If there’s one thing to be said about this golden age of TV, is that most of us watch a lot more TV than we used to. Whether you binge watch on your computer, your smartphone, or – how quaint – on your actual telly, or if you just work in front of a computer all day – there’s one health issue you might be concerned about – Blue Light.
Excessive Blue Light, which comes off most of the digital screens around us, has been blamed for sleeping troubles, dry eyes, eye strain, headaches, and a multitude of modern health issues. To combat these alleged problems, many swear by Blue Light Blocking Glasses – spectacles that help block some of the blue light coming off the screen in front of you.
In this article, I’ll try to tackle the controversy of whether these blue light glasses actually work, as well as review a few pairs, and the things you need to consider before buying.
Best Blue Light Blocking Glasses 2021
Table of Contents
What Is Blue Light And Why Is It Harmful?
Remember the good old days, when the sun was our primary source of light? Well, you probably don’t (Plus, if you live in the UK, you might not even remember what the sun IS). Back then, our days and nights were set by the sun – you work and play during the day, when the sun is out and there’s light, and then you go to sleep at night, when there’s no light. Easy enough, right?
Then came the light-bulb, and humans were able to stay awake, and work and play even longer. That, however, was the first step in throwing our natural cycles out of whack – if there’s light around us, then it must be daytime, and we need to be alert, right? No, that’s just a light-bulb. Try and tell that to your body when you’re tossing and turning in bed.
And if that’s not enough – not all light is created equal. Light is composed of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves that emit energy, and range in length and strength. The shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy.
Every wavelength is represented by a different colour, which is, in turn, the electromagnetic spectrum. The human eye is sensitive to visible light – the part of the spectrum that is seen as colours.
Blue light, which has a very short wavelength, produces a higher amount of energy – and that’s where the trouble starts, according to Harvard Medical School.
“Blue wavelengths”, they write, “which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood – seem to be the most disruptive at night.”
The exposure to light decreases your melatonin levels – a hormone that controls your daily sleep/wake cycles. Normally, melatonin levels in your body rise in the evening, after the sun has set, and remain high during the night, helping you sleep better.
But exposure to light – and especially blue light coming from the screens around us – causes those melatonin levels to drop, even if it’s night-time and you’re supposed to go to sleep. See the problem?
Additionally, the bright blue light emanating from our digital screens has also been attributed to “Digital Eye Strain”. Because of its unique characteristics, blue light is harder to focus on, which can lead to dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision and horns coming out of your forehead (OK, I made the last one up.) And while there’s an easy fix for that – look AWAY from your screen every 20 minutes or so – most of us will never remember to do that.
And let’s not forget, these days we look at screens all the time. In the past, at most, we would sit on our sofa and watch some Doctor Who on the telly – the blue light was there, but it was dim, we were sitting far from it, and would usually get tired after a couple of hours. (Though if you’re still sitting too close to your TV – it might be time to consider a better TV bracket)
These days, when you’re done watching TV, you check your e-mails on your computer. Then you pick up your smartphone and check Twitter. Or play a game. Those darned blue lights are in our eyes ALL THE TIME…
Can Blue Light Blocking Glasses Really Help?
So we’ve established that excessive blue light, especially during the night, can be bad for you. But are glasses that block blue light the solution?
First – What do blue light glasses do?
Blue blocking glasses (sometimes called Computer Glasses or Gaming Glasses, because that’s how they were marketed in their early days), use special coating and filters to prevent the blue light and glare from reaching your retina. Some glasses are tinted with a yellow/orange colour to help with the filtering, while other models have clear lenses that have minimal effect on the colours you see.
While it’s important to say the evidence is still inconclusive, some studies and reports did show possible benefits of wearing blue light blocking glasses.
In a Swiss study published in the Journal Of Adolescent Health, 13 teenagers were given blue light blocking glasses for a week, while using LED screens for at least a few hours during the evenings. And for another week, they were given glasses with clear lenses. The results?
“Compared with clear lenses, Blue Blockers significantly attenuated LED-induced melatonin suppression in the evening and decreased vigilant attention and subjective alertness before bedtime. Visually scored sleep stages and behavioural measures collected the morning after were not modified.”
Basically, when wearing the tinted, blue light blocking glasses, the boys were feeling “significantly more sleepy” at night, despite having used LED screens for several hours. The boys who did NOT wear the blue light glasses, had a harder time falling asleep.
Since glasses that block blue light have been around for several years now, there are a lot of users that swear by them. Others have tried them and were left unimpressed. Remember that these glasses are NOT sold as medical equipment, so the bottom line is this: You might want to try them for yourself, and see if they make a difference in your sleeping habits and eye fatigue during the day.
Buying The Best Blue Light Blocking Glasses – Things To Consider
When buying regular glasses, looks and fashion are usually an important factor. With glasses you’re only supposed to wear in front of your computer/TV/smartphone, looks are less of an issue – though there’s still a variety of colours and designs there, so don’t worry.
There are, however, a few things you should look out for before you decide which blue light blocking glasses to buy.
Regular or Prescription glasses
If you wear prescription glasses, you have two options when buying blue light blockers – bespoke prescription glasses, or blockers that go on top of your everyday glasses (either with a clip-on, or just a wide frame that can fit on top of your regular glasses.)
If you choose to get blue light blocking glasses with a prescription, you won’t be able to get them straight off Amazon, but would need to go through an optometrist or a speciality online store (such as MisterSpex). Though, if your prescription is for reading glasses and you know your number, some models on Amazon DO come with that option.
Keep in mind though, that if you get prescription blue blockers, which are usually more expensive, you commit to it – and would need to buy a new pair if your number ever changes.
If you’re just starting out experimenting with blue light blocking glasses, I would recommend getting blue light blocking clip-ons, to see how the blocking works for you. Later, if you feel they’re a big help, you can always go for the more expensive prescription glasses.
There’s one caveat, though – many of the blue light glasses also have a slight magnification feature. It helps combat eye strain by enabling you to focus better on the screen, but that magnification isn’t “compatible” with some types of prescription glasses.
When I bought blue light blocking glasses for the first time, everything was blurry for me when I used them WITH my regular glasses. It wasn’t until I tried a different model, that things got better – so my advice would be, again, to just give it a try to see if everything fits.
Blue Light Blocking Percentage
Different models of blue light blocking glasses have different levels of blocking, and the level also depends on whether the lenses are tinted or transparent. Depending on your needs (and the price), look for a blocking level of at least 80%.
Size and Weight
As with regular glasses, size is an important factor. With blue light blocking glasses, it’s important they cover your eyes adequately, so you don’t want to get lenses that are too small for your eyes.
Additionally, if you happen to have prescription glasses and you want the blue blocker specs to fit on top of your regular ones, you should get a bigger model.
And finally, the weight – if you work in front of a computer all day, or watch a lot of TV on one of your devices, you’ll end up wearing the blue blockers for long periods of time. If you’re not used to wearing glasses, it’s especially important to go for a light-weight model, or you’ll start feeling the pain on your nose…
If you’re a computer/video gamer, you might also want to consider the special “Gaming” blue light blocking glasses. They’re exactly the same in every way other than the size and shape, as they’re designed to go well with audio gaming headsets that sit on your head.
Most blue light blocking glasses have an amber/yellow/orange tint to them, because that’s a major factor in blocking those pesky blue lights. The problem? The tint changes the colours you see on your screen.
For most people, that shouldn’t be an issue – it takes some getting used to, but your eyes will probably thank you. For some people and professions, however – graphics designers, for example – changing that colours that you see is a big no-no.
That’s why you can also purchase transparent blue light blocking glasses, that will have no effect on the colours you see, and still block blue light. Keep in mind, however, that transparent glasses will block a lower percentage of the blue light than the tinted ones – so there’s a trade-off.
Best Blue Light Glasses UK 2021
- Blocking Level: 100% UV, “Nearly 99%” Blue Light
- Lens Colour: Transparent
- Comes With: Soft case, Blue Light Blocking test kit
- Gaming Headsets: Compatible
Vetoo Blocking Glasses Review
Tinted lenses pose two issues – graphic designers and people who have to see correct colours can’t work with them, and some people just don’t like the drastic change in colours that you see when you wear them. If that’s you – the Vetoo transparent glasses are a great solution.
Keep in mind, you’re still likely to see a slight change in colours – after all, there’s still a filter on the lens – but it’s minimal when compared to tinted glasses. However, they’re not perfect with the anti-glare, so keep that in mind if you have a window near your computer.
There’s a large selection of frame colours to choose from (including leopard!), and unlike some strange designs out there, these actually look good on your face – so that’s a plus, even if that shouldn’t be your main concern with blue light blocking glasses.
The price is excellent, and while the build quality is what you would expect from budget spectacles, they still get A LOT of great reviews from buyers – so you get excellent value for money.
- Blocking Level: 100% UV, Blue-light unspecified
- Lens Colour: Gentle tint
- Comes With: Case
- Gaming Headsets: Compatible
ATTCL Glasses Review
Another great pair with a very gentle tint that manages to block blue light without changing the colours you’re seeing too much.
The frame is made of metal and is very light-weight (only 14 grams) – which is a big plus, though it also means they can easily bend or even break if you’re not careful.
The design is quite nice – the gold ones actually look like glasses you would want to be seen with, instead of the bulky plasticky look that some of the other blue light blocking glasses have.
The price is excellent, and it’s a best-seller with quite a lot of positive reviews, which is always a good sign.
- Blocking Level: 92%
- Size:58 mm x 34 mm
- Lens Colours: Yellow
- Comes With: Case
Klim OTG Clip On Glasses Review
If you’re wearing prescription glasses and you don’t want to buy a new pair with blue light blocking features, using clip-ons is an easy, cheap solution to reduce eye-strain and possibly improve your sleep.
This Klim OTG clip-on model has yellow-tinted lenses, which means you will see everything with a shade of yellow, and that takes some getting used to.
The blocking level is an impressive 92% – which is great, even when compared to some of the full-size glasses.
While there’s not much to say about the design of a clip-on model, these are a bit bulky, and even though they’re light-weight at only 15g, the will still make your glasses feel a bit heavier.
All in all, they do a very good job of adding the blocking capabilities to ANY glasses, and for a decent price.
- Blocking Level: 100%
- Frame: Adjustable height and tilt
- Lens Colours: Orange
- Gaming Headsets: No
Terminator UV-400 Glasses Review
With an industrial design, these look more safety glasses that you would get at a factory or at the dentist. But with the ability to adjust the height and the tilt, and ventilation holes on the frame, these promise to be very comfortable.
They offer both UV and Blue Light filtering (at a promised 100%) and light transmission of 44%.
Keep in mind, though, that this heavy filtering comes along with a strong orange tint and some light reduction – so the colours you look at will look a bit different than what you’re used to.
- Blocking Level: 98%
- Lens Colours: Orange
- Comes With: Case, Cleaning cloth
- Gaming Headsets: Compatible
Uvex Skyper Orange Glasses Review
Uvex are an established brand in the Blue Light Blocking glasses arena, and for good reason – they offer ergonomic, technologically advanced glasses that attract, in most cases, good reviews. But all that comes with a slightly higher price tag.
The orange lens promise Spectrum Control Technology (SCT), that will block 98% of the blue light – that’s impressive, even when compared to other top blue light blocking computer glasses. Keep in mind though that the orange tint is quite strong, and might not be for everyone. Plus, you shouldn’t really use them for driving at night, as things will get too dark.
The Uvex glasses also have a unique feature that lets you adjust the angle of the lens between three positions – this helps when your computer screen is higher, or lower, and you don’t want to strain your neck.
All in all, these are excellent glasses from a trusted brand, so it’s a question of whether you’re willing to pay the higher price for a well-known name.