If you’re anything like me, you spend the majority of your day staring at a screen. In fact, with each passing year, the average amount of time a person spends staring at a device increases.
The average American stares at a mobile device for more than 3 hours and 35 minutes per day – that’s not including other computer use and television time! According to the American Optometric Association, the average American worker spends roughly 7 hours a day on the computer! The problem may be even worse in China, where children need glasses at such a high rate that the president has declared myopia a public health crisis and vowed to reduce children’s screen time.
Digital Eye Strain
Excessive screen time affects our vision as well as our sleep. Computer Vision Syndrome (also called Digital Eye Strain) is rampant all over the world, and can also cause headaches, blurred vision, dry and red eyes, as well as posture issues leading to neck and shoulder pain.
It this sounds familiar and you don’t have the luxury of reducing your screen time, there are plenty of tips for reducing these symptoms including optimizing the location of your computer screen (which should be 4 or 5 inches below eye level and positioned to avoid glare from overhead lighting or windows), using a screen glare filter to reduce reflection, adjusting chair height to make sure your feet are flat on the floor, taking eye rest breaks (the 20-20-20 rule is the standard in which every 20 minutes you focus on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds), and making efforts to blink frequently to keep your eyes moist.
Can blue-blocking glasses help?
In the last decade, the eyewear industry has caught on to the health effects of screen time. Dozens of companies now offer special glasses that can help filter the blue light that promotes wakefulness and leads to eye strain.
But some experts say that blue light is not the problem. According to The Strategist, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology claims that digital eye strain is caused by the lack of eye breaks more than blue light and doesn’t specifically recommend any special eyewear for daily computer use.
However, there’s both scientific and anecdotal evidence showing that blue-blocking glasses can be especially useful at night (though there have also been studies that show they have no effect).
Whether different people’s eyes respond to different interventions or blue-blocking glasses provide a useful placebo effect to wearers, there are still plenty of people who swear by these glasses to help ease eye strain, myself included.
Trying out a pair of these glasses is a personal choice, but if you decide to go for it, here are some models you can try out. (I’ve intentionally left out glasses with colored lenses because I’ve never tried them and can’t imagine wearing them when I’m using my devices in public – but you can find some highly-rated models here.)
Cyxus makes some stylish glasses at low prices for those who want to give a pair a try without investing too much money. They’re easily available on Amazon as well as the Cyxus website.
For me, the best part about these glasses is that they come in a variety of stylish frames that allow you to wear them all day. They come in just about every shape and color and have clear lenses that make them look like regular glasses.
Each pair runs around $20 so you can keep a few pairs around the house or at work.
Cyxus uses a special polymer called HEV-Absorb in their lenses that won’t run off or chip away over time. They also come with a UV420 protection coating and reduce not only the amount of blue light that hits your eyes but also artificial fluorescent and LED lighting.
While they might not be the best bet for gamers who need serious yellow-tinted protection, they’re my top pick for all-day wear. After just a few days of use, I noticed my sleep patterns improving and my eyes feeling less heavy after spending time on the computer.
Eye Buy Direct
Eye Buy Direct is the next best bet for cheap computer glasses that keep your eyes from feeling like you’ve battered them with a floodlight all day. They carry a wide range of stylish glasses that are perfect for all-day use. Personally, I find them to distort my vision just a little and feel some relief when I take them off, but I can’t deny that these have improved my sleep, eye redness, and headaches.
EyeBuyDirect sells two types of computer glasses – EBDBlue and SightRelax. Both are scratch-resistant, have anti-glare coatings, filter blue light filters, and provide UV protection.
The frames themselves can be incredibly inexpensive (sometimes starting at $7), but once you add the computer lenses, they generally cost between $25-$50.
Unfortunately, like Cyxus, there are no brick-and-mortar stores where you can try them on, so you may have to order a few pairs before you get the right fit. Eye Buy Direct doesn’t have the best customer service when it comes to returns (they often hassle you to try other pairs before they give you a mailing label for a refund), but once you insist you don’t want them they will take them back for free (unless you’ve had them fitted with a prescription as well).
PROSPEK glasses are the blue-light-blocking glasses made by the Spektrum eyewear company. Their PROSPEK-50 model has clear lenses mostly clear lenses and a fair variety of frames. While the iridescent glare on these is pretty significant and the frames tend to be a bit more clunky, they absolutely do the job.
These glasses are a bit more expensive than the previous two brands, averaging $40-50, but the shipping is free. Again, there’s no way to try them on in person first and they tend to be on the large side, but they are fully refundable if you’re not happy with them within a 90-day period. I’ve never tried returning a pair, so I can’t speak to how easy it is, but I can only imagine it’s less of a hassle than exchanging multiple e-mails with Eye Buy Direct. They are also available on Amazon, which allows for much easier returns.
These glasses are worth a try if you find a pair of frames you really like and don’t mind shelling out an extra $10-20.
No list is complete without the holy grail of computer glasses. Felix Grays will run you upwards of $95 ($145 if you want your prescription included) but are particularly good for giving you clear and unaltered visions while staring at your screen.
I’ll be honest, I’ve only ever borrowed a pair for a day since there are so many cheaper alternatives and they are sold exclusively online so I can’t see if I like them before taking the plunge (although they do offer free returns).
Both the frames and the lenses do seem more substantial but I’m not sure that justifies the price for me when there are much cheaper alternatives.
My main concern is that their frames are unisex and that generally makes them too wide for my face. It’s not that I don’t like the hipster sexy librarian look, but some more options would make me less apprehensive (although they do give frame measurements on their site).
At the end of the day, it’s worth investing just a bit of money in a starter pair of blue-blocking glasses. Wear them for a week and see if they make a difference in your ability to focus your vision as well as any headaches you might get or sleep issues you might have.
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