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Decoding the Science: How To Test Blue Light Glasses

Almost everyone spends a significant amount of time in front of a screen, whether it's a phone, computer, or tablet. It’s built into people’s lifestyles to be on these devices. While technology has transformed how you communicate, work, and entertain yourself, it also exposes you to a lot of blue light.

But what is blue light, and why should you care? Overexposure to blue light can have many potential side effects. Thankfully, blue light glasses are designed to filter out harmful wavelengths and alleviate some of the possible risks associated with digital screen use.

We'll explore the science behind blue light glasses and the various methods for testing their effectiveness. You'll discover how they work, what can happen when overexposed, and where to get the best glasses.

What Is Blue Light?

Blue light is a high-energy (HEV), short-wavelength light on the visible spectrum. The sun is the most significant source of this light, but various artificial light sources also emit blue light. It is the shortest and most energetic wavelength, producing a higher amount of energy. Blue light is used in everything from digital screens to fluorescent bulbs.

There are differences between natural light sources and artificial sources. For example, daylight and LEDs have different wavelengths. Sunlight combines wavelengths, including infrared, red, yellow, orange, and UV, which is the full light spectrum. The amounts of these wavelengths change throughout the day.

In the morning, there’s more red and infrared light, and less blue light. By midday, blue light and UV spikes are present, so people can quickly sunburn at this time.

When the sun begins to set, the amount of red and infrared light goes up again. The changing wavelengths, including blue light, help regulate your circadian rhythm, which affects your sleep quality and overall health.

What Are Blue Light Glasses?

Blue light glasses are here to save the day if you're worried after reading the above. The coating on the lenses of these glasses may help block out some or most of the blue light wavelengths.

The special coating isn't on regular glasses. It absorbs the blue light and reflects a significant portion of the high-energy light away from your eyes. The glasses still allow other wavelengths to pass through but limit the blue light from reaching your retinas so you don't experience things like poor sleep and digital eye strain.

What Are the Potential Benefits of Wearing Blue Light Glasses?

Wearing blue light glasses can have a range of potential benefits for your overall wellness, such as:

  1. Reduced Eye Strain: One of the main benefits of wearing blue light glasses is reducing eye strain. When you have to spend significant time looking at a screen, throw on your blue light glasses to help minimize discomfort.

  2. Support for Sleep Quality: If you spend your nights scrolling or watching TV (who doesn't?), you may feel the effects of messing with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. By wearing blue light glasses, especially before bedtime, you can help yourself achieve better sleep quality.

  3. Visual Comfort: Blue light glasses can make your eyes comfortable during screen-based activities. Without the same level of glare and better contrast, your eyes can relax, improving visual clarity and stopping excessive squinting or straining.

  4. Support for Eye Health: There may be many potential long-term effects from prolonged blue light exposure from digital devices. Wearing blue light glasses and utilizing screen filters can give you an added layer of protection, lowering the risk of retinal damage and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

  5. Increased Productivity: Nothing can bring a work day to a screeching halt like a nasty headache. When you minimize the symptoms of digital eye strain, you avoid painful side effects, and you can get more done in a day.

What Are the Main Types of Blue Light Glasses?

When looking for blue light glasses, you may notice various lens tints. These tints are associated with different performance, clarity, and wear times. Here is a guide for each lens option.

Clear Lenses

Clear blue light lenses are typically made for protecting your eyes when using digital devices. They block out rays at the start of the blue light spectrum and are intended to prevent eye strain.

Yellow Lenses

Do you ever feel eye strain when driving at night? You may be experiencing it from all the lights.

Yellow lenses are made for nighttime driving. The yellow tint can filter out more of the highest-energy blue light. However, they are still clear enough for you to be able to tell the color of traffic lights.

Yellow-tinted glasses have become more popular because so many cars use LED lights. These lenses typically block 60% to 70% of blue light.

Orange Lenses

Orange-tinted glasses are meant to be worn before bed. They filter out the melatonin-disturbing light that can keep you from a restful slumber. Orange lenses are slightly darker than yellow lenses, which means you shouldn't wear them when driving. High-quality orange lenses can block over 99% of blue light as well as a significant amount of green light.

Red Lenses

Red lenses are also advertised for better sleep. However, they are dark lenses and can be hard to see through — it's basically like wearing sunglasses inside. You may experience eye strain from your eyes just trying to make out your surroundings, which defeats the point… and red lenses filter out the same amount of blue light as orange lenses, anyway.

If you have high-quality blue light glasses, you don’t need to worry about these different lens types. Pair Eyewear's blue light glasses have a blue reflection and block 90% of blue light.

How Does Blue Light Impact Sleep?

Your eyes can't effectively filter blue light like they can other forms of light. Blue light can pass through your eye to the retina, which is how problems occur. Spending a lot of time near screens emitting blue light can impact your sleep.

The exposure to various wavelengths controls your sleep-and-wake cycle. Blue light can suppress melatonin production, which helps regulate your circadian rhythm. Therefore, too much blue light can mean you’re counting sheep at night instead of dreaming. You may develop insomnia, fatigue, and feel rundown overall.

To avoid sleep problems, be mindful of your blue light exposure around bedtime. Try avoiding screens 30-60 minutes before bed. You can also turn down your phone's brightness or put it in night mode. Instead of scrolling, try reading to unwind before going to bed.

Digital Eye Strain From Blue Light Exposure

All that time you spend looking at screens may be causing digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome (CVS). This condition can affect anyone who looks at screens for hours a day.

When you're constantly looking at your computer and not giving your eyes breaks, you may feel discomfort. Your eyes may feel dry, and you may experience blurred vision or headaches.

Your blink rate decreases when you focus on a screen, which is why you might develop dry eyes. Digital eye strain may also make you more sensitive to light.

How close you are to the screen can also contribute to digital eye strain. Try keeping your computer at arm's length. This distance means no hunching over and getting close.

Hey, why not fix your posture while you're at it, right? If you struggle to read the screen from this distance, make the font larger in your settings.

If you fail to make corrections, any pre-existing vision problems, such as hypermetropia or astigmatism, could worsen. Blue light exposure also has the potential for long-term side effects, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in adults over 60.

How To Relieve Digital Eye

There are several methods people can implement to alleviate digital eye strain and reduce their exposure to blue light.

  1. Take Breaks: The 20-20-20 rule is a great tool to follow. The rule instructs you to take a 20-second break every 20 minutes by looking at something 20 feet away. By looking away from your computer, you give your eyes a break and reduce digital eye strain.

  2. Use Blue Light Glasses: Blue light glasses are made to filter out blue light wavelengths coming from digital screens. We will discuss them in more detail later, but they can reduce eye strain and discomfort.

  3. Adjust Your Screen Settings: Turn your screen brightness down and adjust your contrast settings. This simple step can alleviate a lot of stress in your eyes. Your device may even have a blue light reduction feature.

  4. Improve Ergonomics: Position your computer or other digital device at eye level. This position will reduce strain on your eyes and neck. You can also apply an anti-glare screen filter to minimize reflections and glare from overhead lighting or windows.

Following these steps can significantly help you avoid digital eye strain and the harmful effects that come with it.

​Where To Buy Blue Light Glasses

Before you can start testing, you need a pair of blue light glasses. Pair Eyewear is one of the best places to get these protective glasses. We have numerous options, so you're sure to find a pair that feels unique to you.

Plus, there are hundreds of Top Frames you can snap onto your Base Frames to switch up your look. All of Pair's frames come in black, blue clear, pink clear, crystal clear, blue tortoise, and tortoise. However, the Top Frames come in more color and design options. The best part is you can try on various frames in the comfort of your own home using our virtual try-on feature.

Here are some blue light glasses options to consider:

  • The Larkin: These frames are one of our best-sellers. They are narrow, modified rectangle frames that look good on almost any face shape, especially oval or round faces.
  • The Reese: These are incredibly flattering, narrow, modified round frames ideal for oval, square, or diamond face shapes.
  • The Harper: These are a wide cat-eye frame for those who love a retro-chic look. The cat-eye shape is subtle and flatters many face shapes, such as heart, diamond, round, oval, or triangle.
  • The Kirby: This is another fan-favorite option. It is a medium rectangle frame that will always stay in style.
  • The Murphy: These wide square frames are oversized and stylish. They look good on oval, heart, oblong, or triangle faces, although any face shape can wear them.

How Can You Find Effective Blue Light Glasses?

Not all blue light glasses have the same ability to block out blue light. Some blue light glasses aren't blocking much, if any, of the harmful wavelengths. So, how can you be sure your blue light glasses are getting the job done? It's time to review tests you can do with your glasses to ensure their effectiveness, starting with the blue light spectrum report data.

Some brands provide a spectrum report that shows their filtering test data. However, it doesn't necessarily mean the glasses don't work if you can't find the data. Price is another tell-tale sign.

High-quality glasses filter out at least 30% of all blue light and have an anti-reflective coating. These glasses can be costly to make, so if you see computer glasses for $10-$30, they probably don't work very well.

Pair Eyewear's blue light glasses block 90% of blue light. Thus, you can spend your whole day working on your laptop and feel zero digital eye strain.

The Spectrophotometer Test

If you want to get really scientific, you can try the spectrophotometer test. A spectrophotometer measures the intensity of light in different parts of the spectrum. It's the most accurate way to determine whether your glasses block blue light.

It works by shining a light through the glasses. You use the spectrophotometer to measure the light on the opposite side of the lens. The transmittance spectrum report the device creates will show whether the blue light wavelengths have been filtered. These results will show the smallest nanometer of blocked wavelengths and their intensity. You'll get a specific percentage, such as the blue light has been filtered 50%.

While it's a great test, it's not realistic for many people. A lab-grade spectrophotometer costs between $1000 and $10,000. If you don't already have one or access to one, you probably won't be making the splurge to test blue light glasses. Thankfully, there are much less expensive ways to test your glasses.

The Reflection Test

The reflection test costs nothing. It's not a fool-proof method, but it will give you an idea if your glasses are at least somewhat effective. Start by tilting your glasses towards a light source.

You should notice a blue reflection on the surface of your lenses. If you see a blue reflection, your glasses offer some protection and aren't completely fake. However, you can't tell what percentage of blue light they're blocking out.

If you tilt your glasses towards the light and see a purple or green reflection, your glasses may only have an anti-glare filter and not a blue light filter. If you don't see any reflection at all, your glasses either don't filter blue light or don't have an anti-glare coating.

The RGB Color Wheel Test

The RGB color wheel is red, green, and blue. These primary colors represent the three light sources your computer and television use to produce colors.

Blue light glasses that block 100% of these wavelengths will not allow you to see blue light, even if it's a bold flashing blue light, like a police car. However, you may still see the flashing blue light with glasses that only block 10-15%.

The RGB Color Wheel Test can help you determine how well your glasses are filtering out blue and green light.

  1. Put your blue light glasses on.

  2. Look at an RGB chart.

  3. The blue section should look black.

  4. If your glasses work, the blue circle should appear dark gray, and the cyan color will blend with the green circle. If the green portion appears faded, your glasses also block green light, which can disrupt your melatonin levels.

The Blue Sky Test

Why not use the largest source of blue light in your test? The blue sky test requires a clear day without any cloud coverage. Go outside and hold your glasses toward the sky. You don't need to point them directly at the sun. Let's not go blind doing a blue light test.

When you're wearing the glasses, they should look clear, but when you hold them up to sunlight, you should see a yellow tint. A yellow tint will block around 30% of blue light. This light filtered is a blue-violet light at the start of the blue light spectrum.

If you can't see any tint, your glasses may not be filtering blue light.

Black and Blue Circle Test

This test is similar to the RGB test. It involves putting on blue light glasses and looking at different colors. This time, you'll only look at an image of a blue circle inside a black circle.

  1. Put on your blue light glasses.

  2. Look at the blue and black image.

  3. See if the blue circle in the center appears dark gray.

If the circle still appears blue, your glasses are not filtering out blue light.

Skip the Blue Light Pen Test

We've discussed many different tests you can try, but there's one you should skip.

The blue light pen is typically sold with blue light glasses. However, these glasses are low-quality lenses that don't filter blue light. When you get the pair, you're supposed to shine the blue light pen through the glasses behind a white background. The pen's light will be filtered, and you won't see a reflection behind the lens.

You may be thinking, "Great. My glasses are filtering blue light." However, these pens are a marketing gimmick. They are only emitting violet light, not blue light. Violet wavelengths can not cause the same harmful effects as blue light. Filtering out violet rays is not going to protect your eyes.

Goodbye Blue Light

Blue light glasses can be a valuable tool for protecting your eyes. They filter out harmful wavelengths that can cause eye strain and affect sleep. It's important to know that your glasses are doing their intended job. Otherwise, what's the point? You can do many tests at home to ensure your glasses are blocking blue light. Pair Eyewear has some of the best blue light-blocking lenses and stylish frames.

Sources:

Blue in the Face: The Effects of Blue Light on Sleep | Society of Behavioral Medicine

What is Macular Degeneration? | American Macular Degeneration Foundation

Protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV light | National Eye Institute