How Do Blue Light Glasses Work?

Hey there, staring at screens all day getting you down? You're not alone. We've all been there - eyes burning, constant headaches, and feeling drained. You've probably heard about those special blue light blocking glasses that are supposed to help. But what about just throwing on a pair of sunglasses instead? Will those work just as well? Or do you really need to invest in those pricey blue light specs? We're breaking it all down for you. We'll compare blue light glasses to traditional sunglasses and those tinted yellow ones to see which blocks more eye strain. We'll also look at other options like screen filters to find out what works best. By the end, you'll know whether blue light glasses are worth it and how they stack up against other ways to give your eyes a break. Let's dive in!

Blue Light Glasses vs. Regular Sunglasses

Blue light glasses are designed to block blue light emissions from digital screens and other electronics. They contain special lenses that filter out the highest energy visible light in the blue wavelength range, from 415 to 455 nanometers. These glasses work by absorbing the harmful blue light that can cause digital eye strain and potentially lead to long-term damage.

Blocking Harmful Blue Light

The blue light emitted from tech devices like phones, tablets, and computers is high in energy, meaning it has shorter wavelengths that penetrate deep into your eyes. While some blue light exposure is normal during the day, too much of it, especially after dark, can disrupt your circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep. Prolonged exposure to blue light is also linked to an increased risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss.

Relieving Eye Strain and Fatigue

Blue light glasses can help relieve symptoms of digital eye strain like dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and difficulty focusing. They make screen time less taxing on your eyes by filtering out the wavelengths of light that are most irritating. Many people find their eyes feel less tired and fatigued when viewing screens with blue light glasses versus regular glasses or no glasses at all.

Use With Other Eye Protection

Blue light glasses work best when used in combination with other methods for reducing eye strain. Take frequent breaks from looking at the screen, use proper lighting, reduce glare, increase text size, and sit at a proper distance from the screen. Blue light glasses can also be worn with regular sunglasses outside to block both blue light and UV radiation for comprehensive eye protection and visual comfort throughout the day.

With the right pair of blue light blocking glasses, you can enjoy your tech devices with greater visual comfort and peace of mind that you're supporting long term eye health. While no substitute for moderation, blue light glasses are an easy way to make screen time less stressful on your eyes.

Other Blue Light Blocking Options: Filters and Screen Protectors

Blue light glasses are designed specifically to block harmful blue light from digital screens and devices, while regular sunglasses are made primarily to shield your eyes from UV radiation outside. Both offer eye protection, but in different ways.

Lens Material

The lens material in blue light glasses blocks blue light indoors, while sunglasses usually use lens treatments that block UV rays outdoors. Some blue light glasses may also have anti-reflective coatings to reduce glare. Sunglass lenses are often polarized to reduce reflected light.

Blue Light Reduction

Blue light glasses are engineered to filter out blue light, which can cause digital eye strain and potentially lead to long-term damage. They don't necessarily block all light, just the high energy visible (HEV) blue light. Regular sunglasses are not designed for blue light protection and won't do much to reduce eye strain from screens.

When to Use Them

Blue light glasses are meant for indoor use when looking at digital devices, while sunglasses are for outdoor use in sunny conditions. Blue light glasses won’t sufficiently protect your eyes outside, and sunglasses used indoors won’t properly reduce blue light exposure from tech devices.

Additional Protection

For the best eye protection, you could use blue light glasses indoors and sunglasses outside. Some people also use screen filters, reduce brightness on their devices, take regular breaks from looking at the screen, or use eye drops to keep their eyes lubricated. A multi-pronged approach is the most effective.

Using the right eyewear for the right environment and activity is key. Blue light glasses and sunglasses each have their place, so understand how they differ in lens material, blue light reduction, intended use, and additional protection they may provide. Your eyes will thank you.

The Benefits of Layering Blue Light Glasses With Other Eye Protection

Software filters

Many devices like phones, tablets, and computers offer built-in software options to filter out blue light. The most common is a “night mode” or “night shift” feature that removes blue wavelengths and warms the screen to an orange hue. The downside is these filters don't block as much blue light as specialized glasses. They may be fine for casual use, but for long sessions in front of screens, blue light glasses are more effective.

Screen protectors

Anti-blue light screen protectors are available for most devices. They attach directly to the screen and filter blue light while allowing other wavelengths to pass through. Some reduce up to 95% of blue light. The major benefit is they don't require any software or device settings to change. However, many people find screen protectors annoying to apply and they can impact screen clarity or sensitivity. They also do nothing to block ambient blue light from overhead lighting or the sun.

Computer glasses

For desktop computer use, computer glasses with blue light lenses may be a good option. They sit directly in front of the eyes and provide targeted protection from short-wave blue light emitted by digital screens and fluorescent bulbs. Look for glasses that block at least 50% of light in the 400 to 440 nm range. Some computer glasses can also help reduce digital eye strain by providing slight magnification to make on-screen text easier to read.

While software filters, screen protectors and computer glasses can all help reduce blue light exposure and eye strain to some degree, blue light blocking glasses remain the most comprehensive solution. They provide protection from all sources of blue light, both digital and ambient. No software, settings or screen protectors needed. For maximum benefit, you may want to use blue light glasses in combination with built-in device filters when possible. Together they offer the best defense against the potential vision and sleep impacts of blue light.

Blue Light Blocking Glasses FAQs: Finding the Right Pair for You

Blue light glasses are designed specifically to filter out blue light from digital screens and electronic devices. However, they typically don’t block other types of light that can also cause eye strain, like harsh overhead lighting or sunlight. That’s why layering your blue light glasses with sunglasses or other protective eyewear can provide comprehensive coverage for your eyes.

Blue Light Glasses + Sunglasses

Wearing your blue light glasses under a pair of sunglasses is a great way to block blue light from screens as well as UV rays from the sun. Look for sunglasses that are polarized to reduce glare, and have 100% UV protection. The tint of the sunglasses lenses will also help dim bright light overall, preventing squinting which can lead to tension headaches. For the most complete protection, choose sunglasses with side shields or close-fitting frames to block light from all angles.

Blue Light Glasses + Yellow-Tinted Glasses

Yellow-tinted glasses, like those used for night driving or low light conditions, can enhance the effects of blue light glasses. The yellow tint filters out blue light wavelengths, reducing their transmission to the eyes. This helps minimize digital eye strain and can relieve associated symptoms like dry eyes, blurred vision and headache. The combined effect of the blue light glasses and yellow-tinted glasses essentially creates a “double barrier” of protection for your eyes.

Other Options for Reducing Eye Strain

While blue light glasses and sunglasses can go a long way toward easing digital eye strain, also consider low-tech solutions like taking regular breaks from screen use, adjusting the brightness settings on your devices, and ensuring proper ergonomics and viewing distances. Software like f.lux can filter blue light and adjust color temperature on your digital screens. These small changes, used along with protective eyewear, will give your eyes the relief they need from constant blue light exposure.
Roger Sarkis