Do Blue Light Glasses Work? Optometrists and Eyewear Designers Weigh In
I've sustained an on-and-off-again relationship with blue light glasses for the last five years. Like many modern employees, my workday consists of hours spent staring at a computer screen. And though my vision is 20/20 (for now) I wasn't opposed to the idea of proactively protecting my eyes from strain. When I first spent a few weeks testing them out, I didn't really feel an improvement and if anything, I was perturbed with wearing unnecessary frames on my face. I wasn't convinced if blue light glasses actually worked and so I gave them up.
A month ago, wanting to find ways to focus on my health and wellness during my time in quarantine, I decided to give blue light glasses another go. This time around, though, I decided to reach out to a few specialists in the field with the hope of understanding the mechanics of blue light glasses and their efficacy. Ahead, hear from an optometrist as well as designers who offer blue light glasses to determine whether or not they're right for you.
"Blue light is the portion of the visible light spectrum with the shortest wavelengths and blue light glasses work by cancelling out this specific portion of the light spectrum," New York-based optometrist and Happy Eyes co-founder Dr. Kirk Kaupke tells TZR. The purpose of canceling out blue light deals with two main considerations. "The biggest effects we are seeing is on the circadian rhythm cycle and digital eye strain," Kaupke explains. "Blue light is naturally occurring from the sun and our brain traditionally associates blue light with daytime and suppresses melatonin production making it more difficult to doze off." While this may prove useful during the daytime, Kaupke says that "using screens into the evening keeps suppressing the melatonin and can make it more difficult to sleep." He recommends trying the glasses out from the afternoon onwards to encourage a healthier sleep cycle, though if your eyes feel strained, you can opt for all-day wear.
The effect of blue light glasses can be subtle, which accounts for my initial doubt. "Hopefully you are noticing your eyes feel a little more comfortable or you feel not as physically drained at the end of the day," Kaupke continues. "The benefits to your circadian rhythm cycle may not be as pronounced but that doesn't mean it's not helping." He also recommends to check in with your eye doctor if you feel blue light glasses are not helping. "There are other ocular health issues that may need to be addressed like a misalignment of the eyes or dry eyes," he adds.
For twins and founders of Coco and Breezy Corianna and Brianna Dotson, including blue light lenses in their line of eyewear was a necessity. "I used to get constant headaches and a lot of that had to do with my eyes straining from being in front of a digital device for too long," Corianna tells TZR. The duo wanted to marry their fashion-forward aesthetic with necessary function, transforming glasses into an It-accessory like their go-to bag. "Sometimes people shy away from wearing glasses with clear lenses if they don’t need vision correction," Brianna says. "We think of frames as an accessory to enhance your style so we figured why not include functionality into our designer frames? That way, consumers can be excited to wear them in front of their computer and as everyday wear."
Parisian label Izipizi is another example of an eyewear brand integrating blue light glasses into its assortment. Co-founder Quentin Couturier shares that the idea came from an observation. "In our technological world, the average person spends 50-plus hours a week using smartphones, tablets, watching computer screens and television or playing video games," he tells TZR. "Each of these screens are illuminated with LED backlight." With the aim of reducing this harm, Izipizi developed their SCREEN collection in 2015 with the designs filtering 40 percent of LED light emitted by screens.
Knowing what to look for and having a better grasp on how to properly use the glasses, my newest attempt has been a more successful one. Though I wouldn't label the positive side effects as dramatic, I can perceive an improvement in my eye dryness and ability to have a good night's sleep — especially on the evenings I plan on watching Netflix in bed. Below, shop a few of my favorite blue light glasses to help ease your eye strain, too.