By Cristina Corvino, Senior Digital Editor
Let me start by saying that I'm a pretty good sleeper and rarely get headaches. (I swear I'm not rubbing it in — just giving you the facts!) But I DO feel a decent amount of eye strain & fatigue (sometimes burning ... just me?) after 8+ hours in front of a computer screen on workdays, followed by lots of social media scrolling, coupled with roughly about three to four hours of TV a night. (I'm currently watching "Defending Jacob."). Okay okay, followed again by more scrolling in bed in complete darkness — when I naturally find the screen to be the most painful, even after dimming the brightness on my phone.
So when I kept hearing about blue light glasses — not only from our friend, "The Sleep Doctor" Dr. Breus, but also from friends — I wanted to try them, but didn't know where to start. Amber lenses or clear lenses? Are the expensive ones automatically better? Should I even bother trying a decently priced pair, let alone a budget pair?
Well, I tried a few pairs — ranging from $18 to $145 — to find out. (Full disclosure: I got complementary pairs of each to try.)
First things first …
Yes, I've seen the debates, and I'm not here to tell you if blue light glasses work from a medical standpoint because I'm not a doctor (but I can say that Dr. Breus, a frequent guest on the show, stands by his for better sleep — but we'll get to that in a second) or tell you which blue light-blocking technology is scientifically best (because, as you'll see, yes, there are lots — and I'm no scientist). But I am here to tell you how each pair felt for me personally.
Everyone's different, and again, this isn't medical advice (and we're not saying all of these pairs have been medically approved) — so consult your eye doctor or a sleep specialist to decide what might be best for you and your eyes.
Blue light-blocking technology: Amber lenses
How I see myself using them: Nighttime social media scrolling before bed
"You want to get the amber lenses, and make sure that they've been approved by a sleep specialist," "The Sleep Doctor" says.
What I thought: When I put on this pair (which are only supposed to be worn at night because of the Amber lenses, by the way!), my eyes almost immediately felt soothed, and I found that my eyes didn't burn or feel as strained while I was scrolling and when I finally closed my eyes to sleep. The glasses themselves were also very comfortable. With that said, the color distortion from the amber lenses does take a little getting used to — and is even a little distracting at first. Small price to pay to help stop my eyes from burning, though? I'd say so.
FYI, if you already wear prescription glasses, Dr. Breus just came out with fitover blue light glasses — which I didn't personally try, by the way — to wear over your prescription pair.
BUDGET BLUE LIGHT GLASSES
2. Urban Outfitters Indigo Aviator Blue Light Glasses, $18
Note: Bummer! These are now sold out.
How I see myself using them: Minimal computer & phone time
What I thought: These felt a little fragile at first and like they needed some breaking in — but they're super lightweight. In fact, at first, I would almost forget that they were even on, which I appreciated. The color distortion was pretty subtle, albeit still noticeable. It felt like they were working because I felt soothed when I put them on and when I took them off, the computer light immediately felt harsh. I didn't find them comfortable enough to keep on for a full workday, but they're a solid budget-friendly, low-commitment option if you're just giving blue light glasses a try.
HIGH-END BLUE LIGHT GLASSES
3. Felix Gray Volta In Sazerac, $95 (non-RX) to $145 (Rx)
Blue light-blocking technology: Embedded blue light filtering material inside lens
How I see myself using them: Workdays in front of my computer
What I thought: I found there to be little to no color distortion when I put these on and I still felt relief from my computer screen. These were definitely comfortable enough to keep on during a normal 8-hour workday, which was great. The only thing was I tried the Volta (which I loved aesthetically!), but because they're a Wide pair, they kept slipping off the bridge of my nose throughout the day. So be mindful of the three size options Felix Gray has — Narrow, Medium & Wide — and be sure to select the right one for you, even if you fall in love with a certain style like I did. (There are so many cute styles to choose from, after all!)
4. Warby Parker Francis in Fig Tortoise (Medium Width), $145 (non-RX or Rx)
Blue light-blocking mechanism: Embedded blue light filtering material inside lens
How I see myself using them: Watching TV
What I thought: I requested these with my Rx (more on that later) so that I could try them while I watch TV (I'm nearsighted) and it felt like I was putting on a regular pair of glasses — no color distortion at all. I didn't notice immediate relief while watching TV — that's how subtle the filtering technology is — but after a few wears, it did feel like they were secretly providing relief because my eyes went back to feeling a bit strained when I tried wearing my regular glasses to watch TV one night. (Honestly, blue light filtering aside, I fell in love with these as a back-up pair of glasses.)
If you want to give them a try — and since they're a bit of a splurge — don't forget to take advantage of Warby Parker's at-home try-on feature so you can pick the right fit & style for you before committing. (Again, SO many stylish options!) If you're trying them on solely for style and not necessarily for fit, you can also try their virtual try-on feature via the Warby Parker app. Bonus: If you do decide a pair is right for you, for every pair purchased, a pair is distributed to someone in need.
CELEB-LOVED BLUE LIGHT GLASSES
5. Privé Riveaux, The Alchemist, $30– $40 (non-Rx) or $130 – $140 (Rx)
Blue light-blocking mechanism: Anti-blue light coating
How I see myself using them: Casual phone scrolling throughout the day
What I thought: For starters, I was told that The Alchemist is one of JLo's favorites, so I felt very cool trying them. (Jamie Foxx and Olivia Culpo are among other celebs who have partnered with the brand.) The color distortion on these was noticeable at first, but not distracting — and again, my eyes definitely noticed when I took them off. (Running theme!) The glasses themselves are rather lightweight, but the nose pads took some getting used to since my regular glasses don't have them. (Privé does have pairs without the nose pads, too, if you'd rather.) I also think my pair might just have to be loosened a bit.
I Checked My Glasses Prescription Virtually — Here's How
My Rx expired during the pandemic — even though I was still happy with my current prescription — and I didn't feel comfortable getting it renewed in person quite yet at the time, so I used Warby Parker's virtual prescription check via their app, Prescription Check app, for $15. The test was super easy (all I needed was my iPhone, computer and my current prescription glasses), took about 10 minutes and my results were in by the next day. I also needed to confirm my PD (pupillary distance — a term I didn't know until I was told I needed to confirm mine!) before my order could be fulfilled, and I was able to do that on the Warby Parker app in under two minutes. It was honestly just as easy, if not easier (ha!), as taking a selfie. With that said, please note that this prescription check + the PD check are NOT replacements for a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor. It's super important to regularly get your eyes checked by a doc!
Here's what I learned after trying five pairs of blue light glasses:
- Fit is key. After trying five different pairs, I learned that fit is really important. If you're going to invest in a long-term pair, getting them fitted just for you is key. While I could recognize that the filtering lenses were helping in most cases, if the fit wasn't quite right, that made all the difference.
- I'm not going to call them life-changing (yet), but I did get somewhat attached. I've been trying blue light glasses for about three weeks now, so I think dubbing them life-changing would be premature, but I found that the moment I started working on my computer without blue light lenses of any kind (simply because I just forgot to put them on) after trying various pairs for a few weeks, my eyes were not pleased. So I'd say blue light filters generally did seem to give my eyes relief on some level, personally. And yes, I know what some of you might say — it could all be in my head that they make any difference. But let me see life through blue light-filtered glasses for a while, why don't you? 😉
- Screen breaks are still necessary. Yes, I felt some relief and found these to be good options for when I have no other choice but to stare at a screen for multiple hours at a time — which is every weekday, really. (And yes, I also think they can be pretty stinkin' cute.) But at the end of the day, nothing gives your eyes more of a break from screens than doing just that … giving them a break from screens!