Why clear lenses don’t improve your sleep

Blue light glasses have been available for many years now with many brands and lens types available, but it’s important to look into the technical details before you decide which brand to buy. The three main types of lenses available are Amber, Yellow, and Clear. Let’s review the benefits of each and look into the claims they are making. 

First a quick note about blue light and its impact on your health. 

We need blue light during the day, to keep us alert and awake. The best source of blue light is the natural type, provided by the sun. This blue light is a component of the full spectrum the sun emits, and is in perfect balance with the rest of the wavelengths, as you can see in this diagram. 

Blue light is a high energy, short wavelength which is why its benefit is to keep us awake and alert. 

At the other end of the spectrum are yellow and red, and these are longer wavelengths, providing a calming, restorative effect. 

Wavelength Light Explained

It’s not the natural blue light from the sun causing harm to our health. This is being provided in harmony with the other colors and is also at the right time of the day - during the day when we need to be awake and alert. The harmful blue light is the artificial type, emitted by LED light bulbs and electronic devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones. The light from these sources is unnaturally high in blue (as you can see from the diagram below) and also not counterbalanced by the calming red and yellow light. This unbalanced version of light is particularly harmful at night-time when our body is needing to be in a calm state and enter sleep mode. Many studies have shown that exposure to blue light at night is suppressing the release of melatonin, a necessary hormone for restful sleep, disrupting our circadian rhythms, leading to long-term chronic illnesses. The range most harmful is between 440nm to 500nm. 

Blue light from electronic devices

Now let’s review the different types of lenses, and their ability to improve sleep quality. Starting with the top of the line...

Amber Lenses

This is the darkest tint of the three and provides the most powerful blue light blocking technology of them all. Not only do these lenses effectively block 100% blue light (400-500nm) from passing through the lens and reaching your eyes, they also effectively block some green light (up to 550nm) from passing through as well. This is important because green light, being a high energy wavelength like blue light, has been shown to suppress melatonin production in the same way blue light does. 

Why is amber the best lens for improving sleep quality? 

There are a few reasons why amber is the most effective at helping you get better sleep. 

Being an amber color, it absorbs the blue and green light wavelengths before it reaches your eyes and prevents your melatonin from being released. 

But equally important is what it does let through - the same color wavelength as the color of the lens which in the case of amber lenses are the calming red and yellow wavelengths. 

This is the ideal combination - blocking the bad while allowing the beneficial to pass through.

And it’s been scientifically proven that amber tinted glasses provide positive outcomes when worn at night. Wearing them results in a significant improvement in sleep quality and delivers positive mood benefits too. 

Yellow Lenses

Glasses tinted with a yellow color are scientifically proven to block the 400nm-450nm range and are designed for daytime wear. The benefit of these glasses is that they block a majority of the artificial blue light emitted by electronic devices and the light bulbs in the indoor environment but still allow some blue light through, enough to maintain daytime alertness. 

They are the ideal glasses to wear while at work, at school, while staring at computers or smartphones, and also anytime you are indoors and surrounded by light bulbs, during the daylight hours. If you find yourself suffering from frequent migraines, anxiety, depression or low mood then you may be highly sensitive to blue light, which these glasses help eliminate. 

Clear Lenses

According to the clear lens manufacturers these glasses block blue light but the question that needs to be asked is - what range do they cover? The clear lenses are only coated with a material that is supposed to provide some blue light protection but data from tests show results of as little as 5% and a maximum of 20% effectiveness. And there is also confusion between the term filtering and blocking. If the lens can only filter blue light that means a significant portion of the light is still entering your eyes. That’s not such a problem during the day when you need blue light, but is a major problem at night-time, when you don’t. For this reason we decided not to produce a clear lens collection because the data clearly shows they aren’t capable of protecting to a high enough standard to bring you any significant benefits. Something that goes against our company’s mission to provide real and honest health outcomes. 

How can you tell what level of protection the lenses provide?

A reputable manufacturer will be transparent and state their test results, using the most reliable means possible which is a spectral report from an expensive piece of equipment called a spectrometer. Below is our spectral report testing our Night lenses. Clearly they block all the blue light and some green. This is the only way you can be confident that the glasses you decide to purchase are blocking the blue light as they claim.

Spectral report Ra Optics Night Lenses

You may have seen the pen test being conducted on the clear lenses. Beware, this test is a hoax because this light, even though it appears to be blue on the videos, is actually in the violet range. This means they are not able to block the range of blue light causing harm to your health. If they were able to, they wouldn’t use this gimmicky, low quality pen test to try and convince you.

Other quality factors to consider:

Yes, the lenses you choose are important, but you don’t want to be buying these glasses again, so it’s best to buy quality frames too. You’ll want to wear them everyday to feel the greatest benefits, so the frames should be durable, lenses should be scratch resistant and importantly, they should be infused with the color not coated, so the blue light protection isn’t compromised. 

Our frames are made with the finest Italian acetate, a plant-based material that is durable and lightweight. 

Inside the arms we use the strongest in German-engineered metal, for the best in long-term strength and ability to withstand constant use. 

The lenses are of the highest quality material available, known as CR39, providing crystal clear clarity and color perception. 

And this is where we really stand apart from many others - we don’t just coat our lenses with the blue light protection, we go the extra step and infuse them with the specially designed pigment, ensuring it can never be scratched off and compromised.

Check out the different stylish designs we have available, and for kids too:

Night Lenses Collection

Day Lenses Collection

Kids Frames Collection

The end result…

Artificial blue light is here to stay and the chances of most of us being able to live our lives without exposure to it is highly unlikely. So the solution is using the best of technology to protect ourselves from it, at the right time of the day. If you want to reach your potential and maximize your sleep quality, then make sure what you are buying is delivering on the claims it is making. The data is available to check these claims, and you have every right to ask for it.

For more on lens technology listen to my interview with Kash Khan on Educate Inspire Change Podcast 

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