Do Blue Light Glasses Actually Work?

Elizabeth Gulino

If there’s one thing in the world we’ll never escape, it’s screens. Television screens, computer screens, phone screens. We’ve found ourselves surrounded — especially since we’ve been spending a lot more time indoors, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us need screens for work, and beyond that, entertainment, communication, and pretty much anything else you can think of. And while all this tech can offer us a glimpse into a world outside of our own, it can also can cause quite a bit of strain on our eyes.

Because most of us spend an insurmountable amount of time glued to screens all day — whether your job requires you to, or you find yourself falling into a TikTok rabbit hole every night — and science has started to catch onto the fact that all that staring isn’t the best for our eye health, we’re often trying to find ways to protect our eyes against the glare. Enter: blue light glasses.

Let’s start with the basics: Digital screens emit a type of ray that’s been nicknamed “blue light.” “It has a short wavelength, which means it produces higher amounts of energy than other light,” Jennifer Wademan, OD, a VSP-network eye doctor currently practicing at Bidwell Optometry in Folsom, CA, tells Refinery29. “As blue light enters the eye, the light scatters and is perceived as glare that your eyes have to work overtime to process.”

Prolonged exposure can cause eye strain, fatigue, and headaches, symptoms of what’s called computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain, according to William T. Reynolds, OD, president of the American Optometric Association.

Getting a ton of it — especially at night — can also mess up our circadian rhythm. According to a study completed at the University of Haifa and published in the Chronobiology International, exposure to blue light with wave lengths of 450-500 nanometers (which most devices emit) can significantly suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone secreted at night that helps regulate our body cycles and sleep.

Blue light-blocking glasses use coated lenses that claim to block blue light, stopping the harsh side effects we experience when looking at screens for too long (although most of them are used to filter blue light, not entirely block). They often have a slightly yellow or orange tint to them, which helps reflect the blue light away from your eyes, but more brands are creating fully transparent lenses so you don’t have to feel like you’re an extra in Star Trek. Just check out the blue light glasses brand Felix Gray. They offer three types of lenses: transparent ones that are made to filter out digital blue light, yellowish lenses to filter out blue light before sleep, and darker lenses to filter out blue light from the sun.

But blue light lenses themselves are fairly new, and as such the research backing them up isn’t all that comprehensive. One study published in Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics found “a lack of high quality evidence to support using [Blue-blocking] spectacle lenses for the general population to improve visual performance or sleep quality, alleviate eye fatigue or conserve macular health.”

These lenses do appear to have some perks when used specifically at night, though. According to a study published in Chronobiology International, the use of blue-light blocking glasses in the evening resulted in a significant improvement in sleep quality. Another study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found similar results, stating that these types of glasses could “potentially impede the negative effects modern lighting imposes on circadian physiology in the evening.”

“While there is still a lot of research being done about the effects of blue light, wearing glasses with blue light absorbing lenses certainly doesn’t hurt,” Dr. Wademan points out.

There are other ways to prevent excessive blue light exposure that aren’t a pair of new glasses, though. Both Dr. Wademan and Dr. Reynolds back the the “20-20-20” rule: Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. It may sound strange, but a study published by the Nepalese Journal of Ophthalmology found that looking at far objects in-between screen time was significantly lessened computer vision syndrome symptoms.

It’s also smart to maintain a comfortable distance from your devices (around 20-40 inches away and five inches below eye level), dim the brightness as low as you can while still being able to read your device without squinting, and in the evening, to utilize your device’s night mode.

So, why not — go ahead and try a pair of these glasses out to see if they help with any headaches, eye strain, or sleep patterns. You could also, of course, take some time away from your screens. But right now, they’re the only way many of us have to stay connected. If blue light glasses can possibly let us hold two hour Zoom calls more comfortably — and look chic while doing it — then there’s no harm in grabbing a pair for yourself.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

These Glasses Earn Me 30 Compliments Per Week

Are CBD Tampons The Answer To Your Period Cramps?

The 8 Best Mascaras For The Most Sensitive Eyes

More From

  • Kamala Harris’ Nomination Is A Historic Moment — So Why Does It Feel So Compromised?

    With the Democratic National Convention less than a week away, Joe Biden finally announced that Sen. Kamala Harris will be his running mate. Harris is the choice that many predicted he would make, an accomplished Democrat, and an established household name who polls well with Biden supporters. She brings an impressive legislative record and killer charisma. In her short-lived presidential campaign, she was energetic and showed a penchant for zingers and quick comebacks, and picked up momentum when she challenged Biden during a debate on his busing record with a moving personal anecdote about her own history with segregated schools. Becoming not only the first woman vice president, but also the first Black and the first Asian vice president would undoubtedly be an historic achievement contributing to more equitable political representation. If she and Biden win, Harris will have overcome not only long-held skepticism of women in power but also the white supremacist structure that has shut out candidates like herself from major party positions. That deserves a moment of acknowledgement — even celebration — for Harris, her allies in Congress and on the campaign trail, and many Americans.“Vice President Biden is proud to announce Senator Harris as his running mate and believes she will be a great partner,” according to the campaign. “He knows what is needed to be a successful Vice President, and he picked the right person for the job. From getting to know her through his friendship with his son Beau to seeing her take on Trump on the campaign trail, Joe knows she is the kind of leader he wants by his side. The American people — and women across the country — agree she is the kind of leader our nation needs right now who will fight on their behalf and will be ready on day one.” However, it’s hard for some to celebrate this nomination in a full-throated way. For many people — including many Democrats — Biden’s candidacy is already compromised because of his record on issues like banking and crime and treatment of women. To some, Biden’s offering of what is arguably the second-highest position of power in the country feels like handing out crumbs, and the reasons for that are both straightforward and frustrating.The shadow of the 2016 election and the 2020 primary: Despite being leagues more qualified and capable than her counterpart, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost the election while also facing a barrage of sexist attacks. The framing surrounding her historic run as the first woman candidate of a major political party was incredibly gendered, from Trump’s “nasty woman” comment, to the horrifying shirts worn at Trump rallies, to the outsized media focus on her perceived physical weaknesses. This VP pick is also haunted by the shameful process of the 2020 Democratic primary, during which voters were constantly told that, amid a slate of competent women candidates, it was Joe Biden who was the only electable pick. This reinforced the idea that women are not viable as presidential candidates, and are best used in supporting roles.The announcement: In March during a Democratic debate, Biden announced that his VP pick would be a woman so his administration will “look like the country.” Rather than the empowering olive branch he likely intended, his announcement was seen by many as a symbolic, but ultimately hollow move.The statements from Biden staff: Throughout the last few weeks of the “Veepstakes,” statements from within Biden’s campaign itself were made to indicate that this woman’s power will come with conditions. For example:– Sen. Chris Dodd, a member of Biden’s VP search committee, reportedly campaigned against Harris, saying “she had no remorse” when she attacked Biden at the debate. – Some of Biden’s advisers reportedly said they don’t want a running mate who is positioned to succeed him, or who would overshadow him. This is strange given that he’d be the oldest serving president in history if elected. Sexism from the media: While right-wing media is known for its sexist coverage, mainstream outlets also often portray women candidates as more emotional, more prone to lying, or as less capable of leadership. Women’s organizations recently wrote a letter to the media detailing advice on how to overcome these biases. Unfortunately, while these efforts are laudable (and a welcome correction to what happened in 2016), they will still be ignored by many. (See: L.A. Times’ cringe-worthy Bachelor headline.) One way in which this has played out is the recent framing of Harris as devious (again, “She had no remorse”) in her questioning of Biden on his busing record, when she was asking a legitimate question — and playing politics, as might be expected of a politician. In contrast, Rep. Karen Bass, who was recently rumored to be a top VP option, has been framed as a non-threatening “worker bee” who wouldn’t cause trouble for Biden. These characterizations aren’t just untrue, they’re also damaging. Reportedly, the Biden campaign is trying to get ahead of the sexist coverage and “defend” the nominee, but it remains to be seen how this plays out. Additionally, the idea of having to “protect” a woman nominee takes on an unmistakably patriarchal tone.Biden’s baggage on women: Inevitably, Harris will spend significant energy answering for Biden’s record when it comes to women and Black Americans, including his treatment of Anita Hill during the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas, Tara Reade’s allegations of sexual assault, and his flip-flopping on the Hyde Amendment. As a Black woman, she will also be asked to defend his record of working with segregationists — a point that Harris has brought up against Biden during debates. And as a former prosecutor, she will be pressured to appear focused on “law and order,” which will be complicated given that she’s already garnered criticism for her prosecutorial record from criminal justice advocates, and potentially alienate the left wing of the party. At the same time, Trump will inevitably go after Biden and Harris for being “soft on crime.” It will be uncomfortable, ugly, and ultimately unfair. And, of course, attacks from Trump. Can any woman in the spotlight who opposes him really avoid these? He has already wasted no time calling her “horrible,” “disrespectful,” and “extraordinarily nasty” in relation to her questioning of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his nomination hearings. In some ways, all of this is the perfect encapsulation of what it’s like to be a woman in 2020: Life is a Catch-22 for those who vie for power. If you want it, you’re not supposed to show it. And once you get it, you’ll be attacked for it. Congratulations Kamala, but also we’re so, so sorry.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?What Does Biden Really Think About Kamala Harris?It's Kamala!Kamala Harris On Impeachment & What's Next For Her

  • Oat Milk Is Beauty’s Newest Secret-Ingredient Star

    Oat milk: for coffee snobs, it's the only milk that exists — and for the rest of us, it's a special treat worthy of the extra 80-or-so cents at our local cafe. The trendiest of all the dairy alternatives is so popular, in fact, that it's now infiltrating the ranks of our favorite beauty products — touching everything from hair to skincare formulas with its nourishing embrace. We already swear by colloidal oatmeal as an incredible cure-all for soothing eczema or irritated skin — and, as it not so surprisingly turns out, oat milk has similar calming benefits that any sapped complexions can and will readily drink up. Ahead, find some of the coolest new beauty launches (plus a few OG-sleeper hits) that feature this new secret-ingredient star. From hidden drugstore gems to luxer fancy-pants spurges, scroll forth into the nine oat-milk-infused goods that (we're calling it) are about to go viral. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?10 Piping-Hot Products Hitting Ulta BeautyThe Epic Beauty Deals From Nordstrom's Major Sale22 Sale Scores Our Beauty Writer Is Adding To Cart

  • The SSENSE Sale Has Every Sneaker You Want Up To 70% Off

    In 2020, the vibe for footwear is largely "Come help me get the groceries out of the car." That is to say that, when most of us aren't at home in our stocking feet, we're bumming around in some sort of slide or trainer, the latter of which SSENSE's epic sale can help upgrade. With styles up to 70% off, the offerings do lean Fashion-y — including a particularly well-known triple-decker silhouette — though you'll also find sneaker-dom's greatest hits, from staple Stan Smiths and Vans Old Skools to Converse Chuck 70s. We've given you a head start here with a selection of some of our favorites, but don't dawdle — the promotion ends August 12, so you'll want to get a move on now. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. The product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

  • How To Sleep If Your Sunburn Is Keeping You Awake

    The other night, I found myself with a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad sunburn (as the fabled Alexander would put it). Now, a burn is painful enough on its own, but — as I learned — it’s especially bad at night. As I tucked myself into bed, sinking into what suddenly felt like sheets made of sandpaper, my skin screamed. That night, I woke up every hour or so in pain, continuously hosing myself down with aloe vera. It was especially annoying, because I’m usually a good sleeper. I sleep through thunder, knocking, sirens — but even my super-strength REM was no match for this burn. Sunburns disrupt sleep in a couple different ways, says Ted Lain, MD, a dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer at Sanova Dermatology. “There is inflammation in the skin that causes the heat, as well as the pain from nerve irritation,” he explains. “The skin feels tight and uncomfortable because it has lost its barrier function, or its ability to retain hydration and protect itself from the environment.” Even worse, you might feel extra-exhausted after being in the sun. That’s because the body is sending fluid to your burnt skin’s surface, dehydrating you, which can tire you out, says Marisa Garshick, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell-New York Presbyterian Medical Center. Plus, your body is working hard at regulating your core temp, draining your energy even more. And yet, you’re unable to nod off and stay asleep.Luckily, there are things you can do to rest a little easier, even when your skin feels like it’s smoldering. The doctors gave me their best tips in exchange for the promise that I’d reapply my SPF more frequently next time.  Take an ibuprofen or acetaminophenThese two meds (which can be found in the brands Tylenol and Advil, respectively) will help with the symptoms of a sunburn, as they reduce swelling and inflammation, says Dr. Lain. He adds that ibuprofen has been shown to increase sun sensitivity, though. So if you’re planning on getting any more sun, you may want to stick with Tylenol so you don’t do more damage. Side note: Although there was a brief point in March when health authorities were warning against taking ibuprofen due to concerns regarding COVID-19, the research did not bear out, Dr. Garshick notes. The World Health Organization agreed in April.  Use aloe My instinct was correct! “Aloe vera gel is cooling and helps temporarily with discomfort, as do numbing sprays and gels,” Dr. Lain says. “These may be most appropriate if the sunburn is causing nighttime awakenings. But just be careful to follow manufacturer’s directions on how and when to apply the numbing sprays, since overdoing it may lead to a dangerous absorption.”  Moisturize This is an important one, says Dr. Garshick. Not only will it help the skin repair itself, it can help with hydration and overall comfort. She recommends a lighter-weight cream in the first 24 hours after a burn, then something heavier after a few days, when this skin is starting to peel. But she advises against exfoliating to accelerate the peeling, or picking at blisters.  Pick the right PJsLight cotton PJs or silks are the best fabrics, since they’ll cause less friction against the skin, Dr. Lain says. “Certainly not wearing pajamas is also an alternative,” he adds, which brings us to… And the right sheetsIf you’re going to sleep au naturale, go for cotton or silk bedsheets. Bamboo works too. Dr. Garshick recommends avoiding flannel, wool, and most synthetic fabrics, unless they’re moisture-wicking. Only sleep in the buff when the sheets are clean, she adds. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrateRemember when we mentioned burns are dehydrating? Dr. Garshick recommends keeping a glass of water by the bed, and drinking a little more than you usually would before you nod off. It can also help to take a cold shower right before you head to bed to cool down your body, as it can be hard to fall asleep when you’re too warm. Turn on the A/C before bedYes, it’s not great for your electric bill, but Dr. Lain recommends anything that will cool the skin. A fan works too. When in doubt, go to the doctor If your burn is causing extreme blistering, or is accompanied by symptoms such as severe pain, a high fever, or nausea, it’s worth having a doctor or dermatologist take a look to rule out sun poisoning or heat stroke. “I usually will tell people to have a low threshold for going to the doctor,” Dr. Garshick says. “If you’re in enough pain it’s really noticeable, it’s reasonable to contact a dermatologist. Some people might be taking medicines that are making them more sensitive to the sun, and they might not be aware of it.” If a burn is really severe, your doc might prescribe a short course of steroids, a corticosteroid cream, or a prescription grade moisturizer. Dr. Garshick says she also might give patients a friendly reminder to keep slathering on the sunscreen. “People sometimes think, ‘okay, I’ve done my damage,’ after a burn,” she says. “But when the skin is somewhat injured, it’s more susceptible to further damage.” Lain adds: “Sunburns cause lasting damage to the DNA in the skin cells… This is why sunburns cause so much inflammation and discomfort — it’s the body’s mechanism to persuade you to avoid doing this again!” I certainly found my sleepless night convincing. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Who Needs Bikinis? One-Pieces To Buy InsteadHow To Heal Your Scorched Skin — FastThe Aloe Vera Products That Will Heal Your Sunburn