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The Very Best Blue-Light-Blocking Glasses

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

If you’ve ever suffered from dry, irritated eyes after a long day of staring at your computer, perhaps you’ve been tempted to purchase a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses. If so, you’re certainly not alone. According to a survey by the Vision Council, a group that represents eyeglasses manufacturers, almost 60 percent of Americans experience some symptoms of digital eye strain due to extended time in front of the screen. As a result, a cottage industry of blue-light-filtering glasses has emerged.

Blue-light-blocking glasses are designed to filter active blue light — the kind that promotes wakefulness — before it reaches our eyeballs. Though blue light isn’t the culprit for all digital eye strain, computer screens and our precious smartphones emit blue light that can shift your circadian rhythm, which is why it’s frequently recommended that you avoid too much screen time before sleeping. But if you can’t tear yourself away from Instagram or the dreaded doomscroll before you turn in for the night, blue-light-blocking glasses can help. To find the most effective and stylish options, we scoured the internet and spoke with eye doctors about what they recommend and when to wear them.

Best overall | Best with clear lenses | Most stylish tinted lenses | Best reading glasses | Best clip-ons | Best for kids

What we’re looking for

Blue-light-blocking capability: According to Rahul Khurana, an ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, digital eye strain and the negative effects of blue light on your eyes are two separate concerns. “We keep on thinking about blue light from our computers and smartphones, but the reality is that we get more exposure to blue light from the sun.” Essentially, it’s not the blue light that’s making your eyes feel bad after a day of staring at the computer; it’s staring at a screen for hours without breaks. That’s why Khurana doesn’t recommend any special eyewear for daily computer use. “Ultimately, I’m not really sure how it’s going to help with digital eye strain, which is what’s bothering people,” he says, explaining that the digital eye strain most people experience can occur “whenever you focus on anything — from reading a book, looking at a screen, or watching TV.” It can be alleviated by shifting your eyes every 20 minutes or so onto something that’s 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds, he says. If that doesn’t help, Khurana recommends artificial tears to help lubricate dry eyes. In the end, he says you don’t need to wear blue-light-blocking glasses during the day.

Blue-light-blocking glasses can be useful at night, when blue light from screens can disrupt natural sleep patterns. Our bodies associate blue light with daytime, so being exposed to it when you’re trying to go to bed “pushes our internal clocks later so that it’s harder to fall asleep and harder to wake up in the morning,” says Cathy Goldstein, associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center.

In a perfect world, you’d start to avoid blue light from screens four hours before bedtime. “That is hard for a lot of people to swallow,” admits Goldstein, “so we do sometimes recommend blue-light-blocking glasses at that time.” There’s a growing body of research to back up the claim that blocking blue light before bed can help you sleep better. In one study from 2009, volunteers who wore blue-light-blocking glasses three hours before bed reported better sleep quality and mood than those who didn’t. A 2015 study of teenage boys found similar results.

All light is measured in nanometers (nm) and blue-light wavelengths that can have the most impact on your melatonin levels (and thus affect your sleep) range from 400 to 500 nm. Blue-light-blocking glasses work by absorbing those wavelengths to stop them from reaching your eyes. (Note that despite emitting blue light, most consumer tech is not harmful, and there is no scientific evidence that digital devices can damage your eyes.)

Many blue-light-blocking glasses have an orange or yellow tint that is supposed to absorb the blue light while allowing other light to pass through. (You may have noticed that more and more devices and apps have a night-shift mode that casts the screen in an orange or yellow hue as it filters out blue light.) Generally, the darker the lenses on a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses, the more blue light is blocked. While there are clear or less obviously tinted blue-light-blocking lenses, they won’t filter as much blue light as darker options. Many brands of blue-light-blocking glasses list a percentage of blue light that will be blocked by their lenses; we’ve included those percentages for each pair of glasses below.

Blue-light-blocking glasses may have anti-glare coating, which decreases the amount of light reflecting from your glasses to further reduce eye strain and make them more comfortable to use. We’ve noted this below as well.

Style and lens color: Since the best time to use blue-light-blocking glasses is in the evening or right before bed (which means you’re unlikely to wear them out of the house), the function-first, orange-tinted design of many pairs will suffice for a lot of people. But if you hate the look of the orange tint, we’ve found some blue-light-blocking glasses with almost clear lenses — as long as you’re willing to sacrifice some of their light-filtering capabilities. If you want something a bit more stylish overall, there are different frame materials to choose from including wire, plastic, and acetate. If you don’t already wear prescription or reading glasses, any pair of blue-light-blocking glasses will be easy to pick up and use. But if you do, you’ll want to look for either a prescription pair, reading glasses with blue-light-blocking capabilities, or something that will clip onto or fit over the top of your existing glasses.

Best overall blue-light-blocking glasses

Block 98 percent of blue light | No anti-glare coating | Orange-tinted lenses | Nonprescription

If you want to use the same blue-light-blocking glasses that researchers use in the lab, go for Uvex. “They’re usually less than $10, and these have been used in studies,” says Goldstein. “It’s shown that when you use these, the light doesn’t suppress your melatonin, so the glasses can improve sleep.” They’re not as nice-looking as some of the other blue-light-filtering glasses out there, but since the best time to use them is right before bed (and not at the office), there’s no reason to be embarrassed. The Uvex glasses come in a pack of three pairs, so you can keep them in multiple places or have a spare on hand if you lose or break one.

Best clear-lens blue-light-blocking glasses

Block 50 percent of blue light | Anti-glare coating | Virtually clear lenses | Nonprescription, prescription, or readers

If you’d prefer more subtle-looking blue-light-blocking glasses, there are quite a few companies making versions with nearly transparent lenses and stylish frames. This pair comes from Felix Gray — a brand that helped popularize the idea of wearing blue-light-blocking glasses at the office (despite the inherent limits of wearing them during the day). Felix Gray says these “daytime” glasses filter more than 50 percent of the blue-light spectrum and more than 90 percent of the most impactful wavelengths emitted by smartphones, laptops, and tablets. They have anti-glare coating to reduce eye strain and are also available with prescription lenses or as reading glasses. If you don’t like the Jemison design, there are several more to choose from — including round-frame, metal-frame, and even low-bridge-fit styles.

Most stylish tinted-lens blue-light-blocking glasses

Block 62 percent of blue light | Anti-glare coating | Lightly tinted yellow lenses| Nonprescription, prescription, or readers

Felix Gray makes blue-light-filtering glasses in many of the same styles as their clear “daytime” glasses except with tinted “amber” lenses that filter a higher percentage of blue light and will be more effective — especially at night. The glasses are intended to let you do whatever you want in the precious hours before bedtime (scroll through social media, watch YouTube) without the blue light affecting your sleep. While the clear glasses block 50 percent of all blue light, the tinted glasses block 62 percent. The tinted lenses specifically target the range of blue light that impacts melatonin, which is why they’re recommended for use before sleep. “It doesn’t seem like a major difference on paper, but the lenses of the amber glasses have a noticeably stronger yellow tint,” says Strategist editor Maxine Builder. “The overall effect when you put them on isn’t too distorting. Everything just looks a little less bright — like someone dialed down the lights.” The glasses have anti-glare coating and are available with nonprescription, prescription, or reading lenses.

Best blue-light-blocking reading glasses

Block 90 percent of blue light | No anti-glare coating | Clear lenses | Nonprescription with magnification from +0.0 to +3.0

Look Optic is a direct-to-consumer brand with a design team made up of Oliver Peoples alumni that makes handsome reading glasses. The brand offers blue-light protection in some of their most popular styles — either with magnification or without. These particular frames come in nine colors, and you can choose a magnification between +0.0 and +3.0. Look Optic has ten other styles to pick from as well.

Best clip-on blue-light-blocking glasses

Block 87 or 99 percent of blue light depending on tint | Anti-glare coating | Yellow-tinted or orange-tinted lenses | Nonprescription

If you already wear prescription glasses, you might appreciate this pair that clips onto your existing frames to block up to 99 percent of blue light — depending on whether you chose yellow- or orange-tinted lenses. One enthusiastic Amazon reviewer reports that they “fit securely onto my night glasses without having an obnoxious or clunky nose guard that I’ve seen in other competitive brands” and do “a great job staying in place on my frames.” Another reviewer reports experiencing significantly less eye strain while watching television or using the computer and says the glasses allow them to rest more easily at night.

Best blue-light-blocking glasses for kids

Block 90 percent of blue light | No anti-glare coating | Clear lenses

“I personally have noticed a huge difference in my daughter’s sleep but also in her focus and attention to the classwork she’s doing,” says Brook Sheehan, a California-based chiropractor and mom of a fourth-grader who has worn blue-light glasses for three years. The glasses have a black frame and pink temples and come with a rabbit-shaped waterproof case, cleaning cloth, and blue-light torch to test the lenses. As Sheehan explains, the brand has “really cute kid colors and shapes for the cases to make it fun.” (These are available with blue, green, and red temples in addition to an all-black style.)

As with blue-light-blocking glasses for adults, those designed for kids won’t solve issues related to eye strain. “If you’re looking at a book for five hours a day, you’re going to have a lot of eye strain, and there’s no blue light coming from that,” says Milan Ranka, an ophthalmologist at Pediatric Ophthalmic Consultants in New York City. Viola Kanevsky, an optometrist at Acuity NYC, adds, “I don’t think blue light causes any more eye strain than going outside.” A better way for kids to relieve eye strain and related issues, according to Kanevsky and Ranka, is following Khurana’s aforementioned 20-20-20 guidance. “For every 20 minutes you’re doing something, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds,” says Ranka. “I tell my 6-, 7-, and 8-year-old patients to look out the window every 15 to 20 minutes. Look for a tree and blink your eyes a few times.”

That said, blue-light-blocking glasses can help kids with the same side effects of screen time that many adults experience — namely, poor sleep and migraines.

Our experts

• Maxine Builder, Strategist editor
Cathy Goldstein, associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center
Viola Kanevsky, optometrist at Acuity NYC
Rahul Khurana, ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology
Milan Ranka, ophthalmologist at Pediatric Ophthalmic Consultants
Brook Sheehan, chiropractor and parent

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