A good pair of sunglasses is essential for healthy, happy eyes. But recently, a new eyewear essential has been all over the news: blue light glasses! But what are they… and why should you invest in a pair? Simply put, the devices we use (phones, TVs, computers, you name it) emit blue light which can damage our eyes, keep us up at night, and lower our sleep quality. Read on to learn how, and why, to use blue light glasses!
What you’ll learn:
- What blue light is, and why it can be harmful
- How blue light glasses work to reduce the impact of blue light
- Where to find ethically made blue light glasses that work for your lifestyle
What is blue light?
“It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” I’m sure we’ve all heard this saying at one point or another in our lives. It comes from Ancient Rome, because their only wrestling match rule was not to harm their opponents eyes. Simply put: we’ve known for a long time that our eyes are extremely important. Our eyes are made up of over 2 million working parts, and eye muscles are the most active muscles in our body. And I mean c’mon… we need them to see – which is pretty important! So when it comes to protecting our eyes, it’s essential that we do everything we can, from not looking directly into the sun (duh) to polarized protective sunglasses.
By now, we probably all know what sunlight can do to our eyes, but what is this new thing called “blue light” and why do we need protection from it? Where does blue light even come from? Great questions! The sun, which is the source of all natural light, is a large source of blue light. But… the blue light from the sun is natural, and helps to regulate our sleep and waking patterns so we can get through the day. In fact, blue wavelengths during the day can be a positive thing when in the correct doses, as it boosts attention, reaction times, and mood.
However, blue light (aka blue wavelengths) is becoming a more prominent issue nowadays because it can also be man-made and come from artificial sources. These sources include fluorescent and LED lights, flat screen TV’s, electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops, tablets and other digital devices. So basically… things that we look at on a daily basis in order to work, relax, or entertain ourselves. For many people, this means hours a day of extra exposure to artificial blue light – with hours at nighttime or after sundown being the most damaging.
You know that feeling after you’ve been watching TV, working on your computer, or staring at your phone for hours? That feeling like your eyes are tired, irritated, and it’s hard to focus your vision on anything? Those are just a few of the impacts of blue light! Or perhaps you have a headache or pain in your back, neck, or shoulders after spending long amounts of time on your iPad or writing emails for work? Those are all symptoms of digital eye strain, which can come from too much exposure to blue light. And the impacts of this go far beyond simple headaches.
Artificial blue light, over time and constant exposure, can damage our retinas, leading to permanent vision loss. Too much exposure to artificial blue light, or exposure during night time, can also suppress production of our sleep hormone, melatonin. This can lead to sleepless nights, or trouble waking up in the morning, which nobody enjoys. Harvard researchers have found that light at night is part of the reason people don’t get enough sleep, and researchers have linked shorter sleep to increased risk of depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular issues. Recent studies are even looking into the fact that blue light might be causing premature aging and wrinkles. Apple products and other technologies (like Twitter!) have started enacting “night mode” or “dark mode” which aims to make the coloring on your screen “warmer” or overall darker in the evenings… but even so, the screen is still producing blue light that impacts our eyes and brains even if it appears more yellow.
What can I do about blue light?
Unfortunately, unless you live in a remote area, away from streetlights, screens, and LED lighting, you probably are exposed to blue light every day. As much as I’m sure we’d all love to toss our devices, work by candlelight, and live off the grid… our world is simply built around blue light right now. But… there are solutions! Check out some of our favorites below.
- Instead of classic night lights, use dim red light bulbs at night time. Red light has the least amount of power to shift your sleep cycle (or circadian rhythm) and won’t suppress melatonin production as much as blue light will!
- Avoid looking at bright screens roughly 2 – 3 hours before bed (although it is tempting!)
- Shift your devices to “night” shift mode, which dims the colors and increases the warmth at night time. This can usually be done in the settings of your device, or on certain apps!
- And finally, our favorite option – blue light glasses! Blue light glasses are an amazing way to reduce the amount of blue wavelength your eyes are exposed to, especially if you spent a lot of time in front of screens.
Where can I find blue light glasses?
Now that we know all about what blue light is, and why it has become a modern menace, let’s get into our favorite solution: blue light glasses. These are an easy solution to the eye retina damage that occurs over time with blue light exposure, and protect your peepers from the screens we rely on. Basically, blue light glasses like ours from Parafina have filters in them that either block, or absorb, blue wavelengths to keep you from feeling both the long and short term effects of blue light on the body. They can cut up to about 90% of blue light from screens, and come in a variety of fun and funky shapes that mimic classic eyeglasses. Simply pop them on while using your devices, and feel good knowing your eyes are safe!
Beyond their blue light glasses, there is probably a million other reasons to love Parafina! Parafina offers designer eyewear, including blue light glasses but also sunglasses and eyeglasses, at an affordable price, while being eco and socially conscious. Their eco-friendly eyewear is made from 100% recycled materials such as tires, cork, plastic, and aluminum – and other ethical materials like silicone. In 2018 alone, they recycled 201 aluminum cans and 434 PET bottles for their glasses, and saved 1,200 tons of CO2 emissions! Plus, they give back to communities in need – donating 5% of every single purchase to their social project, #LlévaleAlCole, in Paraguay. #LlévaleAlCole (roughly translated to “take them to school”) is Parafina’s scholarship program which ensures that all children – regardless of their environment, gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status have access to a stable and quality education in Paraguay.
Simply put: investing in a pair of blue light glasses if you’re near screens is just as important as sunglasses when you’re exposed to the sun, or reading glasses if you need help with your vision. Believe it or not, it may be causing poor sleep quality, or worse, macular damage to the eyes that over time, will only get worse.
Plus, if you ask us, the blue light options from Parafina are pretty stinkin’ cool looking… and are made from materials that are ethical for the planet, while donating back to the people on it. Win, win, win. Check out all of our Parafina blue light glasses here, or shop all of Parafina’s ethical eyewear here. Your eyeballs will thank you.
This blog was originally published on September 24, 2019 and was most recently updated on October 27, 2022.