It started so subtly, I barely noticed it. Eyes that got tired way before the rest of me did. A dry itch, sometimes stinging, that at first happened only at night while working on last-minute deadlines, but eventually lingered into the next morning. Feeling heavy-limbed and tired, yet unable to go to sleep. Waking up at three in the morning and staring at a dark ceiling for an hour or longer.
I thought it was some hormonal change brought on by aging. Maybe my body didn’t get the memo that the 30s aren’t the new 20s.
But then I spent a couple of weeks camping out in the forest, away from work and most sources of technology. During those two weeks, everything went back to normal. I could sleep again, and my eyes no longer felt dry or itchy.
It wasn’t aging, after all, that was messing with my eyes. It was more like my eyes were aging me, thanks to how much blue light they were taking in from computers, phone screens, and TVs, as well as everyday technology such as cash register consoles, digital billboards, and more.
It shouldn’t have been a big surprise. We all know by now that we should quit looking at our devices at least an hour before bed. But let’s be honest — how many of us are going to give up bedtime phone scrolling and Netflix bingeing?
You don’t have to become a nocturnal Luddite to save your eyes. You just need a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses. And after trying them for two weeks, I can tell you they worked.
Best Blue-Light-Blocking Glasses for Men
Best Overall: Nectar Black Crux
Made from ultra-flexible and shatterproof Swiss thermoplastic, these glasses can withstand being sat on while still in your pocket, getting jammed into your messenger bag, being played with by kids — the whole nine. Look for an expanded line of colors coming out for fall and new shapes coming in 2020. The clear, polarized, anti-reflective lenses filter out 50% of blue light, which makes them perfect for all-day wear.
Best for the Quality Conscious
Felix Gray’s collection of blue light-blocking specs are more than just lookers. (Pun intended.) They boast the sheen, heft and solid craftsmanship you associate with a high-end sunglasses brand like Ray-Ban. Most surprisingly, while the yellow tint of the lenses is nice and dark when you’re looking out, it’s barely noticeable from a looks perspective. Their frames come in a variety of classic profiles, but we’re partial to the rounded Roebling frame in this dark blue color; it’s also available in brown and tan. Beware of working at the coffee shop with these–you’ll get interrupted with compliments all day.
Best for the Indecisive: Jins Screen
Jins has a wide variety of frames to choose from, and every single one has the option to add Jins Screen, the brand’s blue-light-blocking tech for your usual daytime computer-staring, and Jins Screen Night, which is tailored specifically for screen-watching before bedtime. Just choose your favorite style — the square MCF-17S-243 will stand out in a crowd or a cubicle den — and your preferred lens at checkout for an additional $60.
Best for Improving Sleep and Mood: BluBlox Willis Sleep+
There’s a good reason to opt for blue-light-blocking glasses that feature a yellow or red lens. Both types not only block 100% of artificial blue light, offering your eyes reliable comprehensive protection from frequencies that contribute to not just eye strain, but also issues like depression, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder. Red lenses, in particular, are super useful for helping to treat insomnia, jet lag, and sleep deprivation by boosting the production of melatonin.
Best for Gamers: Gunnar Intercept
If you’re a Call of Duty addict, these are the glasses you need. The dark amber-tinted lenses protect your eyes during all-nighter campaigns, a silicone coating prevents scratches, and the ergonomically balanced frame means you never have to let go of the controller.
Best Affordable Option: 39DollarGlasses Blue495
This online shop boasts a range of frames and colors, but if you want glasses that will help with your computer-caused eye strain, then choose from the Blue495 selection. The Blue495 options lean toward the modest and classic, and each one includes an anti-glare coating on the lenses. Our top pick is the Versailles, which comes in black, tortoiseshell and gold. The best part? Every pair of glasses is (you guessed it) $39.
Best Super-Low-Budget Option: TruVision Readers
Do you love the simple, rectangular black frame look? Do you love deals even more? You can snag a two-pack of these easy readers for $30 on Amazon. For even more budget options, head over to our brother site, Digital Trends, which has a list of deals on computer-reading glasses.
The Background on Blue Light
I got hooked up with a pair of my own by Nectar founder Sean Holmes, whose line of blue-light-blocking glasses started with a niche collection of protective glasses developed for marijuana growers. Turns out their eyes really take a beating from the super-bright ultraviolet grow lights.
But cannabis industry professionals are far from the only ones suffering from overexposure to blue light. Blue light comes hard at all of us through everyday devices such as LED and fluorescent bulbs, computer monitors, smartphone and tablet screens, and even things like cash register consoles.
Is blue light bad? Well, it’s not that simple. The short wavelength and higher energy quotient of blue light are great for boosting alertness, aiding memory and cognitive function, and even elevating mood — all fantastic benefits, unless you’re trying to wind down and get some rest. The problem arises when overexposure to blue light (especially at night) begins to disturb the wake and sleep cycle, leading to problems sleeping and daytime tiredness. Over time, overexposure to blue light can lead to fatigue, sore or irritated eyes, difficulty focusing, and even age-related macular degeneration.
Yes, as the skeptics will tell you, sunlight contains more blue light than any man-made device. However, sunlight contains an equal measure of all the other colors of light in the spectrum, whereas the blue light is turned way, way up on our screens to deliver a bright, crisp image. Moreover, while sunlight reaches us indirectly and from a distance, we tend to stare directly at the blue light from our screens, at quite close range.
(This, by the way, is especially bad news for kids, whose developing eyes could be seriously messed up by the time they spend exposed to blue light at close range. In case you needed another good reason to fight the battle of limiting screen time.)
All this accounts for why blue light blocking glasses have achieved explosive popularity since they came on the market. Sean says he was blown away by the response when Nectar started offering them, not to mention how much they helped him, as well. After a long, manic day at a startup company, the blue-light-filtering lenses help him settle down and get better sleep, which only improves his productivity the next day.
Nectar’s corporate clients seem to have discovered the same effect. Companies will buy the glasses in bulk to gift to their teams, not only to offer some practical (yet stylish) relief but also to help lower their group vision health insurance. “I’m excited to see how this all develops,” says Sean. “It gives us a little bit of an edge, something we can be proud of being among the first companies to offer. It ties into our brand of encouraging people to do what they love. Helping people work hard and play hard is why we make our products.”
My Experience with Blue-Light-Blocking Glasses
When I was 23, I bought a pair of fake frames from an East Village sidewalk stand and spent the rest of the evening trying to feel like I belonged. The first night with blue-light-blocking glasses, I felt a little like that. I didn’t notice much of a difference, either. The lenses did make the computer screen look a little warmer, a little less intense.
I really noticed the soothing effect of the glasses by day three. Less when they were on, more when I looked at the screen without them.
By day six, I was looking forward to putting them on. My eyes felt like they were the equivalent of weary limbs that were slipping into a clean, soft set of sheets. I really never appreciated how much work my eyes do all day. The phrase “rest your eyes” isn’t a euphemism at all; it’s a real thing you should do because it feels awesome.
By day 10, I wasn’t just wearing the blue blockers at night. I was slipping them on for all-day use — anytime I planned to spend more than 15 minutes on my computer. By then, my partner was used to the sight of them and didn’t rib me anymore for wearing fake glasses. (In fact, he put them on and admitted that he noticed a difference. Just wait until he starts having sleep problems.) while the nectar ones work great, I’m already thinking about buying the darker red lenses for intense eye rest at night.
Below, you can peruse our picks for the best blue-light-blocking glasses for men and let us know if you like what you see (pun intended). These stylish options can be purchased with or without a prescription (meaning blue light-blocking technology is your only excuse to wear fake glasses).
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