Blue light glasses have been popular with gamers for a long time due to their perceived benefits in getting a good night’s sleep after spending hours in front of a computer monitor.
This popularity has now spilled over into the mainstream. Max & Miler has seen a 330% increase in blue light glasses sales in the last 2 years alone, and nearly 2 million pairs were sold in 2020 alone.
But do they really work? It depends on who you are asking. There is quite limited research into the effects of blue light on our eyes, but that is changing.
In the US, the American Academy of Ophthalmology claims that people don’t need any special kind of eyewear for computers or other digital devices. The problems they see, they believe, relate to the overuse of digital devices in our modern age.
Soo Much Blue Light
Even before this digital age of computers, laptops, smart phones and the like we were still getting plenty of blue light. Heaps of it comes from the sun. But devices like TVs, smart phones and computers emit the short wavelength blue light. Now with the pandemic in full swing again in Australia, with most of us in lockdown, we’re spending considerably more time in front of these blue light emitting screens.
Getting Some More Sleep
Researchers agree that blue light emitted from our devices holds back the body’s product of melatonin. Melatonin plays a vital role in our natural sleep-wake cycle. Natural levels of melatonin in the blood are highest at night. A 2017 study found that participants who wore blue light glasses of a night during the study showed a 58% increase in nighttime melatonin levels.
Furthermore a 2015 study found that compared to a placebo (i.e. clear lens), blue light blocking glasses ‘significantly attenuated LED-induced melatonin suppression in the evening and decreased vigilant attention and subjective alertness before bedtime” in teenage boys.
Whilst blue light is beneficial during the day in boosting our mood and reaction times, but that same light is disruptive to our sleep at night.
What exactly are blue light blocking lenses?
Blue light blocking lenses do pretty much what the name suggests. They stop blue light from entering the lenses through a material coated over the lens. Despite them being called blue light glasses the lens has more of an orange tinge.
The guys over at Popular Mechanics did this review which we have re-published below:
“I ended up logging close to an extra hour's worth of sleep each night, on average. Some nights, I'd get sleepy before 9:30 p.m. and turn in even before finishing whatever I was watching on Netflix, which is not something I'd normally do. Of course, there were some nights that I stayed up later, too, but the overall average across six weeks showed an improvement in my bedtime. The average time I went to sleep before testing was closer to 11:00 p.m.
I also found that it was easier to get through the workday without grabbing eyedrops, like I sometimes do. While I did still get a little bit of that 2:00 crash, it seemed to have more to do with carb-crashes than eye-strain.
As far as headaches go, I did not notice any drastic improvement. Perhaps this is because blue light lenses don't really help with the strain on eye muscles, or perhaps the benefit of blue light lenses is outweighed by the new pressure behind my ears from the frames resting on my head.
Overall, I felt that my quality of sleep was about the same, but that my ability to fall asleep was improved. Outside of that, I didn't notice any drastic results. It's also possible that my falling asleep was impacted by the placebo effect, but even still, I liked getting the sleep.”
Well, there you have it, the research is mixed in terms of reductions on eye strain, but many of the results suggest that if you spend a lot of time on digital devices before bed, the blue light might affect your melatonin levels which in turn will affect your ability to fall asleep. Personally, I have seen noticeable improvement in my ability to fall asleep if I wear my blue light glasses about 2 hours before bed. Throw a 150mg magnesium supplement in and I’m out like a light.
You can buy Max & Miller’s blue light glasses for $29.99 here.