Our world has changed a lot in the last century. Changes have occurred faster by far than the century preceding the last and even faster than the centuries before that. Chief among these changes has been the exponential growth of human technology and the many ways in which it shapes the world we live in. One of the most drastic transformations to our way of life came with the invention of electric light. A major shift occurred on our planet when the natural glow of fire and starlight was no longer the only force to separate life on earth from the darkness of night. For billions of years life forms lived, grew, and evolved alongside the natural rhythms of incandescent light from our closest star until not very long ago, humans augmented the planetary environment with the addition of artificial light. Fast forward to modern day over what seems like a millisecond on earth’s timeline and every landmass on the planet is glimmering with light from billions of systems and devices. Our ‘cities that never sleep’ are clearly visible from space as they are brightly illuminated even when night blankets the globe. Every street, home and living room in America, adorned with LED lighting systems and screens while every free hand scrolls away on a smartphone or tablet. It's no longer dark when the sun goes down on our world and in many ways, this is a great luxury of convenience for our species. Yet, in recent years, science has come to understand that this convenience may come at a cost to our health.
Artificial light, most notably the blue light emitted from LED lights, screens, and devices, has been shown to disrupt our circadian biology in ways that can lead to numerous deleterious effects throughout the human brain and body. From disrupted sleep cycles to a cascade of unwanted hormonal and physiological changes, exposure to excessive blue light has the power to negatively impact our wellbeing in a big way.
As more understanding about the harmful potential of artificial light begins to trickle into the mainstream through the help of industry-leading doctors and scientists, many top performers, athletes, and health gurus have begun utilizing blue light blocking eyewear in their arsenal of health-optimization and recovery tactics.
“the vast majority of blue blockers sold today are virtually useless from a blue light protection standpoint”
In recent years, glasses specifically marketed for their ability to protect the wearer from the harmful effects of blue light have exploded into the market as nearly every big eyewear company offers some version of this lens technology in their lineup. Going to the optometrist for a new pair of prescription glasses or readers? No problem. Just ask for the blue light blocking option, right? Well, there’s a catch:
Most of the blue light blocking glasses on the market are a gimmick that provide no relevant protection to the wearer from the harmful effects of blue light.
Sadly, it’s true. Whether companies are deliberately misleading their customers or simply don’t understand the science, we won’t speculate, but the vast majority of blue blockers sold today are virtually useless from a blue light protection standpoint.
Let’s break down why this is the case:
Most harmful blue light exposure comes from LED lights, screens and other devices which are known for emitting a powerful blast of blue light at 455 nanometers on the light spectrum. On a spectral analysis diagram this appears as a tall, narrow blue spike with a peak around 455nm as shown in the image below.
This “spike” of blue light not only constitutes the most intense light energy emitted by common LED light sources, but light measured at this wavelength has been proven to negatively impact our health and sleep by triggering the release of cortisol and suppressing the melatonin production in the body. So, in order for blue light blocking glasses to provide meaningful protection from common LED light sources and screens, they must block these wavelengths of light.
Here’s where the problem comes in.
Most blue light blocking glasses on the market use a nearly clear lens which only blocks blue light up to a range of 420nm-430nm and completely fails to block the powerful spike of blue light at 455nm. That’s because it’s not possible to block this spike of blue light without using a lens that is yellow in color. Some effective blue light blocking glasses go a step further to block both blue and green light, and in this case they may appear orange or red but if the lens does not appear in one of these colors, it’s not providing meaningful protection for your health.
This news may come as a shock to some people who have purchased a pair of nearly clear blue light blocking glasses under the impression that they are providing protection against his harmful artificial light. They may have even seen a demonstration like the one shown here wherein a blue laser or light is shined through a “normal” lens and a nearly clear blue light blocking lens for comparison.
The light is clearly unable to pass through the special blue light “blocking” lens. This effect is achieved because these special light pens are specifically designed to emit a beam of light in the range of up to around 400nm-430nm which is easily blocked by the lens technology and creates the illusion that these lenses are protective against blue light. However, as is illustrated in the below image, this is not the kind of light which is emitted by the LED lighting, screens and devices which surround us every day. These lenses are simply filtering a small portion of the light spectrum while failing to block the wavelengths that have a real impact on health.
Here's where Blue Free Optical comes in:
From its inception, Blue Free Optical was determined to offer blue light blocking eyewear that is effective at blocking the most harmful wavelengths of blue light while still offering as much color perception and clarity as possible. With this in mind, we designed a yellow lens infused with natural melanin pigment which blocks 100% of the blue light spike at 455nm while simultaneously providing a comfortable, optically superior experience for the wearer.
Click HERE to learn more about Blue Free Optical lens technology.
Our goal is to make eyewear that has a noticeable impact on health, sleep, and recovery for anyone who uses it, and our lens technology has done exactly that for thousands of people across the globe. Wearers of Blue Free Optical lenses report significantly improved sleep and recovery scores on fitness tracking devices such as Oura and Whoop, even after a short time of use. In one example, professional volleyball player Travis Mewhirter reported that wearing the glasses in the evenings resulted in a 12.5 percent improvement in his sleep score according to his Whoop fitness tracker. He also noticed a reduced resting heart rate; increased heart rate variability and an overall recovery score improvement of around 20 percent. By effectively protecting his eyes from the spike of blue light emitted by LED light sources, Travis is able to maintain proper melatonin production, and regulate the circadian rhythm of his body. The result is better sleep and the benefits to health and recovery that come with it.