Why is it that we can’t keep our sticky fingers away from smartphones, tablets, laptops? Why is it that, in the dead of night, right before going to sleep, we still worry about what our classmate vacationing in Brazil is doing–and so pore over his Instagram? Even though you knew that the blue light from your phone messes up your body clock and makes it so you can’t fall into deep sleep. (Right?)
Well, you compulsive Instagrammer, Tweeter, Youtuber, whatever-er, good news. You don’t have to get off your device anymore. Slip on a pair of blue light blocking glasses two or three hours before bed, and sleep like a baby even if you’re watching play-throughs until midnight. But with all the different shapes and tints and brands, how do you know what works and what doesn’t? Let’s talk.
What Blue Light Glasses Can Do for You
Before we break out our buying guide, there’s a few myths about blue light and blue light glasses we’d like to bust. You can’t really make an informed decision until you know what science has and hasn’t proved.
Do I Even Need Blue Light Glasses? Probably, but Not to Help with Digital Eye Strain
We’re going to give it to you straight; the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has stated that there’s no evidence–at least right now–connecting the blue light your computer emits to macular degeneration (a kind of vision loss).
Actually, blue light is everywhere. The sun up above emits it. (Why do you think the sky’s blue? The answer in a nutshell: blue light.) And the amount of blue light your smartphone gives off is only a fraction of what the sun gives off.
So, why do our eyes get tired after sitting in front of a computer all day? Well, it’s because you’ve been staring at a fixed spot for hours, barely blinking. So don’t think that slipping on a pair of blue light glasses will magically make your eyes feel like new. Rather, the AAO suggests you follow the 20-20-20 rule: look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Okay–you say–so what are blue light glasses good for?
Blue Light Glasses Help Insomniacs and the Light Sensitive
Use number one: if fluorescent lighting at the mall or hours in front of a computer trigger migraines for you, you probably have photophobia. That doesn’t mean you have a debilitating fear of light–just that you’re more sensitive to it than most people. Blue light glasses dull the light. So many photophobics, after slipping on a pair, report that their headaches fade in a matter of days.
Use number two: you’ve probably heard that staring at Instagram right before bed is not good for shut-eye. Remember how the sun also emits blue light? Well, it turns out that blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone. During the day, it’s a good thing; it keeps us bright-eyed and bushy tailed and awake at our desks.
But at night, exposure to blue light throws off our circadian rhythm (a.k.a. our body clock). But, come on, it’s the 20th century–we don’t expect you to put down your phone as soon as the clock strikes eight. Instead, slipping on a pair of blue light glasses two hours before bed has been shown to improve sleep quality. If you’re a light sleeper, these might just turn you into Sleeping Beauty.
How to Choose Blue Light Blocking Glasses – A Buying Guide
So, now you know what blue light glasses can and can’t do for you. Next, let’s talk about how to choose a pair that’ll suit you.
How Much Blue Light Do I Need to Block out? Depends on Your Needs
You’ve probably seen two types of blue light blocking glasses on the market–ones that are clear and look pretty normal, and ones that are super orange and make you look like Bono. Both are necessary in their own different ways.
If You Can’t Get to Sleep after Surfing the Web, Get Orange Glasses
So, first up are the glasses that make you look like Bono. These glasses are actually the strongest and block out upwards of 90% of blue light. They’re also called computer glasses. Because they’re so effective, they’ll help you adjust your body clock by encouraging melatonin production. We recommend them if you’re often up late at night, watching Netflix or Youtube, and can’t get to bed.
But your Bono glasses are heavily tinted. They distort the colors on your screen, so they’re a pain in the neck for graphic designers and illustrators. Also not the best if you just laid down big money for the 4K and HDR compatible PlayStation 4 Pro. And many people think the yellow-orange tint makes you look silly–though we personally find it quite dashing.
If You’re Light Sensitive or Don’t Want Your Colors Getting Warped, Get Clear Glasses
These aren’t completely free from tint, but it’s subtle enough that the colors on your screen look pretty much the same. (White comes off a little amber though.) So if color fidelity’s important to you–whether it’s because you’re a designer or you want your Technicolor films to look just right–then clear’s a better choice.
You can also wear these around town without a) looking like Bono or b) feeling like the world’s two shades too dark. That’s why these are a godsend for the photophobic, who need protection from light all the time. They usually only block 25 to 50% of blue light, but that’s enough to clear up most light-induced migraines and tension headaches.
Looking for Something Lightweight, Hypoallergenic, or Classy? See What the Frames Are Made out of
The materials used for frames have all got a different look, feel, and purpose to them. Here are a few of the most common–see what appeals to you.
Plastic: Lighter, with More Color Options
Zyl (also known as cellulose acetate, or just acetate) is most commonly used for frames because it’s cheap and can take on almost any color imaginable. A lot of zyl frames are different colors on the inside and outside–and lighter colors on the inside a) look cool and b) aren’t as noticeable in your peripherals. But zyl gets brittle with age and is the heaviest of the plastics.
Nylon is lightweight and really difficult to break. That’s why it’s often used to make sports glasses.
TR90’s a relatively new kind of plastic that is heat-, stress-, and impact-resistant. Plus, it’s super lightweight. It’s a good alternative if acetate irritates you.
Metal: Classy and Malleable
Monel, on the other hand, is the most commonly used in metal frames. It’s a mixture, usually copper and nickel. It’s malleable and resists corrosion, but, of course, isn’t an option for anyone allergic to nickel.
What’s not to love about titanium? It’s hypoallergenic, super strong, and half as heavy as other metals. It’s also the most expensive.
Beryllium and stainless steels are both cheaper alternatives to titanium. They’re strong and don’t tarnish easily.
Turn Heads at Work: Get Frames that Match the Shape of Your Face
If you’re getting these to wear an hour or two before bed, then you might not care about looking like a total dork. But if you’re going to wear blue light glasses around town, or in front of your coworkers, then it’s worth getting frames that flatter your face.
Oval or Round Faces: Angular Glasses Will Sweep up Your Face
In general, oval faces can wear any frames. That’s because they’re balanced–about twice as long as they are wide, with a chin that’s only a bit smaller than the forehead. But they look extra good in glasses that suit round faces.
Round faces have got full cheeks and no angles. That’s why rectangular and sharp frames (such as your classic cateye) look so good–they sharpen you up and accent the cheekbones.
Square Faces: Round Glasses Will Soften You up
You’ve got a square face if your forehead is broad, your jawline strong and your chin square. Again, the general rule with frames is contrast. Round and oval frames will add some flowing curves to your face, making you softer and irresistible.
Heart Faces: Go for Something Thin or Bottom-Heavy
The loveable heart face has a wide forehead and narrow jawline. You don’t want top-heavy styles; it’ll draw too much attention to your brow. Instead, try for something wider and heavier at the bottom to counterbalance the shape of your face. Or, you can get thin frames for an overall airy look.
Always out in the Sun or in Front of a Screen? Look for Extra Features
If you’re photophobic, chances are UV rays also irritate your eyes. If you’re going to be out and about, look for blue light glasses that also include UV light in their spectrum.
Most of us, however, are going to be using these glasses in front of a computer or smartphone. So get something that’ll cut down on glare. It’ll make the screen clearer and your eyes sting less. They can even make headlights from cars a bit less blinding; just make sure they’ve been approved for use behind the wheel.
Top 10 Best Blue Light Blocking Glasses to Buy Online
We talked about practicality, about comfort, even a bit about style. (Geeks can look cool too!) Now, it’s time to introduce ten blue light glasses that’ll protect your retinas and help you sleep more soundly at night.
10. Uvex S0360X Ultra-spec 2000 Safety Eyewear UV Extreme Anti-Fog
Protects Even Your Peripherals From Blue Light
The cool thing about goggles–you look kind of like Tracer from Overwatch, and they cover your peripherals, so no blue light can come sneaking in. You can wear them alone or over glasses (if you’ve got a normal-sized face)–but it’ll dig into your face a little. The nose pads are hard and like to slide down your face. (Some have offset this by adding makeshift cushioning.) The lenses scratch.
But–long story short–they work. They’re light, and if you wear them an hour before bed, you can stop taking melatonin and find yourself in dream land–15 minutes tops. Don’t try to binge-watch Netflix with these on. You’ll nod off. (Also, it’s so strong, it messes with colors–blue looks grey, and yellow and white are indistinguishable.)
9. J+S Vision Blue Light SHield Computer Reading/Gaming Glasses
Personalize the Design and Ameliorate Headaches
You could wear these just to be stylish; they’ll soften up square faces and are airy enough for heart-shaped faces. And just in case you wanted to personalize it, J+S has got three shapes (including rectangular) and three colors for you to choose from.
They’re pretty, but don’t worry–they do work. They ease up tension headaches and make fluorescent lighting far less dazzling. Color’s barely distorted. And they’re so light, you can barely feel them on your face. (Though they clamp onto bigger heads pretty tightly.)
8. Cyxus Blue Light UV Blocking Computer Glasses, Double Bridge Aviator
Look Way More Expensive Than They Are, and They Work
Who doesn’t love a good pair of aviators? They’ve got enough curve to them to flatter a square face, but enough angle to sharpen an oval one. And they’re delicate enough to complement heart shaped faces. They’re also a go-to for people with large heads. The frames are large, though, so if you’ve got a narrow face, you might look a bit like Professor Trelawney.
Fashion statements aside, they work. If you get tension headaches from sitting in front of a screen all day, this’ll reduce them. They’re metal and suitably classy, but not heavy at all. (Some think the frames are flimsy, but, at this price point, they’re easy enough to replace.)
7. Bukos Blue Light Blocking Computer Glasses
Hypoallergenic Frames and High Color Fidelity
The frames are what drew us in. They’re sleek enough for all rounder face shapes and fashioned out of your durable, heat resistant, hypoallergenic TR90 plastic. (The case it comes with, by the way, is just as sturdy.) But the glasses are still light and sit comfortably on your nose.
But that doesn’t mean Bukos skimped on the lenses. First off, they barely distort colors. Second, they block about 30% of all blue light, which is enough to help with tension headaches and tired eyes after a long day of work. They’ve got a slight tint to them, but, again, it’s not enough to interfere with the colors on your screen.
6. Spektrum Glasses PROSPEK: Blue Light Blocking Glasses – Artist
Versatile Tortoiseshell Frames That Help with Watering Eyes
Here’s some large, bottom-heavy frames that’ll fill out heart-shaped faces and round out square ones. They’re super light, comfortable, and flexible–they fit most faces, as well. It’ll block out 50% of blue light, and the lenses are nearly clear. There is a yellow tint, but nothing your eyes can’t adjust to. And they reduce glare.
They’ve stopped eyes from watering after long hours in front of the screen and cleared up tension headaches. The lenses do scratch and smudge, though, so treat them gently.
5. Swanwick Sleep Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Available in Numerous Sizes and Puts You Right to Sleep
First off, you’ve got four sizes, including kid’s, so everyone in the family–from Aunt Marnie with the big melon to little Billy in second grade–can fit into a pair. That’s why they’re so comfortable–well, that, and they’re lightweight. You’ve also got two color options: tortoise shell and black. The frames are acetate, which is generally hypoallergenic.
And these’ll help you knock out in a few minutes. People who were incurable–no matter how much sleep medication and melatonin they pumped into themselves–slept like babies. But, again, it’s so tinted, you aren’t going to be seeing many colors–blue is grey, and yellow highlights disappear.
4. Swanwick Sleep Fitover Blue Light Blocking Glasses and Computer Eyewear
Helping the Bespectacled Fall into a Deep Slumber
Yes–these are glasses for your glasses. They do get heavy when combined with other glasses (twice the amount of stuff on your nose), and either slide down your nose if you’ve got a thin bridge, or dig in if you’ve got a thick bridge. But they’re light enough–most aren’t bothered by the extra weight. And unless you’ve got oversized or round frames, they’ll fit snugly over your glasses.
These are FDA-approved and work. Put them on two hours before bed, watch a movie, and you’ll be drowsy by the time the credits are rolling. They’re also anti-glare, so your eyes aren’t dazzled from looking at your tablet all the time.
3. Eye Love Blue Light Blocking Glasses Inside, Transition to Sunglasses Out
Super Versatile: The Lenses Change Color and You Can Adjust Size
These block blue light and UV rays, which comes in handy, since they also grey into sunglasses outdoors. Inside, they’re this pale apricot–subtle enough that colors don’t really change. And people talk about how their eyes have stopped itching, how the headaches have abated, or how they’re sleeping more deeply at night.
Also, one thing about buying glasses online–you can’t get them adjusted. These actually come with a screwdriver, so you can adjust them to the size of your head.
2. Spectra479 Clip-on Blue Blocking Amber Lenses for Sleep
A Clip-on Option That Works and Won’t Scratch Your Lenses
Here’s another choice for the bespectacled. They block out almost everything at the higher end of the spectrum, including blue light and UV rays. People who’ve been suffering from hot flashes, people who lie awake for hours waiting for their brains to shut up–they’ve all reported a deep 8 hours of sleep after clipping these on at night. (Just make sure you glasses are thinner than 1/4 of an inch.)
They are heavily tinted, which means when you look away from the screen, you’re suddenly plunged in a world of darkness. And they don’t flip up, so you’ve got to remove them every time you make a bathroom run. But the clip is spring-loaded, so it opens up when you’re removing and attaching the lenses, keeping it away from your glasses so you don’t end up scratching anything.
1. Spektrum Glasses PROSPEK Premium Computer Glasses
Fashionable Enough for the Light Sensitive to Wear around All Day
These glasses have got a slight buttery tint to them–but it tamps down bright lights and are godsend for the photophobic. They’ll also help if looking into fluorescent light bulbs or computer screens leaves your eyes dry, or your head aching. No more migraines, headaches, or weird pressure in your temples.
They only cut out 50% of blue light, but they’re clear, so you can wear them to the mall, watch a movie, or do some graphic design. It’s got a light, rectangular frame that, in particular, makes round and oval faces look dashingly intellectual. You can get them in black and red or grey. And, yes, they do lessen those sleepless nights.
Long gone are our caveman days, when we rose with the sun and slept with the stars. But, mess too much with your body clock, and it results in sleepiness, grouchiness, all-around inability to function properly-ness. And we’re so addicted to technology that it seems the only way to ameliorate the problems of technology is through more technology.
Now, you’ve learned how to pick out blue light glasses that can put you to sleep, help with light-induced migraines, and make you look drop dead fabulous. We hope that with a new pair, you can have sweet dreams again and feel a little more alive.
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