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You may have seen websites, articles, or even gaming sites going on about blue light glasses and the benefits they will give you if you find yourself drifting into that place where you simply have too much screentime/
As phone and even app manufacturers like YouTube swing their focus around to how they are really just thinking about your health by introducing screentime counters and dark modes to reduce emitted blue light, is there something we can actually do on our own?
A counter-argument that the big companies don’t actually care about you really could be had that if they care about reducing your screen consumption so much they would stop sending you push notifications to try and lure you back into their ecosystems, but that is another argument for another time.
So, where can I get blue light glasses? Are blue light glasses worth it? What even are blue light glasses? If you’re looking for the answer to any of these questions, or if you want to know why your eyes might be so tired, especially if you have increased your screentime during all the various lockdowns, you’re in the right place.
Between Zoom meetings with colleagues while working from home and binging Netflix while scrolling through TikTok (yes, simultaneously), the time we’ve spent looking at screens during lockdown has unsurprisingly increased. A survey by HighSpeedInternet found that screen time in the US was up 53% in May this year. While screen time is definitely the least of our worries right now, spending too much time looking at screens can have adverse effects such as poor sleep, increased migraines, eye strain, and dry eyes.
This is where blue light glasses come in.
Blue light glasses are essentially made to help filter out some of the blue light that comes from screens. Blue light doesn’t only come from screens – it’s actually everywhere, and a little bit is good for our awareness, memory, and mood – but striking a balance between too much and just enough has clearly proven difficult under current circumstances. That’s probably why the demand for these glasses spiked mid-lockdown. Too much exposure to unnatural blue light, especially at night, can cause a reduction in the secretion of melatonin – a hormone that regulates sleep cycles.
Blue light glasses work by filtering out the “high energy blue light frequencies from the visible light spectrum,” according to manufacturer, Lumes.
Despite a lack of actual hardcore research, there are ways to test whether your blue light glasses are legit. Many of them come with a blue flashlight, which you can shine on the lenses to see whether “the light gets blocked or does not go through the lenses like other lenses without the coating” which means they’re working, Andy Bilinsky, co-founder of direct-to-consumer eyewear platform Lensabl told Forbes.
There are loads of satisfied customers who have reaped the benefits of blue light glasses, at least in their own opinion.
Abbey, who is prone to insomnia and night time iPhone scrolling, told me it was the research around melatonin and sleep that swayed her, stating that they really did help her to regulate her sleep cycle. Gabriella, who snagged a pink pair for $9 on Amazon also saw improvements sleep-wise.
Another advocate for blue light glasses, Rose told me that her’s have helped with migraines, which she tends to suffer from: “I use them a lot. I get migraines very easily and find they really help. I wear them if I’m at my computer for long periods or when I teach at the university as I find the lighting really harsh there”. She even wears them to events!
The question of whether or not they’re worth isn’t as simple. In a review for blue light glasses, Good Housekeeping stated that experts from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) do not think they are necessary. Although the reviewer did see a decrease in eye strain once she started wearing them, she also spent less time looking at screens because the glasses served as a reminder to take a break. The AAO said that keeping your screen at arm’s length, taking frequent breaks, and limiting screen time before bed can prove to be equally effective.
Balinsky told Forbes that if you decide to go for anti-reflective coatings, which only block 20-30% of blue light, but you’re looking at a screen all day that might not be enough. However, blocking 100% of blue light might be harmful to your eyes, too. Going for some blue-light lenses, which block around 80%, might be better. Watch out for the ones that are visibly tinged yellow or orange, though – especially if you’re a designer or someone who needs to see color accurately – because they’ll ultimately change the way you see the world (while you’re wearing them, that is) and you can easily find a pair of clear looking ones these days.
Paul has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision. He spent over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title. Has written gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian Playstation Magazine, PlayStation Pro, Amiga Action, Mega Action, ST Action, GQ, Loaded, and the Daily Mirror. Former champion shoot 'em-up legend