- Do You Need Computer Glasses?
- Computer Vision Syndrome
- What is blue light?
- How are we exposed to blue or HEV light?
- Should we be concerned about blue light exposure?
- Sleep Disruption
- How does blue light cause eye strain?
- PROSPEK Blue Light Blocking Glasses
- PROSPEK-50 Blue Light Glasses
- PROSPEK-99 Blue Light Glasses
- Click an image to shop products
- Blue Light Glasses: Can They Protect Your Vision?
- What Are Blue Light Glasses?
- What Does Science Say About Blue Light?
- Pricing and Comparison to Regular Glasses
- Are These Glasses Scams?
- Blue Light Glasses – Helpful or Just Hype?
- Why you might need computer glasses
- How computer glasses work
- What about blue light?
- Are computer glasses effective?
- First: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
- If you experience eye strain, they might be worth it
- Why computer glasses may seem a hoax
- So, should you buy them?
- Computer Glasses – What to Know Before You Buy
- Why computer glasses?
- Lens designs for computer eyewear
- Lens coatings and tints
- Where to buy computer glasses
Do You Need Computer Glasses?
If your eyes feel irritated and dry after a long workday in front of the computer, a pair of computer glasses might help.
Every modern workplace is full of computers and digital devices. Case in point, you’re reading this article on a phone or a computer right now. At work or even at home most of us could not live without our devices but they also cause us a lot of stress as well.
Who hasn’t dreamed of chucking their computer out in the street when you lose an important document or the screen freezes in the middle of an important video call? But that kind of stress isn’t what we’re talking about.
Did you know devices can cause stress to our eyes as well?
Computer Vision Syndrome
If we notice that our eyes become strained and irritated during the day, it can be from something called computer vision syndrome.
It is a temporary vision condition caused by staring at a computer screen for long periods of time without proper glasses for computer use.
Common symptoms associated with this condition blurred vision, red or dry eyes, double vision, dizziness, and headaches. It is caused primarily from staring at the glow that emanates from a screen and something called blue light.
A lot of us wear glasses to correct vision problems. But regular eyeglasses are not the same as computer glasses. Computer reading glasses are specially made to help reduce eye strain.
They have an anti-reflective coating to help reduce glare and a tint that helps increase contrast for easier viewing.
For those of us who already wear glasses, prescription computer glasses are also available.
Common symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome are blurred vision, red or dry eyes, double vision, dizziness, and headaches.
What is blue light?
What we see – the visible spectrum of light – consists of a range of colors, from blue-violet on the lower end to red on the higher end. Light on the lowest end of the visible spectrum has the shortest wavelengths; light on the highest end has the longest wavelengths. Since shorter wavelengths emit more energy, blue light is also known as High Energy Visible (HEV) light.
How are we exposed to blue or HEV light?
That glorious bright sunny day that most of us love is the primary culprit in blue light exposure.
But even those who would rather stay indoors are not immune because we're also exposed to “unnatural” blue light from our smartphones, TVs, computer screens, and artificial lighting.
Although our digital devices emit only a fraction of the HEV light emitted from the sun, the number of hours we spend using our devices can have both an immediate and a cumulative effect on our eyes.
Should we be concerned about blue light exposure?
The short answer is yes. Blue light is a bit salt, our bodies need it but eat too much and it can cause high blood pressure. While exposure to blue light does have some positive benefits, our modern digital world has overexposed us to it.
Blue light regulates our circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep/wake cycle. Basically, it’s how our bodies know when to go to sleep and when to wake up.
Blue light from the sun is responsible for increased energy and wakefulness but our habit of checking our emails before bed or falling asleep in front of the TV can disrupt our natural sleep patterns by unnaturally exposing us to blue light at night.
Here’s a fun fact you can throw out at parties and impress your friends. Blue light suppresses the body’s secretion of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. Though blue light is present in the sun’s rays during the day, it is less pronounced around dusk.
The lack of blue light in the evening allows the body to produce melatonin freely, signaling that it is time to prepare for sleep.
Exposure to blue light from electronic devices or artificial lighting after the sun has gone down can disrupt our circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep or get a good night’s rest.
How does blue light cause eye strain?
Our eyes were not evolved for our modern digital world. The eye's cornea and lens aren't good at filtering HEV light from reaching our retina, the thin layer of light-receiving tissue that lines the back of the eye.
Over time, this can cause damage to its light-sensitive cells. As we age, it gets worse and can make us more susceptible to eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Young children are even more sensitive to blue light exposure since the lens of their eyes are even more transparent than adults, allowing more HEV light to pass through.
PROSPEK Blue Light Blocking Glasses
PROSPEK computer glasses use a patented, multi-layer coating design to reduce glare, reflect blue light away from the lens and relieve long-term eye strain caused by excessive electronic device use.
This specialized coating provides:
- Reduced glare
- Reduction of blue light
Whether you are looking for computer glasses for the office or a late night Netflix binge, PROSPEK glasses will give you premium protection for your eyes.
PROSPEK blue light glasses come in two types of lenses – 50% blue light blocking or 99% blue light blocking. It's a matter of preference, but here are some guidelines:
PROSPEK-50 Blue Light Glasses
- Ideal for mid-day use when blue light has less of an effect
- Lenses have a very subtle yellow tint to look stylish and more regular glasses
- Allows more of the visible light spectrum so that colors look more natural
- Blocks 50% of blue light (the harmful blue light range)
- Excellent for everyday use as computer glasses
- PROSPEK-50 is also available in a prescription glasses option
PROSPEK-99 Blue Light Glasses
- Ideal for late night use when blue light has a detrimental effect on our sleep
- Ideal for people that are very sensitive to blue light
- Yellow tinted lenses that block 99% of all blue light emitted by your devices
- Maximum blue blocker protection
Read also: The best computer reading glasses according to Chicago Tribune
Click an image to shop products
Blue Light Glasses: Can They Protect Your Vision?
Blue light glasses are designed to block blue light rays. They are generally marketed as computer glasses, to block the blue light commonly exuded by computers and other electronic screens. While many claims are made about these glasses, not all of them are true. (Learn More)
While these glasses block blue light, the claim that blue light causes permanent eye damage is false. The light that does cause such damage, UV light, is not given off by screens.
There is little evidence that blue light glasses help with eye strain, which is the most common marketing claim associated with them. There is evidence that wearing them before bed can help you sleep better if you frequently look at screens before bed, as blue light is known to affect sleep patterns. (Learn More)
These glasses are comparable in price to other glasses, and it is possible to get prescription blue light glasses. Be mindful of whether your insurance policy will cover blue light glasses. With limited evidence of their efficacy, some insurance companies may be reluctant to cover the costs. (Learn More)
Given the many false claims out there, be wary of believing everything a seller says about blue light glasses. Assess the claim being made and the evidence backing it. Claims about the glasses’ ability to help with eye strain are dubious. Claims that they will stop electronics from damaging your eyes are fabrications since electronics don’t cause such damage. (Learn More)
What Are Blue Light Glasses?
Blue light glasses aim to block blue light, a spectrum of light that is common among electronic screens and certain other bright lights.
While often ignored in the discussion of blue light glasses, you are actually exposed to far more blue light from the sun. Most blue light glasses, frequently called computer glasses, are not fully equipped to protect your eyes from the sun and should not be relied on for that purpose.
With the growing trend of Instagram influencers and other e-celebrities promoting these glasses, and a great deal of anecdotal evidence touting their advantages, many people are left wondering if the glasses can do what is claimed.
What Does Science Say About Blue Light?
While blue light glasses can indeed block blue light, there is not much evidence that this is an especially useful property. Their primary use, to prevent eye strain while staring at a computer screen, appears to largely be lacking evidence of its efficacy. While there are ways to avoid computer eye strain, blocking blue light may not be as helpful as some claim.
Any claim that these glasses will prevent permanent damage from staring at electronic lights or screens is a false premise. According to a 2015 study, there is no evidence these types of lights can do permanent damage to your eyes. They do not produce ultraviolet radiation, the primary way dangerous light sources the sun do damage.
To best avoid eye strain, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following evidence-based approach:
- Sit 25 inches or more from your screen.
- Tilt your screen, so you look slightly down at it.
- Reduce the screen glare with a matte filter, if you deem it necessary.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes shift your view to an object at least 20 feet away and stare at it for 20 seconds.
- If you experience dry eyes, use artificial tears to lubricate your eyes.
- Adjust your room lighting. Ideally, your light levels will roughly match the light of your screen to reduce contrast.
- Take a break from contacts and use glasses instead if your eyes feel strained.
While rarely marketed for this purpose, there is evidence that blue light reduction can help with sleeping. Multiple studies, including a 2015 study, showed that wearing glasses that block blue light for a few hours before bed can help people sleep. This seems to apply to users who look at electronic screens before bed, a habit linked to sleep troubles.
Overall, the science seems to indicate that these glasses are not totally without purpose, but they also don’t prevent permanent eye damage (since the lights don’t produce the type of light linked to such damage in the first place). There is little evidence that blue light glasses prevent eye strain.
While more research should be done, many of the claims being made about these glasses are misleading or wholly inaccurate.
Pricing and Comparison to Regular Glasses
Depending on the quality, style, and brand, blue light glasses can cost as little as $10 or as much as $100 (or even more). This blocking property can be added to prescription lenses as well.
This is roughly in line with the cost of eyeglasses, which range from relatively affordable to hundreds of dollars, depending on brand, style, add-ons, and your prescription. Notably, prescription eyeglasses tend to be covered by insurance, which can greatly reduce their cost to you.
If purchasing prescription blue light glasses, check that your insurance will cover the cost. While many websites selling blue light glasses avoid saying so, some insurance companies may not cover blue light glasses due to the limited science behind them. This said, insurance plans vary widely in terms of what is covered, and some will ly cover the cost of blue light glasses.
Are These Glasses Scams?
A quick review of websites selling blue light glasses will show a trend of sellers overhyping the negative properties of blue light in order to convince consumers to buy the glasses. One will quickly see misleading or simply inaccurate statements, backed with little if any hard data.
Willful or not, consumers are frequently misled about blue light glasses. While they can help with sleeping by mitigating some of the effects blue light has on the brain, it is unly that they help much with eye strain.
If you wish to purchase blue light glasses to avoid screen time interfering with your sleep, your purchase is relatively easy to justify. The same cannot be said for using them to avoid eye strain, although some anecdotal evidence says they can help with such strain.
Do not purchase them if you wish to avoid permanent eye damage. While they won’t worsen your risk, they don’t help in that regard. Electronic screens will generally not cause long-term damage to your eyes, with or without special glasses.
Are Computer Glasses Worth It? (April 27, 2017). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Ultraviolet Radiation Emitted by Lamps, TVs, Tablets and Computers: Are There Risks for the Population? (August 2015). Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia.
Instagram Influencers Are Promoting Blue Light Glasses That Are Supposed to Minimize Eye Strain, but the Science Behind Them Is Overhyped. (November 16, 2018). Insider.
Do Blue-Light-Blocking Glasses Actually Do Anything? (February 13, 2019). The Strategist.
Blue Blocker Glasses as a Countermeasure for Alerting Effects of Evening Light-Emitting Diode Screen Exposure in Male Teenagers. (January, 2015). The Journal of Adolescent Health.
Eyeglasses Cost. CostHelperHealth.
Blue Light Glasses – Helpful or Just Hype?
Dec. 16, 2019 — Erin Lynn Sattler started worrying when her vision became blurry while using the computer, but her eye doctor said her eyes were fine. Then she got a new computer at work, with a much brighter screen, and her eyes and head started hurting. She’d heard of blue light glasses and did some online research to learn more.
“For $50 I figured it was worth a shot,” says Sattler, of Bellevue, WA. “Lo and behold, my eyes don’t feel as strained, my blurry vision is gone, and as weird as it sounds, my face doesn’t feel so tired after work.”
Sattler is among the growing number of people who wear special eyewear to block or filter the high-energy blue light coming from digital screens.
Market Study Report, a market research company, says the global market for blue light eyewear will increase to $27 million by 2024, up from $18 million in 2019.
The advertised benefits of the glasses include less eyestrain, improved sleep habits, and prevention of eye disease.
But do blue light glasses really work? It depends on who you ask.
Because the glasses are a newer product, there’s not a lot of research to show either way. The FDA doesn’t regulate the eyewear because it’s not marketed as a medical device.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology says you don’t need them and has gone on record as not recommending any kind of special eyewear for computer users. The organization says blue light from digital devices does not lead to eye disease and doesn’t even cause eyestrain. The problems people complain about are simply caused by overuse of digital devices, it says.
“The symptoms of digital eye strain are linked to how we use our digital devices, not the blue light coming them,” the AAO says.
In the United Kingdom, the Association of Optometrists says there is “a lack of high quality evidence to support using BB [Blue Blocking] spectacle lenses for the general population to improve visual performance or sleep quality, alleviate eye fatigue or conserve macular health.”
But some eye professionals believe they have benefits.
Greg Rogers, senior optician at Eyeworks in Decatur, GA, says he’s seen the benefits of blue light glasses among the shop’s customers. The staff asks a client how much time they spend in front of a screen daily. If it’s 6 hours or more, some sort of blue light reduction technique is recommended, whether it’s glasses or a special screen for a computer monitor.
The Vision Council, which represents the optical industry, says “specialized glasses” are “one tactic” that might cut eyestrain. Samuel Pierce, OD, former president of the American Optometric Association, told USA Today he recommended using blue light glasses to lessen eyestrain.
We were getting plenty of blue light before modern digital life began. Most of it comes from the sun. But gadgets televisions, smartphones, laptops, and tablets that populate modern life emit the brighter, shorter-wavelength (more bluish) light.
A 2018 survey by Acuvue, the contact lens maker, found office workers spend about 6.5 hours a day sitting in front of their computer.
A Pew Research Center survey found that 28% of American adults say they go online “almost constantly,” up from 21% in 2015.
Younger adults are online the most, with the Pew survey finding around half of respondents 18-29 years old reporting they’re online constantly.
Susan Primo, OD, an optometrist and professor of ophthalmology at Emory University, agrees that the research so far shows digital overuse, not blue light, causes eye problems. But some patients who wear blue light glasses do report less eyestrain, she says.
“If you want to wear them and find some benefits, that’s fine,” she says.
Primo says she’s bothered by some of the marketing and advertising of blue light eyewear because it doesn’t line up with the research.
“They can word it in such a way that makes it appear to be beneficial. They can say this might be possible. They can use words ‘may’ and ‘might,’” she says. “Marketing can take things to a level that might not be a sound recommendation, sound science, for people to go out and get them.”
An example: A chain of stores in the United Kingdom, Boots Ltd., was fined 40,000 pounds in 2017 for misleading advertising that said digital blue light caused retinal damage and that special eyewear sold at Boots Ltd. could protect users, Optometry Today reported.
Another argument in favor of blue light glasses is that they help you sleep better at night. Researchers agree that blue light from LED devices your smartphone or laptop holds back the body’s production of sleep-inducing melatonin.
A 2017 study done by the University of Houston found that participants wearing the glasses showed about a 58% increase in their nighttime melatonin levels.
“By using blue blocking glasses we … can improve sleep and still continue to use our devices.
That’s nice, because we can still be productive at night,” said Lisa Ostrin, PhD, a professor at the university’s College of Optometry, according to a university news release.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology takes a different approach. “You don’t need to spend extra money on blue light glasses to improve sleep — simply decrease evening screen time and set devices to night mode,” the group says.
Sattler says she knows about the studies that say the glasses don’t do anything. “I’ve heard the naysayers,” she says. “It very well could be placebo, but if it helps, who cares?”
Cindy Tolbert of Atlanta had a variety of vision problems and spent an extra $140 at the eye doctor for blue light lens.
“It’s not terribly apparent that the glasses help when you’re wearing them, but I believe I can work longer and I know I can work more comfortably,” she says. “Usually my eyes poop out after 4 or 5 hours of computer work, but I can work longer with the glasses.”
Michael Clarke of San Diego says he doesn’t care what the experts say about blue light glasses. They work for him.
“I use them so often that I have a pair of blue light glasses around my neck all day,” he says. “I’m not an optometrist. I just know that my eyes don’t get as tired at the end of the day. My frequency of headaches has gone down. I’m able to focus on things easier on a screen.”
You can easily order prescription and nonprescription blue light glasses at the optometrist’s office or online.
Calls to optometry offices showed that adding blue light blocking to prescription glasses cost $40-$60 at LensCrafters and $47-$125 at Pearle Vision, with nonprescription blue light glasses starting around $99.
Zenni has a special Blokz line of blue light glasses that start at $16.95. At Warby Parker, you add blue light blocking at checkout for $50. Felix Gray blue light lenses start at $95.
If you’re worried about how computers and other blue light-emitting screens are affecting your eyes, you can find relief without special eyewear.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Vision Council, and other vision-related organizations urge moderation in screen use. Most of them recommend adopting the 20-20-20 rule. That means that every 20 minutes you’ll look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology also recommends taking these steps:
- Adjust your seat, or the position of your computer, so your eyes are about 25 inches from the screen. Position the screen so you’re gazing slightly downward.
- Use a matte screen filter on the screen to reduce glare.
- Use artificial tears when your eyes feel dry.
- Pay attention to the lighting in the room where you work. You might try increasing your screen contrast.
If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes a break by wearing glasses now and then.
American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Maureen Beddis, vice president, marketing and communications, Vision Council.
Greg Rogers, senior optician, Eyeworks, Decatur, GA.
USA Today: “Do blue light glasses actually work? Everything you need to know before you buy a pair story on blue light glasses.”
StudyFinds: “Average Office Worker Spends About 1,700 Hours A Year In Front Of Computer Screens.”
Pew Research Center: “About three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online.”
Susan Primo, OD, optometrist; professor of ophthalmology, Emory University.
Optometry Today: “Boots Opticians Fined £40,000 Over Misleading Blue Light Advertising.”
News release, University of Houston.
Erin Lynn Sattler. Bellevue, WA.
Cindy Tolbert, Atlanta.
Michael Clarke, San Diego.
News release, MarketWatch.
© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Why you might need computer glasses
Vision problems are unfortunately one of the hazards of too much screen time. In fact, the Vision Council found that 59 percent of adults in the U.S. reported having some kind of digital eye strain (strained, dry, or red eyes; blurred vision; headaches; back pain; neck pain; or general fatigue) as a result of using digital devices for hours at a time.
We’ve previously noted several ways to prevent or reduce eyestrain, including using the 20-20-20 rule to regularly give your eyes a break and ergonomically optimizing your workstation. In addition to those essential tweaks, computer eyewear could also alleviate or prevent digital eyestrain, depending on your situation. Here’s what you need to know.
Dear Lifehacker,My job puts me in front of a computer from the moment I arrive until quitting…
Read moreG/O Media may get a commission
How computer glasses work
Computer glasses are special-purpose eyeglasses meant to optimize your eyesight when you’re looking at digital screens. They’re designed to: reduce glare (a major cause of eyestrain), increase contrast and maximize what you see through the lenses—making it easier to look at a screen for longer periods of time. Here are the two main features you’ll see in glasses these:
Anti-reflective (AR) coating: Anti-reflective coatings reduce glare bouncing off screens and from light sources. Specially-designed computer and gaming glasses from Gunnar and Ambr Eyewear offer these coatings and prescription glasses can get anti-reflective coatings as well.
However, not all anti-reflective coatings are the same. Older glasses might have a cheap coating that was constantly catching smudges and dirt—actually causing eyestrain and vision problems as a result. I was probably cleaning those things every half hour.
The glasses I recently got (funded by the Vision Council) with newer/more advanced coating don’t have that problem.
Validating my experience, Dr. Jeffrey Anshel, an optometrist and computer vision consultant (who was also the technical adviser for Gunnar Optiks), points out that when it comes to coatings, the new generation of coatings are much better than earlier versions.
Older ones peeled and scratched easily, resulting in unsightly cracks, so if you tried them a few years ago and had a bad experience, don’t write off the newer versions.
They’ve gotten much better, between being easier to clean and reducing reflections, glare, and halos.
Color tints: Some computer glasses also have an unmistakable (usually yellow) tint designed to increase the contrast on the screen and filter out the uncomfortable/harsh light spectrums so your eye muscles relax. The tinted glasses are signatures of Gunnar glasses, but tints can be applied to other glasses as well.
Costs: Gunnar glasses retail for $55 and up for the non-prescription versions, but you can often find sales on them. Prescription versions of the Gunnars, however, can cost several hundred dollars. Anti-reflective coating brands for prescription (and non-prescription) glasses include Crizal, Zeiss and Teflon.
The coating alone will set you back quite a bit. The coating typically costs between $70-140, in addition to the cost of the lenses and frame, depending on whether your insurance has a vision plan. For example, with the standard VSP plan, TechShield Anti-Reflective Coating will cost $69, as opposed to $115 without coverage.
We all know that spending the entire day staring at a computer screen is bad news for our eyes, but
What about blue light?
But what about all this blue light we’ve been hearing about lately? For the past few years we’ve been told that the blue light coming from our phones, tablets and computers is hurting our eyes, and there are plenty of companies out there selling blue-light-specific glasses (separate from the coating we’ve been talking about in this article so far).
As it turns out, no—blue light is not blinding you, and you do not need special blue-light-filtering glasses.
At this point, there is no empirical evidence that blue light causes irreversible damage to our eyesight, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology does not recommend any special eyewear for that purpose. (Now back to your regularly scheduled article on the other types of computer glasses.)
Are computer glasses effective?
Whether or not computer glasses will be worth it and work for you is subjective, because, as Dr. Anshel notes, factors include your visual abilities and computer usage, work environmental conditions, and your viewing habits. Blue light aside, here’s what experts and users have said about the other types of computer glasses.
First: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
If you aren’t experiencing any eye problems, you can just stop here. Specially coated and/or computer eyeglasses won’t do anything for you (other than geekify your look). In fact, they could be a hindrance. Dr. Robert Noecker, an ophthalmologist and Director of Glaucoma for Ophthalmic Consultants of Connecticut, notes that:
Computer eyewear does not necessarily prevent eye strain in an already optimized environment. Also, the range that the eyes can sweep from one side to the other is maximized without any eyewear.
The frame edges limit this range of motion and may actually hinder people more who are not getting much benefit from wearing the glasses.
Also eyeglasses get smudges which can interfere with vision as well.
If you experience eye strain, they might be worth it
That said, many people experience digital eye strain and simply ignore it. Dr. Justin Bazan, owner of Park Slope Eye in Brooklyn and a member of The Better Vision Institute on the Vision Council, says:
People are so accustomed to their eyes feeling tired at the end of the day, they just accept it. Just because it is normal, does not mean that it’s ok. Your eye doctor will work with you and help to get those eyes feeling better!
He notes these advantages of the different types of glasses:
[Eyeglasses with the premium anti-reflective coating] help to ensure that your vision remains clear by keeping dust, fingerprints, etc. from appearing on your lenses.
You will also want to look for glasses that include a small bump which will provide just enough of a boost in power, that the print on screen becomes slightly larger, thus decreasing eye strain.
In addition, most computer glasses can help increase contrast, which makes it easier for your eyes to focus on a computer screen.
It's no secret that sitting all day damages your body, but figuring out a system to counteract that
For me, getting anti-reflective glasses is a no-brainer because I have to wear prescription glasses anyway, and my eyeballs always feel they’re being squeezed their sockets after hours of research and writing.
The newer premium coatings are also much easier to keep clean. I wore my old glasses for a week, then the newer ones, and the difference in eye comfort is amazing.
I honestly think this is the closest I’ve ever felt to seeing as clearly as someone who doesn’t wear glasses—or at least what I imagine they might see .
As for glasses those from Gunnar and Ambr Eyewear: Reviews for them are mostly positive around the web; former Lifehacker contributor Jason Chen found prescription Gunnars helped with his eye issues. It’s anecdotal evidence, but lots of users echo these same sentiments: They can really help relieve those headaches you get from sitting in front of a computer all day.
Why computer glasses may seem a hoax
When they first hit the market, computer eyewear companies Gunnar Optiks really hyped up their products and used infomercial- tactics, which made them sound a little gimmicky.
In the years since, they’ve toned it down a lot, though.
But thanks to the whole not-science-backed blue light glasses industry (which again, is something different) it can be hard to separate what may be helpful versus something useless.
But Dr. Krista Anderson, an optometrist and co-owner of Pointe Vision Care in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, notes in an interview with Ars Technica that most of the features of computer eyewear this are really ones she recommends to patients anyway: anti-reflective coatings, tints and so on.
About 10 years ago, Gunnar made claims that their wraparounds glasses helped to keep moisture in your eyes, but have since stopped because there’s research indicating that it’s not true.
For example, in a clinical study by Pacific University of Oregon, researchers used two control pairs of eyeglasses similar to Gunnar eyewear and tested 38 subjects under glare and dry air conditions.
After measuring the patients’ tear volume and squinting and blinking rates, they found no significant difference between the Gunnar glasses and the controls. So you might not want to get Gunnar glasses solely if you’re rubbing your eyes constantly because they’re dry.
Having said that, if your eyes are dry, Dr. Noecker has a few recommendations for what might help with that:
Increasing the humidity of the environment is helpful with a humidifier if possible; electronic equipment dries the air. Taking breaks to relax the eye muscles is helpful, using artificial tears to improve lubrication of the eye surface and remembering to blink more (blink rate is reduced 2-3 less than normal with computer use).
By now, everyone knows that sitting all day is damaging your body, so it’s important to move around
So, should you buy them?
Before you spring for special glasses, make sure you’ve first set up your workstation and adjusted your computer habits for optimum eye health. We have lots of advice and explainers (using science!) to help you out:
After following all those guidelines, if eyestrain or other vision problems still plague you, take the advice from Ars Technica:
Our advice if you’re interested in something along these lines? Go to the Gunnar Optik site and create a pair of glasses with the features you want, and check out the price. Then go to a local optometrist and see if they can beat the price with the same set of features. Buy whichever is cheaper.
Many optical shops have return policies and warranties (Gunnar and Ambr Eyewear issue refunds within 30 days), so you can test the computer eyewear out yourself to see (literally) if it makes a difference for you.
Computer Glasses – What to Know Before You Buy
HomeConditionsDigital Eye Strain | En Español
When you work at a computer for any length of time, it's common to experience eye strain, blurred vision, red eyes and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS). This is because the visual demands of computer work are un those associated with most other activities.
If you're under age 40, eye strain or blurred vision during computer work may be due to an inability of your eyes to remain accurately focused on your screen or because your eyes have trouble changing focus from your keyboard to your screen and back again for prolonged periods. These focusing (accommodation) problems often are associated with CVS.
If you're over age 40, the problem may be due to the onset of presbyopia — the normal age-related loss of near focusing ability. This, too, can cause CVS symptoms.
What can you do? For starters, have a comprehensive eye exam to rule out vision problems and update your eyeglasses prescription. Studies show that even small inaccuracies in your prescription lenses can contribute to computer vision problems.*
If your glasses are up-to-date (or you don't need prescription eyewear for most tasks) and you continue to experience eye discomfort during computer work, consider purchasing customized computer glasses. These special-purpose glasses are prescribed specifically to reduce eye strain and give you the most comfortable vision possible at your computer.
Why computer glasses?
Computer glasses differ from regular eyeglasses or reading glasses in a number of ways to optimize your eyesight when viewing your computer screen.
Eyezen+ is one of the newest lenses designed to optimize vision and comfort during digital device use. According to manufacturer Essilor the lens filters at least 20 percent of blue light, but un other blue light filters, looks clear instead of tinted.
Computer screens usually are positioned 20 to 26 inches from the user's eyes. This is considered the intermediate zone of vision — closer than driving (“distance”) vision, but farther away than reading (“near”) vision.
Children and young adults who need prescription eyeglasses usually are prescribed single vision lenses. These lenses correct the wearer's nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism, and the shape of the lens inside the eye automatically adjusts to provide the extra magnifying power required for computer vision and near vision.
When a person's close-up vision becomes less clear due to presbyopia after age 40, this age-related loss of natural focusing power affects reading and seeing a smartphone or computer vision clearly and comfortably.
Bifocals can provide clear distance and near vision, but intermediate vision (needed for computer use and seeing your smartphone) often remains a problem.
And progressive lenses or trifocals, though they offer some help for intermediate vision, often don't have a large enough intermediate zone for comfortable computer work.
Without computer eyeglasses, many computer users often end up with blurred vision, eye strain, and headaches — the hallmark symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
Worse still, many people try to compensate for their blurred vision by leaning forward, or by tipping their head to look through the bottom portion of their glasses.
Both of these actions can result in a sore neck, sore shoulders and a sore back.
Though they sometimes are called “computer reading glasses,” it's best to call eyewear designed specifically for computer use “computer glasses” or “computer eyeglasses” to distinguish them from conventional reading glasses.
Generally, computer glasses have about 60 percent the magnifying power of reading glasses. But the optimal magnification depends on how far you prefer to sit from your computer screen and how close you to hold your digital devices.
Computer glasses also should accurately correct any astigmatism you might have, and precise measurements should be taken to insure the optical center of each lens is directly in front of your pupils when you are using your preferred working distance.
For these reasons, computer glasses should be customized to your individual needs. Using weaker, non-prescription reading glasses for computer work and seeing your digital devices typically won't provide the accurate vision correction you need for sustained clarity and comfort.
Computer glasses put the optimum lens power for viewing your computer screen right where you need it for a clear, wide field of view without the need for excessive focusing effort or unhealthful postures. University research also shows custom computer eyewear can significantly increase worker productivity.
Nearly 70% of American adults experience some form of digital eye strain due to prolonged use of electronic devices. To combat these effects, Clearly offers a line of Digital protection lenses, which offer a shield that reduces glare and filters the blue light from digital screens and artificial light.
We live in a digital world and extended screen time is quickly becoming the norm in our everyday lives. Prolonged usage of digital devices, including computers, tablets, andsmartphones, increases your exposure to Harmful Blue Light, which can lead to eye strain, blurred vision, headaches, and trouble sleeping. Reduce your exposure with regular breaks and digital protection glasses.
Get some new lenses and keep your eyes at ease.
Lens designs for computer eyewear
Many special purpose lens designs work well for computer glasses. Because these lenses are prescribed specifically for computer use, they are not suitable for driving or general purpose wear.
Computer vision syndrome causes eye fatigue, which can make you feel tired in general.
The simplest computer glasses have single vision lenses with a modified lens power prescribed to give the most comfortable vision at the user's computer screen. This lens power relaxes the amount of accommodation required to keep objects in focus at the distance of the computer screen and provides the largest field of view.
Single vision computer glasses reduce the risk of eye strain, blurred vision and unnatural posture that can cause neck and back pain, and can be used comfortably by young and old computer users a.
Another popular lens design for computer glasses is the occupational progressive lens — a no-line multifocal that corrects near, intermediate, and, up to a point, distance vision.
Occupational progressive lenses have a larger intermediate zone than regular progressive lenses for more comfortable vision at the computer. But this leaves less lens area for distance vision, so these lenses are not recommended for driving or other significant distance vision tasks.
Other lenses used for computer glasses include occupational bifocal and trifocal lenses. These lined multifocal lenses have larger zones for intermediate and near vision than regular bifocals and trifocals, and the position of the intermediate and near zones can be customized for your particular computer vision needs.
Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can help you decide which lens design will best suit your needs for computer glasses.
Lens coatings and tints
For maximum viewing comfort, the lenses of your computer glasses should include anti-reflective coating. Sometimes called anti-glare treatment, anti-reflective (AR) coating eliminates reflections of light from the front and back surfaces of your lenses that can cause eye strain.
Also, computer glasses with photochromic lenses can shield your eyes from potentially harmful high-energy visible blue light from your computer screen and digital devices — and automatically darken in sunlight outdoors, too.
Your eye doctor may also recommend adding a light tint to computer glasses to reduce glare caused by harsh overhead lighting and to enhance contrast.
For more details about anti-reflective coating and tints for your computer glasses, consult your eye care professional.
Where to buy computer glasses
Resist the temptation to buy over-the-counter reading glasses for use as computer glasses.
Because an accurate eyeglasses prescription is essential if you want to get the full benefits from computer glasses, it's best to purchase this eyewear from a knowledgeable eye care professional.
Prior to scheduling your eye exam, measure how far you to sit from your computer. Measure from the bridge of your nose to the surface of your computer screen.
Bring this measurement with you to your exam so your eye doctor can use it to help determine the optimum lens power for your computer glasses.
Also, read these computer ergonomics tips to help you arrange your computer workstation for optimum comfort.
*Productivity associated with visual status of computer users. Optometry. January 2004.
Gina White and James E. Sheedy, OD, also contributed to this article.
Ready to shop for computer glasses? Find an optical store near you.
Page updated August 2017