Why Blue Light Glasses May End Up Preventing Disrupted Sleep

·19 min read
Photo credit: Design: Danielle Carson
Photo credit: Design: Danielle Carson

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We overhauled this article in August 2022 to reflect new feedback on each featured product based on the firsthand use experience collected of Good Housekeeping editors, with a brand new structure clearly reflecting our top picks. We also are featuring updated clinical expertise to better inform and educate shoppers on the efficacy of blue light glasses.

Emitted by a myriad of devices from televisions to phones and almost any display, blue light — a certain grade of high-energy light on the color spectrum — is certainly known to disrupt natural circadian rhythms that guide your sleep, as well as trigger headaches after prolonged exposure, per published research. But evidence isn't detailed enough yet to illustrate how blue light glasses (or blue light-blocking glasses) effectively prevent these symptoms and promote holistic eye health, despite marketing claims that promise these results. If you're battling chronic headaches or finding your sleep disrupted by late-night work, a pair of blue light glasses may help alleviate some eye strain — though the science of this purported relief remains highly debated among healthcare experts.

To find the best blue light glasses, members of our health team collectively evaluated over two dozen brands, landing on each of the products listed in our guide based on wearability, comfort, design quality and any reported symptom relief. We also partnered with a pair of leading optometrists and ophthalmologists to answer top questions about blue light glasses' efficacy and shopping tips for products that reduce blue light exposure over time. You can read more about how we evaluated blue light glasses firsthand at the end of this guide.

Our top picks:

  • Best Overall Blue Light Glasses: Warby Parker

  • Best Value Blue Light Glasses: Blenders

  • Best Prescription Blue Light Glasses: GlassesUSA

  • Best Style Blue Light Glasses: Felix Gray

  • Best Size-Inclusive Blue Light Glasses: Mohala

  • Best Blue Light Glasses for Women: Ray-Ban

  • Best Blue Light Glasses on Amazon: Prospek Computer Glasses

  • Best Gaming Blue Light Glasses: Gunnar

    According to our testing results, these are the best blue light glasses in 2022.

    Blue light-blocking lenses are accessible for all Warby Parker products, regardless if they use prescription lenses or not, for a $50 surcharge. The brand's Wright frames are a best-seller for a reason — they're highly customizable, available in three different widths for a snug fit beneath your crown and come in a variety of finishes and styles that our editors loved. Our review of the Wright noted that Warby Parker's frames were extremely easy to clean, given the frame's body is made from durable polished plastic, and that the brand's polycarbonate lenses are made with scratch-resistant coatings that stood up to daily wear and tear excellently.

    Alongside an anti-reflective and UV-blocking finish, Warby Parker offers custom prescription lenses of any nature on all of its frames, including the Wright frame. Customers can easily pass along prescription information (as well as any insurance coverage) through Warby Parker's patient portal. Plus, Warby Parker recently unveiled a new digital quiz service to renew prescriptions as well. Another signature feature is the brand's home try-on process, which allows shoppers to select five different frames free of charge to try on at home; you'll send the samples back when you've decided on the best fit for you.

    While price points are elevated for standalone frames with blue light-blocking lenses alone, you get what you pay for — our review found the available styles produced by Warby Parker fit into most occasions and needs (home or office wear, casual use as well as prolonged wearing) with frames that were built to last.

    A solid blend between performance and style, as well as a wider suite of blue light-only frames, Blenders' standalone blue light glasses are a favorite among editors who have worn them. Their unisex sizing model ensures an encompassing fit for most, and the retailers' size guide on its product pages contains some of the clearest fit details we've seen. If you've yet to wear a pair of blue light glasses during long work hours or late-night projects, Blenders' standalone products feel like the best introduction to the category — you'll find that tint levels on these frames will help you recognize how much blue light is thrown off from some of your most used electronics.

    Featured here is the brand's best-selling product designed for women specifically — if sizing limits you based on this frames' width, Blenders' Spider Jet frames are designed to be size inclusive for a unisex audience. Its adjustable pieces fit a wider range of nose bridges and work well for a variety of preferred widths and sizes.

    Known as one of the largest online retailers of prescription eyewear, GlassesUSA was an early adopter in offering blue light-blocking coatings for nearly all of their available frames, regardless of prescription or style. Their proprietary add-on is known as "BLUEASE", according to a brand representative, and can be added onto available frames for a flat fee of $19 — this includes extremely popular styles from brands like Ray-Ban, Oakley, and Persol, among many others. If you're shopping for corrective eyewear, GlassesUSA has long worked with customers using a wide array of vision insurance providers to lower prices on all of their selections, making shopping for prescription lenses enhanced with blue light add-ons a total breeze.

    GlassesUSA doesn't manufacture blue light frames exclusively since any of its available products are eligible to be upgraded with blue light-blocking features, but it does manufacture its own private-label products, like these oversized unisex frames in its Muse collection. Known as their best-selling frame for women, the Ottoto Bellona above features a very sturdy round build with structural arms that sit comfortably alongside your face. The adjustable silicone nose pads come in handy for a variety of bridge sizes.

    If you're looking for a pair of glasses that'll blend seamlessly into your office wardrobe — without drawing any wondering looks from colleagues if you don't regularly wear glasses already — Felix Gray's offerings are designed for you. A wide range of blue light-blocking styles are made from the brand's eyewear frames that are also available in prescription lenses for those who need them. The eyeglasses retailer launches seasonal collections frequently, introducing new products like this top-tested Alexander model that first launched in spring 2022; the brand's Roebling and Nash frames are among the most popular options for those shopping for blue light specs all on their own.

    While most frames are available in just one size, Felix Gray manufactures a wider array of frames that are specifically designed for faces of different shapes and sizes; the angular cut of the nose bridge on the Alexander frames made for a comfortable fit without the need for adjustable pads. These glasses are best suited for women who are keen on the look of a cat eye-style frame in a style that's modern and complimentary for any workspace. They're also available in an amber tint.

    Felix Gray also deliberately offers more than one kind of blue light-blocking lens for each of their popular frames; they're divided into clear lenses and visibility-tinted amber lenses, which may be best for those who have late-night work routines. Brand materials suggest that Felix Gray's amber lenses are designed to filter away more than 23 times the amount of blue light compared to other options on the market, and are designed with sleep in mind.

    Brand founder Ashley Mariko Johnson tackles the one-size-fits-all issue in eyewear with Mohala, which aims to bolster design to be inclusive of more face shapes and sizes. Johnson designed Mohala offerings by consulting Black, Asian and Hispanic consumers directly, focusing on wider lenses, shorter temple lengths and more room for both natural and synthetic eyelashes. Mohala's blue light-blocking specs are designed to accentuate square and oval-shaped faces, lower nose bridges and sit comfortably on a range of cheekbone sizes. Customers can easily filter specs by nose bridge options, face shapes, width and more fit options when shopping within Mohala's online retail space (or locally in Hawaii, the brand's home state).

    The Keana frames provide a comfortable, encompassing fit for those with round, oval and heart-shaped faces, thanks to their spanning width (which is available in two different sizes for those with wider faces). Mohala's blue light frames, including those on the Keana, perfectly straddle the amount of tint for long-wear use at the office or at home — our tests revealed their light tint is effective in evening hours in dark spaces while preserving color correctness during daylight hours. Multiple stylish finishes for the Keana frame will likely have you picking up more than one pair for year-round wear.

    With many size options available in 18 different standalone frames, Ray-Ban makes a wide array of blue light glasses for women in more compact designs using their proprietary Everglasses technology. The classic Wayfarer frame can be ordered in a wide array of sizes up to an XXL, and comes with a universal nose bridge that testers found to be comfortable in extended wear. The photochromic lenses available on Ray-Ban's blue light glasses shift in tint throughout the day depending on lighting, and are fitted with anti-reflective treatments and UV filters for additional protection. Our tests revealed that those with smaller faces may benefit from Ray-Ban's petite offerings, which include XS and S sizes, for a fit that won't have glasses sliding off throughout the work day.

    Plus, Ray-Ban's corrective prescription glasses can be made with the same Everglass technology that includes blue light-blocking coatings.

    While they're not available for all prescription levels, Prospek's highly popular frames loaded with their blue light-blocking lenses are available in a variety of magnification strengths for office use. Our review noted the glasses' lighter amber lenses adeptly shielded against computer use in a number of interior lighting settings. Since these frames are designed to be used with magnification enhancements for ease of reading, the low-profile lens translates into a more business-forward look. While fit wasn't as snug and steady as other models on this list, Prospek's blue light-blocking glasses are available in three different sizes at a standard width (just under 6"). Lenses are finished with an anti-glare and anti-fog coating, which makes for easier wear with appropriate face coverings in a shared office setting.

    Eye strain and digital overexposure are a concern for those who spend hours upon hours gaming inside, which is why Gunnar manufactures some of the most aggressively tinted glasses lenses we've seen. With various tint options available on most of the brand's frames, Gunnar also applies a silicone anti-scratch coating and UV blocking finishes to each of their glasses. Interestingly, their tinted shades are also available with prescription lenses, making them a solid choice for children or teens who are working to reduce digital eye strain and overexposure effects at home. Shoppers can choose from four different tint finishes; level 35, a clear output, up to 98, which are specifically designed to prevent screen exposure from impacting circadian rhythm during nighttime television or computer sessions.

    Photo credit: Hearst Owned
    Photo credit: Hearst Owned

    How we tested blue light glasses:

    Good Housekeeping editors evaluated blue light glasses firsthand by wearing each pair throughout work days spent in front of laptops, monitors and desktop computers, as well as after-hours activities such as television watching and video game playing. We asked a wide array of editors — all with various head and face shapes and sizes, as well as varying lifestyles and schedules — to review glasses featured in this guide over the span of two consecutive months. They probed if these glasses were comfortable to wear, their performance under frequent use, and reported whether they noticed any reduction in eye strain or other observations during the review process.

    As you'll learn below, there is little to no clinical research or academic evidence to support claims that suggest blue light glasses reduce eye strain or chronic headaches linked to excess screen time all on their own. Blue light glasses often provide subjective comfort to those who choose to wear them — but as there are no manufacturing standards for blue-light blocking lenses established by governing groups like the American Academy of Ophthalmology, our testing solely rested on users' reported feedback on sustained comfort, product durability and self-monitored reactions to extended use of electronics. Eye experts told Good Housekeeping that measuring the efficacy of a pair of blue light-blocking lenses is mired in confusion, as there has yet to be a "gold standard" developed by leading experts in the field of eye care.

    Photo credit: Hearst Owned
    Photo credit: Hearst Owned

    What to look for when shopping for the best blue light glasses:

    A market full of blue light glasses has sprung up over the last few years, with a range of affordable options to prescription-backed designer options that may even be partially covered by your optical insurance. But finding the right pair of blue light glasses can feel overwhelming, as standalone opticals aren't regulated by any healthcare organization, and distinguishing a well-made pair among low-cost options can be quite difficult. Try to use the following parameters to help you pick the best pair of blue light-blocking glasses when shopping around:

    ✔️ Tinted versus opaque lenses: Without advanced tools and in-the-know experts, it's impossible to tell how much blue light a pair of glasses is capable of filtering just by looking at them. The best way to see if a pair of glasses actually aim to curtail exposure to electronic light is to examine the tint on the lenses closely; previously published research suggests that amber-tinted shades filter out blue light more effectively than clear, translucent lenses, especially over an extended period of use. Generally speaking, a darker tint equates to more blue light exposure being effectively blocked; while there are clear lenses used in blue light-blocking products, they may not be as effective as a tinted option. Tinted lenses are visible to most consumers when reviewing products in person, but you can ask retailers about the level of tint on their products when online shopping, too.

    ✔️ Fit tests and try-on services: Every face has a different shape, so it's crucial that you shop for blue light glasses as you would any other kind of eyewear — by trying them on! Some retailers, including Felix Gray and Warby Parker among others, feature direct-to-consumer fit tests that allow you to try on a few different frames to ensure they fit well before purchasing. You want the frames to be comfortable on your face; they can't be pinching your temples or consistently sliding off your nose if you plan to wear them throughout your work and evening routine. Some retailers offer virtual technology as well, but your best bet is a physical try-on before you buy — try wearing them for at least 10 minutes before you decide on fit.

    ✔️ Prescription lenses: Nearly all prescription glasses, from reading glasses to bifocals, can be filled by the best retailers with additional layers of blue light-blocking add-on coatings. If you currently wear glasses to correct your vision, you shouldn't consider separate lenses just for electronic use. While it's always necessary to discuss any drastic changes to your prescription lenses with your doctor beforehand, most of the retailers featured in this guide offer effective prescription glasses that can be bolstered with a blue light-blocking add-on for a minor cost. You should consider blue light add-ons alongside other options, including anti-scratch and anti-reflective coatings. Don't forget to ask if your vision insurance can cover some of your costs.

    Photo credit: Hearst Owned
    Photo credit: Hearst Owned

    Do blue light glasses really work?

    While their popularity has certainly skyrocketed as more people transition into a permanent work-from-home schedule, blue light glasses are controversial among healthcare providers, as there is not enough substantial research data to support their use to reduce eye strain or to help improve sleep. "There is little to no evidence supporting the use of blue-light blocking glasses lenses in promoting eye health," summarizes Rahul Khurana, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). This position is also supported by other leading healthcare organizations like the American Macular Degeneration Foundation.

    A landmark review of published research released in 2017 found insufficient evidence to suggest that blue light glasses could improve eye fatigue in any sense, boost overall eye health at all, nor could it work to improve disruptions to sleep patterns. More recently, a 2021 double-blind randomized study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology took aim at eye strain specifically by organizing 120 symptomatic computer users into two groups; one wearing marketed blue-light blocking spectacles, and others just regular clear lenses.

    "They basically looked at two hours' worth of computer tasks and then looked to see if it made any difference — and researchers found that these lenses made no difference at all, in regards to eye strain specifically, by two different methods," Dr. Khurana tells Good Housekeeping.

    The most common devices in our offices and homes don't actually emit enough potentially harmful blue light to cause serious harm associated with this specific light frequency, explains David A. Eichenbaum, M.D., FASRS, a board-certified ophthalmologist and director of research for Retina Vitreous Associates in Florida.

    "Blue light generated from LED devices, computer screens, iPhones, even LED light bulbs, is just not bright enough; the lumens aren't great enough to damage your eyes from a medical standpoint," Dr. Eichenbaum explains. "The Sun emits blue light, and staring at the Sun is obviously bad for your eyes… It's a pinpoint high luminescence light source. But the blue light from your phone, monitor, or far away from car light bulbs is almost certainly not going to hurt your eyes, as the power of the light is very low."

    Photo credit: Hearst Owned
    Photo credit: Hearst Owned

    Does increased blue light exposure impact sleep quality?

    Blue light emissions from intense sunlight exposure have been linked to macular degeneration, risk of cataracts and some other eye conditions — but electronics aren't known to emit enough blue light on their own to cause eye strain or serious damage, experts at the AAO have concluded. Where blue light may be more impactful, then, is negatively influencing our circadian rhythms; and late-night computer, phone and television users often experience disruption in their natural sleep cycle.

    "Sleep is where blue light is likely an issue; while there isn't ophthalmic evidence, blue light likely messes with your circadian rhythm, [especially] if you're using a lot of blue screens at night," Dr. Eichenbaum says. "It's good to not sit on your phone at night, or instead read a book with a yellow light… or, use your blue light glasses, if you have them. That would be the [most] appropriate time to use them."

    While blue light glasses may indeed be most effective in the evening hours, Dr. Khuruna adds that many of the best electronics today have settings to limit blue light emissions in the evening. Using these settings and new features may have the same counter effect against blue light exposure at this time of night. Blue light glasses and brightness reduction technology are just two options for working to reset your circadian rhythm and other DIY sleep enhancement tips.

    Photo credit: Hearst Owned
    Photo credit: Hearst Owned

    How can I prevent eye strain when working in front of computers or screens?

    Blue light may not be the main culprit behind eye strain caused by digital exposure, but more Americans are indeed feeling the impact of spending more time than ever in front of screens, according to Dr. Khurana.

    "The normal blink response is about 15 blinks per minute… when you're reading or looking at a screen, that goes down to about five per minute. So as a result, when you're not blinking as much, your eyes dry out, which makes them itchy and irritated," he says. "And trying to focus too hard may also cause headaches, fatigue and blurred vision. The really big issue we're dealing with is digital eye strain, and blue light blocking glasses have done nothing to really minimize that, according to available data."

    Blue light glasses may indirectly remind you to blink at an increased frequency, or practice better habits when working in front of a computer or sitting behind a screen. AAO officials make the following recommendations in order to reduce the risk of eye strain over time:

    1. Sitting at least an arm's length away from the screen in question, if not further.

    2. Taking frequent screen breaks, by looking away from the screen for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes. You can install handy digital extensions to help remind you to do so.

    3. Use lubricating eye drops that are free of preservatives, especially if your doctor has already discussed dry eyes with you previously.

    4. Work to reduce your screen time in the hour leading up to the time you must fall asleep.

    Photo credit: Hearst Owned
    Photo credit: Hearst Owned

    Why trust Good Housekeeping?

    In his role as health editor, Zee Krstic routinely works hand in hand with analysts in the Good Housekeeping Institute to write product reviews featuring their test results. To highlight consumer-facing input from leading health experts, he interweaves doctors' and other healthcare providers' expertise into shopping guides to better educate readers. He also independently reviews new products and services in the wellness space for Good Housekeeping, which he has done previously for Martha Stewart Living and Cooking Light.

    Zee has been shopping and wearing blue light glasses without prescription lenses since November 2018, and has worn blue light-blocking lenses consistently on weekdays beginning in July 2020 in the hopes of stemming eye strain caused by increased exposure to digital screens outside of work hours. He coordinated testing for this guide in 2022 and has personally reviewed each of the pairs listed above, as well as solicited feedback from editorial staff members who participated in hands-on review.

    In constructing this guide, Zee interviewed Rahul Khurana, M.D., a partner at the Northern California Retina Vitreous Associates and a clinical associate ophthalmology professor at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. Dr. Khurana's expertise and research background include retina health, uveitis and drug delivery, and when he's not conducting clinical research, he serves on multiple advisory boards for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. Dr. Khurana also acts as a liaison to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

    Zee also consulted David A. Eichenbaum, M.D., FASRS, a board-certified ophthalmologist and director of research for Retina Vitreous Associates in Florida. Dr. Eichenbaum studies common retinal diseases including dry and wet macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, and retinal vascular disease, having published over 40 articles in research journals over the course of his career. He presents data at the American Society of Retinal Specialists and other groups, and serves as a fellow of the American Society of Retina Specialists as well as a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

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