Even if you've never worn prescription eyeglasses a day in your life, you've probably heard about blue light glasses — and, more than likely, you've been told you should be wearing them. It's a trendy topic that's easy to buy into: Blue light is allegedly bad for your eyes, so you should wear glasses that filter the light out. "We constantly get emails and messages from customers saying they heard about blue light-blocking glasses on their favorite podcast or that their favorite Instagram personality has recommended them," Daniel Nugent — founder of the blue light glasses company Ambr Eyewear — tells The Zoe Report via email.
Popping on a pair of glasses sounds easy enough, right? However, while the solution may be simple, the reasons that you should invest in the blue light glasses trend are complex. Especially if you've ever been notified by your phone's Screen Time feature you're clocking hours on your device. "Mostly, the reason people want the glasses is because they’re working at a screen eight hours a day," Nugent adds. "They’re suffering from constant headaches and eye strain, and they’re mostly coming to us to provide some sort of relief — because decreasing screen time isn’t an option."
But what is blue light, why is it linked to screens, and how does it impact your eyesight? "Blue light is a certain range of light existing on the visible light spectrum. It’s described as a ‘high-energy visible light’ due to its short wavelengths and high frequency, close in range to UV light," Ambr Eyewear's Dr. Katie Johnson explains to The Zoe Report over email. "Blue light can be found all around us — after all, it comes from our sun too — but it’s the blue light emitted from LED screens that’s attracting the most attention from health professionals."
According to Dr. Johnson, blue light is worrisome to professionals for two reasons: It may encourage sleep disorders and something known as macular degeneration. And you've probably experienced at least one of those things if you've ever been browsing Instagram on your phone in bed, late at night — and found yourself unable to fall asleep. "It’s mostly agreed that melatonin levels are negatively impacted by blue light. By staring into a bright screen, you’re essentially tricking your brain into the illusion of daylight," Dr. Johnson says. "Studies have shown that by wearing blue light-blocking glasses in the evening, melatonin levels can increase by as much as 58 percent — encouraging better sleep."
And being able to peacefully fall asleep is definitely a good thing. However, it's not the only reason you're seeing blue light glasses pop up everywhere. "The macular degeneration side of things is a bit more worrying. While we’re still not at all sure of the long-term consequences of all this screen use, there’s certainly some warranted concern," Dr. Johnson adds. "We’re looking at a global epidemic of myopia, with half of young adults in the US and Europe now affected. This is double the ratio half a century ago. While screen use probably isn’t totally to blame, it is certainly one of the big lifestyle changes that happened over that time."
Dr. Johnson also noted one University of Toledo report that claimed toxic, macular degeneration-causing molecules can be triggered by blue light. "We don’t have all the facts yet, but our company certainly feels that there’s a need to take preventative measures for peace of mind alone," Dr. Johnson says.
And you may want some peace of mind, too. Ahead, 10 pairs of blue light glasses that'll help protect your eyes — in style.