I Tried Blue-Light-Blocking Glasses for Screen Fatigue — Here Are My Honest Reviews
Spending more time in front of screens lately? We tried blue-light-filtering glasses to see if they really work and are worth the hype.
Now more than ever, I find myself gazing at my computer for long periods of time and experiencing screen fatigue. Even before my company started working from home due to the pandemic, though, the harsh light from my computer irritated my eyes. I would experience headaches and light-headedness, and sometimes, I’d even feel motion sick during a long day at work sitting at my desk. I tried multiple remedies — setting my computer on “night mode,” going for short walks and focusing my eyes on a spot past my monitor throughout the day, but those didn’t totally seem to do the trick. My screen fatigue led me to consider blue-light-filtering glasses, a trending product that claims to reduce eye strain, sleep disruption and headaches by blocking the blue light emitted by screens.
While overexposure to blue light and UV light from the sun can raise the risk of eye disease, there isn’t conclusive evidence that the small amount of blue light from screens contributes to permanent eye damage, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Staring at screens can cause temporary discomfort, though, such as dry eyes, blurry vision, watery eyes and/or headaches. The AAO says this digital eye strain is caused by the way we use our screens, not necessarily the blue light itself — for example, when we focus on screens for a long time, we blink about half as often than when we’re not looking at a screen. The AAO suggests reducing screen time before bed, doing the 20-20-20 exercise, sitting 25 inches from screens and adjusting the display brightness as a few free ways to minimize these screen effects on the eyes.
Despite the mixed messages on the touted benefits, I decided to give a few different pairs of blue-light-filtering glasses a try to see what all the positive product reviews were about, if for nothing else but the potential for temporary relief and added comfort; there’s certainly no harm in trying these popular glasses.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well each of the three pairs of glasses I tried fit. Sometimes, I’d forget they were even on my head. These glasses have withstood a beating inside my work bag from getting jostled around in transit. Not only have they held up very well, but even after endless opening and closing when wearing and removing, the screws and hinges seem as good as new, a rarity with cheaper glasses. When viewing a screen through these lenses, there is no discernible difference in lighting or color, other than a small bit of glare which quickly becomes an afterthought. If you don’t need a prescription, the lenses will not contain any magnification. When you first put a pair on, they might feel pointless, but the results are felt after a sustained session on your computer. I was impressed that all three of the models I tried did help increase my overall comfort and productivity in front of my screens.
If you’re spending more time Zooming, emailing or bingeing HGTV and have been thinking about trying blue-light-filtering glasses, one of these pairs might just be what you need, too.
My first pair of blue-light-blocking glasses I tried is also the cheapest. I wore these for months and for a cheap fix, my eyes and head both felt less exhausted at the end of the workday. The build of the frame is surprisingly sturdy for something this inexpensive, but the cheaper quality is evident in other areas: the lenses smudge easily, something I noticed in the next pair as well. My best comparison to the fit of these would be a cross between a sporty pair of cheap sunglasses and science classroom goggles, two items that are not known to be tailor-made for one’s face, yet they’re comfortable enough to put up with for shorter spurts of time.
My colleague Molly Miller recommends this pair as another great budget buy that are stylish and surprisingly sturdy. She says, "I bought these on Prime Day because I was having trouble falling asleep at night and thought too much exposure to blue light could be the cause. My sleep patterns vary so I can’t say for sure that wearing these glasses helped, but I definitely like that they tone down the brightness of my TV. Wearing them sort of feels like when you close a sheer shade over a really bright window – the light still comes through, but it’s not so bright that you have to squint. I feel like the glasses are just a relief for my eyes, giving them a break from harsh light. The glasses are really sturdy, too. Every time my two-year-old tries them on, I cringe watching him stretch and pull them, but the glasses don’t break!"
I spent several weeks with this pair from Anrri. A few of my colleagues also tried out this brand, and we all came away impressed. They are definitely my favorite pair since they’re comfortable and lightweight, perfect for use over an entire day of work. I love the sleek matte-black finish of the pair I tried, and my colleague Molly also tried this pair in the tortoise finish. This pair comes in clear and pink-tinted clear styles as well. "After using these Anrri blue-light-blocking glasses for a couple of months, I noticed on days that I didn’t wear them that my computer screen seemed much brighter and harsher," Molly says. "Putting on the glasses…is oddly calming." I couldn’t agree more. For added value, this pair comes with a nice hard case and lens cloth.
These glasses relieved my eye strain just as the previous glasses did, but at more than triple the price of the other models, Felix Gray glasses are a true investment. Felix Gray could be called the Warby Parker of blue-light-blocking glasses since they offer a wide variety of stylish frames in many shapes and sizes with trendy product names. You do have the option to order prescription lenses for Felix Gray frames, which adds to the cost, of course. I really like the green Artichoke color of the Nash pair I tried, and I have received quite a few compliments on them. I should note that the lenses are less prone to smudging than the other two models I tested, which I did appreciate, and this pair is comfortable to wear. Like the Anrri pair, they do come with a nice, hard case. Aside from a more premium construction and thicker lenses, the $95 price point is pretty steep, and this probably isn’t the best pair for those new to blue-light-filtering glasses; I’d recommend this pair for someone who needs prescription lenses and/or highly values aesthetics.
If you experience discomfort from too much screen time, I recommend giving blue-light-blocking glasses a try for yourself, especially a budget-friendly pair. As my colleague and HGTV.com editor Laura James realized in her experience, if nothing else, keeping the glasses on hand at your workstation will serve as a visual reminder (pun intended!) to practice the 20-20-20 exercise and give your eyes breaks throughout the day.
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