripheral blue light. The adjustable temple length allows users to custom-fit the glasses to their head, ensuring comfort. The temple tips are cushioned, too, so you can avoid that uncomfortable “digging in” feeling behind your ears.
The Uvex lens itself can be adjusted to 3 positions, accommodating different viewing needs (dual-monitor setups, computer vs. smartphone viewing, and more) to avoid neck and back strain. The spectrum control technology (SCT) promises to block out 98% of blue light.
The J+S Vision Blue Light Shield glasses line has something for everyone. Shoppers can pick from classic rectangular frames, round frames, or wayfarer frames—each available in black or tortoise shell. These frames are stylishly designed, and with a light-colored lens, they appear like a trendy pair of glasses instead of technical gear.
There are also two different lens options: a low color distortion (LCD) lens that minimizes the color distortion (a good choice for people with color-sensitive work, such as graphic designers), and a high definition (HD) lens that focuses on clarity and glare reduction (ideal for extended computer use or gaming). The J+S Vision glasses block out 90% of blue light in the 400-430 nm wavelengths.
The lenses themselves were durably constructed, with 7-layer anti-reflective coating and hydrophobic treatment. However, the J+S Vision glasses are more expensive, costing up to three times the price of the other lenses on our list.
The Eyekepper attempts to balance all needs. The glasses are available in up to 16 frame styles and lens color variations to suit different style preferences.
Shoppers can choose from transparent, orange, or amber tinted lenses. The orange tinted lens, which we’ve chosen for our list, is the BB98 model. It does the best job of blocking blue light, blocking 95% of light in the 395-500 nm wavelengths. However, Eyekepper acknowledges the BB98 causes serious color distortion.
As these are designed like traditional frames, Eyekepper made them available in both non-prescription and 14 prescription strength options, so people can switch out their regular reading glasses with these whenever they’re working. Depending on the lens and prescription strength chosen, the lenses range from $10 to $30.
The Blue Blocking Amber Glasses by Spectra479 are one of the most effective blue-light blocking glasses on the market, blocking 99.8% of blue light in the 280-510 nm wavelengths. That’s one of the widest ranges you’ll find with blue-light blocking glasses.
The Spectra479 glasses feature a wraparound style, preventing peripheral blue light from hitting your eyes. The dark amber lens is designed for nighttime wear only, so you won’t want to wear these during the day. However, what you lose in flexibility you earn back in effectiveness for blocking blue light when you most need it blocked—at night.
The Spectra479 Amber Glasses for Sleep are one of the more expensive blue-light blocking glasses, but if you’re especially sensitive to light and really want to ensure you can wind down before bed, the price may be worth it (and they’re still well below $50).
Gamma Ray’s Blue-Light Blocking Computer Glasses make things simple. There is one lens color, one frame color, one unisex size designed to fit most adult men and women, and no prescription strength available.
The black frames feature a lightweight style which looks good on a wider range of faces than some of the heavier frames in this list. The frames are TX-compatible so the lenses can be replaced by an optometrist with the correct prescription strength.
Gamma Ray has traditionally sold UV and blue-light blocking glasses for daytime computer use, but these are their first pair focused specifically on aiding sleep.
Blue-light blocking glasses go by a variety of names, including video gaming glasses or computer reading glasses, but they all do the same thing—block out intense blue light. Here are the key design features to look out for as you shop for your pair.
Understanding how blue-light blocking glasses work, and how to use them safely, will help you determine what kind of pair you need. Review the questions below to learn more.
You may have noticed blue-light blocking glasses have different colored lenses, usually yellow, amber, or orange. These lenses reflect blue light away from your irises, blocking the light before your brain has the opportunity to perceive it as sunlight.
When you wear blue-light blocking glasses, particularly at night, you create an environment for your eyes that mimics the natural reduction in sunlight that occurs in the evening. As a result, your brain will begin melatonin production at the appropriate time, allowing you to fall asleep more easily.
Our brains are especially sensitive to the blue light digital devices emit. In fact, our brains interpret it as sunlight, which is why using these devices helps us feel more awake and alert.
While this is a benefit when we’re trying to work and be productive, it can be a problem when you use the devices into the evening—a time when your brain needs to wind down for sleep. The blue light keeps our brain from “turning off” and starting melatonin production, delaying sleepiness.
No matter your age, if you use blue light devices, especially at night, you can benefit from wearing blue-light blocking glasses.
Blue-light blocking glasses offer many benefits to their wearer.
First and foremost, they help facilitate normal melatonin production. One study compared participants who wore blue-light blocking glasses 3 hours before bedtime against those who didn’t. The ones who wore the glasses enjoyed deeper sleep and reported improvements in mood.
Blue light blocking glasses also minimize the eye strain we suffer from when we’ve stared at our computer screens for too long. The symptoms of eye strain are uncomfortable, and include headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain.
Eye strain develops after prolonged use of electronic devices (defined as 2 hours or longer in one sitting). Unfortunately, 80% of adults report using electronic devices for at least that amount of time on a daily basis, with over two-thirds using multiple devices at the same time.
Prolonged or frequent exposure to blue light at night has also been linked to increased cancer risk, in particular among shift workers. This may be due to the disruption their circadian rhythms experience from working at night.
You can wear these types of glasses all day long, although you’ll want to switch out the particular lens you are using.
Lighter, yellow lenses are better for the daytime, and you can wear them whenever you are in front of your computer working indoors. When you go outside, take your glasses off so your brain can get a boost of natural sunlight. Receiving natural sunlight during the day helps reinforce your natural circadian rhythms. It helps your brain better detect the difference in light when the sun lowers in the evening.
For indoors electronic activity at night, darker red or amber lenses are better. Start wearing your glasses 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. The darker the lens, the more blue light it blocks out, which is why darker lenses are recommended for nighttime.
If you wear darker lenses during the day, your brain may be likely to overproduce melatonin or start production earlier than it should, just because the glasses are so effective at blocking out bright light, including the natural sunlight entering through your office windows. As a result, you’ll experience a disruption to your circadian cycle and feel tired earlier than you should.
As they can cause serious color distortion, avoid wearing blue-light blocking glasses when driving.
Limit your use of digital devices during the day whenever possible, and take breaks to avoid prolonged use. For instance, every 20 minutes, avert your eyes from the screen for 20 seconds and look at something 20 feet away.
At night, switch on the red-light filter app on any devices that include this functionality. Sleep experts recommend not using electronic devices within 1 hour of bedtime, to allow your brain to start winding down for sleep. If you can, follow their advice.
Finally, get plenty of sleep! Let your eyes rest by ensuring you get your 7+ hours of shuteye in nightly.