Blue light blocking glasses have recently gained in popularity. I jumped on the bandwagon a couple of months ago and purchased a pair for each member of the Kummer family, including the kids.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for us to stop using them.
Because they didn’t work! We didn’t fall asleep quicker, or sleep any better. In fact, none of us felt any different at all.
So I chalked all the buzz about blue light glasses up to hype, concluding that they aren’t worth the money. And I maintained that opinion until I tried a pair of glasses from BLUblox.
BLUblox Blue Light Blocking Glasses
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about…
- The impact of certain light frequencies on the human body
- The pros and cons of blue light
- What to look out for when buying blue light blocking glasses
- And why I think BLUblox are the best blue light blockers on the market
I’ll also explain how you can test the blue light glasses you already own to see if they block the right frequencies of light.
What You Need to Know About Light
Both visible and invisible light is made up of different wavelengths. And each frequency carries a different quantum of energy.
Technically, it’s photons that carry that energy, but I’ll spare you the physics lesson for this article. What’s important to understand is that light can be represented as a spectrum of different frequencies ranging all the way from ultraviolet to infrared.
The visible light frequencies are wedged in between those two.
How Light Influences Our Bodies
If you did pay attention during your high school or college physics classes, you may remember that waves carry energy. And one factor that determines how much energy a wave can carry is its wavelength.
Light is part matter and part wave, so it too carries energy. And that energy impacts our bodies in different ways — again, depending on its wavelength.
How Light Impacts Our Circadian Rhythm
Each cell in the human body has a biological clock that governs how the cell operates. Scientists call this phenomenon the circadian rhythm, and it has evolved over millions of years in close relationship with the timing of sunrise and sunset.
That’s how many of the chemical processes in the human body, such as the release of cortisol in the morning or the release of melatonin in the evening, became closely connected to the presence of light (or lack thereof).
These days, we have the science to prove that certain frequencies of light can either support or impair the release of particular hormones. For example, we know that green and blue light in the spectrum of 400-550 nm (even if it’s dim) can negatively impact the release of melatonin.
With the invention of electricity, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in particular, humans have started to interfere with this well-tuned process.
In other words, scientists have shown that certain light frequencies negatively impact sleep because they don’t occur in nature after sunset. The only reason why we’re exposed to these frequencies is because of artificial lights from LEDs and electronic devices.
In case you’re wondering, neither fire nor candlelight emit those sleep-disrupting frequencies, so the invention of fire about 2 million years ago didn’t change how humans responded to light after sunset.
While the exposure to blue and green light after sunset can negatively impact your health and well-being, you want to expose yourself to those frequencies as soon as the sun rises.
I’m not saying to expose yourself to artificial light all day, but you should definitely be exposed to all of the frequencies that make up sunlight during the day.
The Case for Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Considering that many of us have high exposure rates to certain frequencies of light (emitted by artificial sources) during the day, as well as after sunset, it makes sense to limit blue light exposure and mimic that of natural sources.
That makes the case for wearing blue light or blue light blocking glasses after sunset and, in some cases, even during the day — if you suffer from digital eye strain, for example.
I work from home, and my office has three large windows that let in sufficient amounts of natural light. Additionally, I’ve configured my iMac to automatically turn on Night Shift between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Night Shift is supposed to make the color temperature of your Mac’s screen warmer (by removing some of the blues) after sunset. But it does such a poor job at filtering out blue and green light that it’s not worth using it for that purpose.
However, it does do a reasonable job of filtering out some of the blue light frequencies that might cause you issues during the day, such as digital eye strain, eye fatigue, dry eye or headaches.
By exposing myself to enough natural light, combined with enabling Night Shift on my Mac during the day, I don’t have to worry about wearing blue light blocking glasses with transparent lenses (also known as computer glasses).
However, as soon as the sun sets, I put on glasses that block 100% of the harmful blue light frequencies — and I usually keep them on until we turn off the lights in our bedroom.
Types of Blue Light Blocking Glasses
|Lens Color||When to Wear|
|Transparent||During the day when exposed to artificial light (e.g., a computer screen).|
|Yellow||During the day when you suffer from light-sensitivity issues.|
Blue light blocking glasses are available in different colors, as you can see in the table above.
Besides computer glasses and blue light glasses with red/orange lenses, there are a third type of glasses you could consider wearing.
These are also blue light glasses with yellow lenses that are meant to be worn during the day by people who suffer from severe light sensitivity issues, such as anxiety, depression, migraines or seasonal affective disorder.
Since I don’t suffer from any of those issues, I have never tried yellow glasses and can’t comment on their effectiveness.
As you may have already guessed, transparent lenses filter out the least amount of blue and green light, followed by yellow lenses. Only high-quality orange or red lenses can block out all the wavelengths in the 400-550 nm spectrum.
How Not to Use Blue Light Blocking Glasses
When I first started my journey with blue light blocking glasses, I didn’t know how to correctly use them. So I bought what turned out to be a pair of computer glasses, and I wore them after sunset.
Unsurprisingly, my glasses had no impact whatsoever on my sleep quality or sleep onset. That’s why I stopped wearing them.
The lesson I learned from that experiment was to select the right type of blue light filtering glasses for what you’re trying to accomplish.
In other words, don’t wear computer glasses after sunset (because they won’t work). And don’t wear glasses that block 100% of green and blue light while the sun is out (because you need blue light exposure during the day).
BLUblox: The Best Blue Light Blocking Eyeglasses
- Scientifically proven to block the right light frequencies.
- Available in three different types to support a variety of use cases (Blulite, SummerGlow and Sleep+).
- Made in Australia from high-quality materials.
- Available as non-prescription lenses or prescription glasses.
- Available as reading glasses with magnification options.
- Available in adult and kid sizes.
BLUblox’s founder Andy Mant realized that most blue light blockers on the market don’t actually filter the appropriate wavelengths of light to make a real difference. So he decided to create his own brand.
After I learned more about how blue light blocking glasses work from a podcast that Andy was a guest on, I wanted to give blue light blockers another try to see if I could optimize my body’s sleep cycle and melatonin release process.
In other words, I wanted to see if I could make myself as sleepy as I feel after taking a melatonin supplement.
To give myself the best chance of success, I decided to go with a brand that’s known for making high-quality lenses that have been scientifically proven to block the right frequencies of light.
That’s how I ended up getting a pair of Hudson Sleep+ from BLUblox, which I’ve been wearing religiously over the past few weeks.
The first thing I noticed when I took the glasses out of their case was how lightweight yet solid they felt. They were unlike the cheap pair of computer glasses I had gotten from Amazon a couple of months before.
The frame is made from high-quality acetate, a type of plastic that’s sturdy yet lightweight. It’s also incredibly smooth, which makes the glasses feel comfortable on your skin.
As far as the lenses are concerned, you should know that the transparent lenses BLUblox offers (Bluelite) feature an anti-glare coating that ensures minimal color distortion. Obviously, the colors of all objects do look distorted when you view them through tinted lenses (SummerGlo or Sleep+).
The second difference between my new and old glasses is the color of their lenses.
As I mentioned, my previous pair of blue light glasses had transparent lenses, while the pair of BLUblox (Hudson Sleep+) glasses I now use has orange lenses.
Here’s the thing: You need tinted lenses to block the frequencies of light that can disrupt your melatonin production. There’s no way around that.
The problem is that these lenses take some getting used to, because they give everything you see a tint. I got used to it after a few days, and it no longer bothers me. But if you enjoy watching TV after sunset, you might find the distorted colors bothersome.
How My Sleep Has Changed
After wearing my BLUblox glasses for a few days, I began noticing how sleepy I’d feel close to bedtime. Previously, I had only felt like that while supplementing with melatonin.
That was a clear sign that my body was doing what it was supposed to: release sleep-inducing hormones, including melatonin.
It was also a sign that I wasn’t disrupting that process by bombarding myself with wavelengths of light that wouldn’t occur in nature after sunset.
As a result, I would fall asleep quicker and get more slow-wave (deep sleep) every night.
One of my good friends had a similar experience. Here’s a note he sent me about his experience with BLUblox, after using the glasses for several months:
I’m what you consider a night person. 10 p.m. is early for me, and because of that, I often spend part of my evening looking at a screen. The problem was that I would often force myself to sleep, even though I was not sleepy.
That problem went away thanks to the BLUblox Sleep+ glasses. Now I enjoy my evening and go to sleep when my body naturally feels the need.
FYI — not all blue light blocking glasses are created equal. I first purchased a $20 pair that didn’t work!
Juan DavidFriend of the blog
Most deep sleep occurs in the first half of the night (as opposed to REM sleep, which occurs predominantly in the second half of the night). So anything you can do to help your body fall asleep quicker and to stay asleep during the first couple of hours usually leads to more deep sleep.
As you might know, deep sleep supports physical recovery and the release of critical hormones, such as human growth hormone (HGH).
I’ve noticed that when I get enough restorative sleep (deep and REM sleep), I’m less sore the next morning — even after intense CrossFit workouts.
However, the demands of my physical performance aren’t the only reason why I’m continuously trying to improve my sleep.
Much like most people I know, I have a relatively stressful life that requires me to split my attention between my day job, this blog, family, friends, pets and other hobbies.
The only way for me to stay sane and avoid being overwhelmed is to maintain a lifestyle that properly supports both my body and mind. Good sleep is at the very foundation of that lifestyle.
There’s no other way to say it: BLUblox glasses are more expensive than most other blue light glasses you can find on the market.
Depending on the type of lens and frame, you can spend anywhere from $90 to $240 on a pair.
The good news is that unless you need prescription or magnifying lenses, you’ll “only” spend between $90 to $150. But that’s still more than the cheap glasses you can find on Amazon.
But I think BLUblox are worth their asking price for several reasons.
First of all, BLUblox glasses work by filtering the proper wavelengths of blue and green light. Most other glasses on the market only filter a subset of those frequencies, thus making them much less effective (or not effective at all).
The second reason why BLUblox can demand a higher price tag is because they’re manufactured in Australia under proper optics laboratory conditions, instead of in a mass-production facility in China.
Last but not least, I prefer the high-quality materials BLUblox uses for the frame and optics, instead of the cheap stuff you get out of China. As a result, I expect my glasses to last longer, which increases my return on investment and it decreases the amount of trash I produce.
So the planet and I both win.
If you want to give BLUblox a try, make sure to use code MK15 to get 15% off your purchase.
Other Ways to Block Blue Light
If you want to block artificial blue and green light, wearing the appropriate eyewear is an excellent first step. However, there are other things you can do to reduce your exposure to certain unnatural wavelengths of light.
Below are some of the steps we’ve been implementing at the Kummer household:
- Turn off (or tape over) status LEDs of electronic devices and light switches.
- Use candles instead of lightbulbs after sunset.
- Limit your screen time on digital devices after sunset.
- Turn on Night Shift on your Mac during the day.
- Turn the screen of your iPhone red after sunset (see the FAQ section below for a guide on how to do this).
One of the first things we did in our bedroom is turn off or tape over the status LEDs of all our light switches, phone chargers and other electronic devices.
For our HomeKit-enabled Leviton smart switches, I was able to use the app to turn off the status LEDs. For the dimmer switch that controls the ceiling fan, I had to use tape because Lutron doesn’t offer a setting to turn off the LED. I used the same tape for the wireless charging pad my wife uses to charge her iPhone and Apple Watch overnight.
The next thing I did was to configure my iMac to automatically turn on Night Shift at sunrise. That reduces my exposure to certain unnatural frequencies of blue light during the day.
Additionally, I used an accessibility setting on my iPhone to turn the screen red after sunset. You can learn more about how I did so in the FAQ section below.
The last thing we’re still working on is better leveraging candles instead of artificial sources of light after sunset.
The reason why we haven’t pulled that trigger yet is that most candles are made with unhealthy ingredients that are estrogenic (learn more about what that means here), and pure beeswax candles are relatively expensive. Since we’re new beekeepers and will have plenty of beeswax after our next honey harvest, we figured we could wait until spring.
How Your Skin Absorbs Blue Light
You may wonder why we even bother with reducing our exposure to blue light in our home if we can just wear blue light blocking glasses after sunset.
The reason is that my past experience has shown that our kids aren’t as disciplined about putting on their glasses as we are.
The truth is that I don’t want our kids to be burdened by all the modern lifestyle issues that my wife and I worry about every day. It’s our job to protect them from all of that crap, and I prefer to cultivate an environment that’s conducive to their health rather than put a responsibility on their plate that they’re too young to fully understand.
Additionally, our eyes are not the only way our bodies absorb blue light. Our skin also absorbs it.
The good news is that blue light absorbed by your skin doesn’t negatively impact sleep. However, shining fluorescent blue light (the type common in office buildings) on your skin may increase your risk of skin cancer.
That’s why we’ve been trying to limit our exposure to blue light after sunset, regardless of the use of blue light glasses.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, blue light glasses that block the correct frequencies of (blue and green) light do work by supporting your circadian rhythm. Within two days of wearing the Sleep+ glasses from BLUblox, I’ve noticed that I get very sleepy right before my usual bedtime — comparable to how I feel after taking a low dose of melatonin.
If you’re exposed to a lot of (blue) light frequencies from artificial sources that trigger health issues — such as digital eye strain, headaches or migraines — then wearing computer glasses that filter out some of those offending frequencies can help.
However, don’t wear blue light glasses that block out all the light between 400-550 nm (the melatonin disruption zone) during the day. If you do, you’ll be sending the wrong signal to your body.
You need to expose yourself to the frequencies of light that the sun emits during the day for your body to function optimally.
You can wear computer glasses during the day and orange glasses (that block 100% of the light between 400 nm to 550 nm) after sunset. I use the Rise app* to remind me to put them on at the start of my “melatonin window” — the time during which my body produces the most melatonin.
No, unfortunately neither Dark Mode nor Night Shift blocks enough blue light to make a difference after sunset. However, you can use those features to reduce your exposure to artificial blue light during the day!
To prevent your iOS device from emitting blue and green light you have to use a color filter to turn the screen red (see below).
In iOS, you can turn the screen red by applying a color filter.
To do that, go into Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Color Filters and select Color Tint.
Slide both the Intensity and Hue sliders all the way to the right.
That will turn your screen red and make it safe for use after sunset.
To make it easier to turn on the color filter without having to dig through the settings, you can use the Accessibility Shortcut (triple-click on the side button).
To turn on the shortcut, go to Settings > Accessibility and scroll down to “Accessibility Shortcut” where you can select “Color Filters.”
Once enabled, you can triple-click on the side (power) button to enable or disable the color filter.
I’ve tried to create a Siri Shortcut to turn the screen of my iPhone 12 Pro Max red every night at sunset, but Apple doesn’t support that yet.
For the most accurate results, you’d have to use a spectrometer to determine what light frequencies your glasses let pass through the lens. Alternatively, you can ask the manufacturer of your glasses for a light spectrum report.
If you don’t trust the manufacturer’s claims (or simply want to verify them), you can perform the following tests at home.
For computer glasses, see what color the light is that gets reflected off the lenses. If it’s blue, your glasses are blocking at least some of the correct frequencies. If your glasses come with a “pen tester,” make sure the pen actually emits blue and not purple light.
For (orange) blue light glasses, you can do a color test such as the one offered here. These tests aren’t 100% accurate, but they’re a good starting point that can help you weed out any ineffective glasses.
Melatonin is great for traveling and for helping you to adjust your circadian rhythm. The problem is that it can be habit-forming, and it might make your body stop producing its own melatonin.
The body is a complex piece of machinery that tries to keep everything in perfect balance. So when you use exogenous hormones (be it melatonin, testosterone or others), it reduces the amount of these hormones it makes on its own — or it stops their production entirely.
That’s why I recommend refraining from using melatonin over long periods.
I’m not an optometrist, but based on my understanding, the risk of developing macular degeneration is influenced by heredity and environmental factors, including smoking, obesity and diet. So if this eye disease runs in your family, I’d definitely consider living a healthy lifestyle. You can learn more about what that means in this blog post.
Still, if you already suffer from this disease, reducing your exposure to blue light might help, and I encourage you to talk to your optometrist or ophthalmologist about it.
The primary difference between blue light blocking eye glasses from BLUblox and other brands is the amount of blue light the lenses filter. Many popular brands, including Warby Parker, offer what’s called computer glasses with transparent lenses.
Such glasses can help filter certain blue light frequencies emitted by digital screens to reduce eye strain and other minor issues, but they don’t filter the proper wavelengths to ensure the timely release of melatonin at night.
For that, you need tinted glasses, such as the ones BLUblox offers as part of their Sleep+ product line.
The blue light blocking glasses I have still allow some light to reach my eyes, especially if I look up, down or to the side.
So the question is whether this peripheral light can impact the release of melatonin.
The short answer is “no,” peripheral light isn’t a big concern.
Here is why:
The intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) — also called photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (pRGC), or melanopsin-containing retinal ganglion cells (mRGCs) — are located in the inner retina and function in such a way that the extremely minor light that may peek through the sides or the top of the frame is not enough for the pupillary light reflex (PLR) to phototransduct to any large degree, because the iris is open to a wider diameter due to the lens themselves already putting a dynamic reduction in light volume.
In plain English, that just means it’s a matter of light angle.
Possibly. However, the wavelengths that glasses like BLUblox target do not bounce off the face to the inner surface of the lens and then into the eye.
If you play games during the day, you can wear computer glasses. If you play after sunset, yellow lenses are probably your best option because orange lenses are too dark to play video games.
Yes, e-ink readers, such as the Amazon Kindle, also emit blue light. Specifically, the backlight of their display is a source of melatonin disrupting blue light.
Wrap-Up: Why You Should Consider Wearing Blue Light Glasses
Blue light blocking glasses solve a man-made problem that we shouldn’t have to worry about.
But unless you’re willing to live a truly Paleolithic lifestyle that excludes the use of artificial sources of light, you’ll have to deal with managing your exposure to certain light frequencies after sunset.
That is, if you want to give yourself the best chances of sleeping well.
As a result, I consider blue light glasses a valuable tool in my toolkit to help me to optimize my health and well-being.
My wife asked me the other day if I’ll be wearing these glasses for the rest of my life, and I didn’t have a good answer. As of right now, my goal is to reduce our overall exposure to blue light after sunset as much as possible by disabling and taping off status LEDs and by leveraging candles instead of artificial sources of light.
Additionally, I’m planning on combining those steps with wearing blue light glasses while watching TV or when I’m traveling (and thus have less control over the environment). I’ve also seen light bulbs that block blue light, but I don’t know that I can convince my wife to make our bedroom look like a brothel.
As with everything else, I recommend taking small steps to tackle the lowest-hanging fruits first. Don’t stress out over every detail in an attempt to make it perfect. That creates unnecessary anxiety that’s just as unhealthy as your exposure to blue light.
Blue light glasses are a relatively low-hanging fruit as far as I’m concerned. So give them a try before considering other lifestyle choices that your partner might not appreciate.
If you’ve tried blue light glasses (or any of the other methods outlined in this post), let me know what improvements to your sleep quality you’ve noticed by leaving a comment below!