Key Design Features of Blue-Light Blocking Glasses
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.
- Blue-light blocking range: Quality blue-light blocking glasses will note the percentage of total blue light blocked, as well as the specific range of wavelengths. Look for glasses that block at least 90% of blue light.
- Lens color: The lens color can range from yellow to orange and even a dark red. The darkness of the lens is one indicator of how much blue light is blocked out. Darker lenses are better for nighttime use, while lighter lenses are better for daytime computer use. When you plan to use the glasses will determine the lens color you should pick.
- Frame color: Blue-light blocking glasses come in a variety of frame styles and colors to suit different preferences, but as they serve a utilitarian purpose, you’ll generally find them limited to black or tortoise shell frames.
- Head size: Blue-light blocking glasses can be beneficial for people of all ages, as long as they’re using digital devices for an extended period of time. Some brands make their glasses available in kids’ versions. Most adult versions are available in a unisex size intended to fit most average-sized heads.
- Fit-over style: If you already wear eyeglasses for a vision problem, you’ll want to either wear contacts with your glasses (which may be uncomfortable on your eyes), or buy a pair that’s created in the fit-over style. These are designed to fit easily over the glasses you’re already wearing.
- Prescription strength: Some blue-light blocking glasses come with magnification options to match prescription strength. Like reading glasses, these glasses will have the same magnification in both lenses (as opposed to the more custom magnification options you’ll find in prescription lenses).
Important Shopping Considerations for Blue-Light Blocking Glasses
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.
How do blue-light blocking glasses work?
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.
Do I need blue-light blocking glasses?
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.
What are the benefits of 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.
When should I wear my blue-light blocking glasses?
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.
What else can I do to protect my eyes?
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.