Are your glasses up to the blue light?

Screen use is straining our eyes — but the solution opens up a whole new sartorial avenue

By Chloe Mac Donnell
  • Published 13.03.19, 2:05 PM
  • Updated 13.03.19, 2:05 PM
  • 3 mins read
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According to a report by Ofcom, the average person in the UK is now using screens for 24 hours a week — twice as long as 10 years ago — with one in five of all adults spending as many as 40 hours a week on the web. (Shutterstock)

If your eyes feel dry and scratchy by the end of the day, and you’re having trouble nodding off at night, you could be in need of a sci-fi-sounding solution with style potential — glasses that block out blue light.

This high-energy visible light occurs naturally in sunlight, but can also be found in digital devices such as smartphones, computer screens and some LED televisions. Long periods of exposure to this light are increasingly becoming linked to a reduction in the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy, as well as damage to the eye tissue itself.

The simplest solution would surely be to just turn off the screens. However, many jobs require workers to spend eight hours in front of a computer screen, not to mention doing the online order on the commute home, followed by an evening plonked in front of Netflix — so powering down isn’t easy.

According to a report by Ofcom, the average person in the UK is now using screens for 24 hours a week — twice as long as 10 years ago — with one in five of all adults spending as many as 40 hours a week on the web.

No wonder we’re all looking for a solution to combat that fried-eye feeling.

“As a concept, blocking the blue light has always been around, but when Apple introduced the night mood function to iPhones, people became far more aware of the existence of blue light and there has been far more interest,” explains Mehreen Shaikh, an optometrist at Finlay London, UK. “Essentially, this is done with a coating applied to the lenses, as an add-on to the glasses.”

The coating can be applied to prescription glasses and also to clear lenses. Unlike the night-mode option on your phone, it does not give the glass a sepia tone, so the lenses won’t look any different. The only giveaway is a tiny purple hazy tone in the reflection if you have your picture taken while wearing them.

At Finlay London, the coating can be applied to any of their 14 styles of frames, and there are also a string of new brands dedicated to ready-to-wear blue-light-blocking glasses.

“About 90 per cent of our sales are for non-prescription lenses, meaning people with perfect eyesight are looking to protect themselves from their screens,” explains Dan Nugent, co-founder of Ambr Eyewear, an online site dedicated to glasses that block out blue light.

Nugent previously worked in the tech industry and had trouble sourcing glasses to combat the eye pain he felt after long hours in front of a computer. He could only find ugly goggle-like glasses with deep orange lenses and could not believe there wasn’t a more stylish option.

In 2017, he set up Ambr, which now carries six styles that look like regular optical glasses.

“Within 18 months, we have achieved online sales in more than 60 countries worldwide and expect to achieve revenue of £7,50,000 (almost Rs 7 crore) in our second year. We are also launching in-store at Selfridges soon,” he says.

Elsewhere, Moscot has a Digital Relief clip-on lens that the brand’s CEO, Dr Harvey Moscot, believes “helps to eliminate glare and provides a better experience for anyone viewing a digital screen”. It can easily be snapped on and off to existing glasses when needed.

For the high fashion eye, look no further than Tom Ford, which last year introduced a range of 10 blue-light-blocking styles.

At the cheaper end of the scale, The Telegraph’s Krissy Turner has been wearing a tortoiseshell version from Quay Australia for £38 (about Rs 3,500) for the past six months. “I suffer from regular migraines and was advised by my optician that, while I don’t need prescription lenses, it could be worth investing in a filtered pair of glasses. I haven’t taken them off — or had a migraine — since I got them.”

Donning a pair sounds much easier than a digital detox.

The Daily Telegraph