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If you’re reading this, you’re on a screen—maybe two—and chances are it’s not your first time of the day nor will it be your last. The truth is, most of us are on screens for a good chunk of the day. In fact, it’s only getting easier as we move further into a smarter, more connected future. The problem is, our eyes weren’t built for a steady stream of blue light from screens, and it really shows in how we sleep...or don’t.
“Most medical experts recommend limiting screen time late in the evening and prior to bed (up to two hours prior to bed in some studies) as blue light from our gadgets can confuse the body about when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to sleep,” says Dr. Jason Brinton, a St. Louis-based ophthalmologist. “As the sun sets, less light hits the retina inside the eyes, and through a complex chain of events, the pineal gland ramps up its output of the hormone melatonin [which] signals to the body ‘it’s time to go to bed.’”
Sleep disruptions aren't the only negative effect of blue light, although, the science is murky. “Some of my patients will tell me that blue light blocking glasses help reduce migraine symptoms or eye strain at the computer,” Brinton says. “Evidence is sparse and conflicting when it comes to whether blue light blocking lenses per se are responsible for this benefit. We do know that our blink rate decreases substantially when focusing on something like a computer screen, and a decreased blink rate means a higher risk of eye dryness and fatigue.”
Are your eyes starting to hurt just reading this? Then it sounds like it might be time to grab a pair of the best blue light blocking glasses, below.
Best Overall: Felix Gray Nash Glasses
The lenses found in Felix Gray frames are what set them apart. “We’re unique in that all we do is focus on alleviating computer-related symptoms by filtering blue light to combat digital eye strain and eliminating glare,” CEO and co-founder David Roger says. “Our proprietary technology allows us to embed a naturally occurring ocular pigment into the lens to be the most effective, clear blue light solution.”
This integrated technology blocks 50% of all blue light while blocking almost 90% of the highest range, most concerning blue light—the highest energy wavelengths of 400-440 nm—all without distorting color. “All our lenses feature a premium anti-reflective (AR) coating that blocks 99% of glare,” Roger adds, referring to the UV protective coating to every lens ensuring top-notch protection.
In addition to all the fancy tech specs, Felix Gray offers some seriously stylish frames in optical, sleep, and sun in a number of color varieties. Most frames are offered in widths from wide to narrow as well as standard or low nose bridge fits. Between the premium blue light protection and the colors, style, and fit options, you’d be hard-pressed not to find a pair that works for you.
Best Style: Warby Parker Butler Glasses
Scroll through the seemingly endless range of shapes, sizes, and colors and no doubt you’ll agree Warby Parker wins for best style, if for no other reason than it has a style for everyone. From trend-driven terrazzo tort and rose gold wingtips to classic aviators and bold Buddy Holly-inspired specs, you can’t go wrong with any of the reasonably priced frames.
Warby Parker has blue light lenses available as an add-on option for every frame, so the selection is actually much larger. Once you find a style you love, customize the lenses to your liking.
Best for Women: FLOWER by Drew Blue Light Computer Glasses
If you’re looking for a grab-and-go style that you can toss in your bag, keep at your desk, or store in your nightstand (all three if you want, given how affordable these are) the stylish Flower by Drew specs are the answer. Available in a universally flattering selection of round shapes and clean colors, these will handle whatever your busy life throws at them.
Best Cat Eye: J.Crew Pacific Cat-Eye Blue-Light Glasses
J.Crew delivers what may be the perfect pair of cat-eye glasses. Popular in the 1950s and 1960s among women rocking the beehive, this iconic style has graced many a famous face, including Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and of course Dame Edna. This silhouette has been beautifully brought into the 21st century by adding the technology we need now more than ever...the blue light lens. With that modernization comes an alternative to the thick, black rims as well—clear polycarbonate and copper frames. Whichever frame you choose, your look will remain chic and sophisticated.
Best Variety: Quay Australia Jezabell Glasses
No one ever said blocking blue light had to be boring and Quay Australia proves it. If you’re looking for the basics—round, rectangle, square—you can find them here, but when fortune favors the bold, you might as well go for the gold. By fortune, we mean affordable and by gold, we mean shiny styles such as the Heartbreaker, Jezabell, or Circle Back.
Best Readers: Prive Revaux The Angelou Glasses
Prive Revaux founders include Jamie Foxx, Ashley Benson, and Hailee Steinfeld. Their goal is to get stylish readers on the face of all who need them.
Readers from Prive Revaux are available from 0.75 to 3.50 magnification and come paired with advanced UVA and UVB protection plus anti-blue light technology. In a selection of colors and styles that suit just about any face and wardrobe, these are just as easy to grab when you leave your full-time glasses at home as they are a great pair to use all on their own.
Best Value: livho 2 Pack Blue Light Blocking Glasses
If you are looking to protect your eyes from long days of staring at screens, but do not need all the bells and whistles offered by prescription frames, reach for these blue light blocking glasses—yes, plural because you get two glasses per order. These frames offer everything you need to protect your eyes during your 9-to-5 and are available in a well-curated selection of colors.
Editor Favorite: Zak The Round I Glasses
OK, we like all of the brands on our list, but the subtle variations in the styles laid out by Zak make us particularly happy. After you choose which shape you like, the subtleties that really help define a face emerge. Further still, each style is available with optical lenses or those suitable for the sun, which means if you fall in love with a style, you can literally wear it everywhere.
Best for Sleep: Pixel Asper (Amber) Glasses
With all the talk (and text, considering you’re reading this) about how beneficial blue light glasses are for more and more moments while you’re awake, it needs to be reiterated that they also do wonders for you when you’re asleep. When you’re curled up before bed binging the latest episodes on Netflix or avoiding falling asleep because there is just too much to see on your feed, wearing amber lenses from Pixel is going to help you sleep better and get there sooner.
Best for Outdoors: Shady Rays Blueshade Acadia Glasses
Having one pair of glasses is enough for some people, but that means they need to do a lot of heavy lifting. Between the blue light indoors and UV light outdoors, it’s hard to imagine one set of frames could do it all and still look good. In fact, Shady Rays specialize in just that and succeed quite stylishly.
This company is focused on making great shades to live active and worry-free in the great outdoors. All styles feature shatter-resistant, high-visibility Polarized lenses with durable construction. Even better? Shady Rays has free replacements if lost or broken and offers a lifetime warranty.
Best for Men: Garrett Leight Wilson Glasses
Managing to toe the line between classic and contemporary flawlessly, the intricate detailing of Garrett Leight frames has now been extended to those needing blue light lenses. Offering a stainless steel frame with acetate Windsor rims and temples and clamp-on nose pads with adjustable metal arms, these are a comfortable fit on just about any man’s face.
Available in nine color combos—which is impressive given the slim profile of these frames—there are numerous other styles for both men and women available from Garrett Leight. Although on the pricier end of the spectrum, you’re getting what you pay for. It uses exclusive materials from some of the best suppliers in the world and its lenses are made of mineral glass and scratch-resistant CR-39 plastic, with anti-reflective coating and other treatments for optimal eye protection.
What to Look For in Blue Light Glasses
Your Frame of Choice
Just as you would when shopping for non-blue light blocking glasses, you'll want to choose a frame that complements your face shape and overall style. Shop around for different options, and have fun with both the virtual and in-person try-on options until you find your favorite style.
Level of Tint
Take note of just how tinted the lenses are in the glasses you choose. While the differences between the options may seem stylistic at surface level, the amount of tint can help to reduce the amount of blue light that gets filtered out. If your goal in buying blue light glasses is to improve your quality of sleep, studies have shown that amber-tinted lenses have been more effective than their clear counterparts in promoting sound sleep with a delayed wake time.
Anti-Glare and Anti-Reflective Lenses
In addition to having lenses that block blue light, options that boast anti-glare and anti-reflective properties can also reduce the amount of stress and strain on your eyes .
What is blue light?
According to Gary Heiting, O.D., blue light is a wavelength of visible light emitted by electronic screens, like the one on your computer, phone, or tablet. "Blue light has the highest energy of all components of visible light—nearly the same amount as some ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are associated with skin cancer, cataracts, and other eye health problems," he says. "Though blue light has less energy than UV, it penetrates deeper into the eye—all the way to the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eyeball."
How does blue light impact my eyes?
Although more research is needed to show exactly how much blue light can cause retina damage and vision loss (and whether or not our devices would cause these problems), Heiting notes that "many eye doctors are concerned about the potential long-term effects of blue light on our eyes." Additionally, blue light exposure has been linked to eye strain, discomfort, and can worsen the effects of dry eye, while also throwing off your circadian rhythm.
How do blue light glasses work?
Just like sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun, blue light glasses are meant to protect your eyes against the blue light from your computer, phone, or tablet screen. The lenses on blue light glasses work to filter out a percentage of the artificial blue light, helping to reduce the side effects caused by eye strain.