These days you’re either part of the 43% of Americans who have a job that requires prolonged computer use, or you’re just one of the rest of us who voluntarily stares at a social media feed all day. Either way, you’re probably getting way too much screen time, and it’s not great for your eyesight.
Digital eye strain is real and it’s getting worse. Around 65% of Americans report symptoms like dry eyes and headaches due to looking at screens, and this has increased by 7% with each passing generation.
The real villain here is blue light. Blue light is a high-energy light emitted by the screens we use all day long. While it makes screens more energy efficient, some claim that this kind of light can be bad for your health in high doses.
It’s important to note that many main-stream scientists, like some at the University of Alabama, suggest that blue light from your phone or computer screen is not particularly dangerous and mainly can help contribute to eye strain. Other studies claim to link this spectrum of light to more painful eye strain, disruption in sleep cycles, and even macular degeneration, which I’ve seen my grandmother suffer from first-hand.
The current leading cause of vision loss, Macular Degeneration, occurs when the central part of your retina starts to deteriorate, leaving you with only your peripheral vision. It affects over 10 million Americans today, and is a truly devastating condition.
Luckily, there’s something that can help you avoid it: blue light glasses.
Yep, now you’re going to be sorry you called that kid four-eyes in second grade….
If you’re one of the ⅓ of Americans who happens to spend 8 hours (or more!) in front of a screen every day, you might want to check out what Felix Gray, Warby Parker and Zenni’s Blokz have to offer. We’ll dig into these three optical fashion brands to see which one offers better protection for you (and your budget). We’ll also answer the bigger question: are blue light glasses from companies like Warby Parker and the others even worth buying at all?
But first: Why is blue light so bad for your eyes?
Remember when you learned about the light spectrum back in highschool? Let’s revisit that briefly.
The sunlight that we see is made up of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet light. When you mix all of that together, we see white. Each color uses a different amount of energy and has a different wavelength. Blue rays, for example, have shorter wavelengths and more energy. When you’re looking at a screen, such as your mobile phone, laptop, or even looking at a fluorescent light, a lot of the light can appear to be white, but is actually largely made up of blue light, thus exposing the eye to the end of the spectrum that is blue.
Just light a bit of sunlight here and there is good for you, so is blue light. Blue light boosts your alertness and regulates your circadian rhythm, helping you fall asleep each night and wake up each morning. And this spectrum of light is crucial to the development and growth of our vision, so don’t raise your kids in a cave. Seriously, let your kids go outside and experience the sun, it’s good for their eyes in the right doses (but don’t look at the sun, you know that!)
But just as it helps us, some of the science suggests that it can be detrimental. Too much exposure can disturb your sleep and wake rhythm, and some scientists believe can lead to damage to your retina. (Of course, you could just stop staring at your computer all day – but then you’d probably also be out of a job, or miss your friends super-important Instagram post, so…)
So are blue light blockers actually helpful?
Blue light glasses essentially put a filter over whatever you see to help block some of this particular spectrum of light that’s coming into your eyes. While there is little research that suggests that these glasses actually help digital eye strain, a lot of people who spend hours on the computer each day have reported relief when using this type of light blocking glasses.
So, which blue light blockers are best: Felix Gray or Warby Parker or Blokz by Zenni?
Best Blue Light Glasses: Felix Gray vs Warby Parker vs Blokz by Zenni
|Starting price||$95||$145 (+$50 to any frame you choose)||$16.95 to $59.95 add on to glasses purchase|
|Material of frames||Italian acetate||Cellulose acetate||Acetate, metal and others|
|Available for non-prescription glasses?||✔️||✖️||✖️|
|Donation for every pair you buy||✖️||✔️||✖️|
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Now that you have a general sense of how each brand compares, let’s dive into the nuances of each.
Review of Felix Gray Blue Light Glasses
Felix Gray was born from personal experience. Founders David Roger and Chris Benedict were working at their computers for hours a day only to be met with – you guessed it – eye strain. The two reinvented computer glasses for the modern day consumer, and today we have Felix Gray.
Felix Gray glasses will filter blue light, specifically the highest energy wavelengths of 400-440nm, and eliminate glare. In addition to the harmful effects of blue light Felix Gray addresses the issue of glare, noting that “glare creates unnecessary feedback that our eyes need to filter out. This causes stress on our eyes, but is easily prevented.” Luckily all of the Felix Gray lenses have premium AR coatings (AKA anti-glare) and prevent up to 99% of glare from entering your eyes.
All of this lens goodness can be found housed inside Felix Gray’s quality frames made of Italian acetate and German metals. The frames are durable and the lenses more scratch resistant than the next guy.
While Felix Gray is perfect for anyone whose eyesight needs a little extra help, the glasses can also be made without a prescription, so you can protect your eyes and look cool doing it. Felix Gray frames start at $95 and are available in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.
Review of Warby Parker’s Blue Light Lenses
Originally founded with a goal of democratizing the world of eyewear, crowd favorite Warby Parker now caters to anyone wanting to block some of that bright blue light. While Warby Parker frames with blue-light-filtering lenses are only available as a prescription, they have plenty of styles to choose from and as always, there’s the buy-a-pair-give-a-pair perk that no do-gooder could turn down.
Available as an add-on, any pair of Warby Parkers you pick out can have blue-light-filtering lenses. Their blue light lenses filter more blue light than their standard or high index lenses, so you can get that extra protection. With frames starting at $95 and the blue-light-filtering lenses costing you $50 extra, Warby Parker is slightly pricier than Felix Gray, but with their wide variety of styles, it all depends on personal taste.
Not sure which pair will suit your face? Take their quiz and then try Warby Parker’s home try on and pick five styles to have delivered right to your door.
Warby Parker vs Felix Gray
Our research is showing that the two hottest online players in the blue light glasses space right now are Felix Gray and Warby Parker. So it’s worth a quick deep-dive that compares the two. In a head to head comparison, Felix Gray is cheaper for people who do NOT need prescription lenses. However, both brands start around $145 for prescription lenses, and you’ll spend up for the frames. Warby Parker easily has two times more (probably even more) frame options to choose from, and we love some of their styles.
Review of Blokz by Zenni
Zenni is known for low cost frames and prescriptions (some of their glasses start at less than $10 – but add ons can quickly move the price up into a more “normal” online glasses range). Zenni’s Blokz is their take on blue blocking, and they have a few different types to choose from. The Blokz line has:
- Blokz – the regular, indoor/outdoor, work/fun blue blockers, $16.95 to $49.95 extra when we shopped
- Blokz Photochromic – a “virtually clear” lens that darkens automatically in bright sunlight, between $39.95 and $59.95 extra when we shopped
- Blokz Sunglasses – tinted sunglasses specifically designed for bight and outdoor use, in addition to the basic Blokz cost, this was an extra $4.95 when we shopped
- Blokz Trivex – impact resistant lenses, $39.95 extra when we price shopped
Similar to the other online glasses providers, they have a “quick start guide” where they encourage you to enter your vision prescription, and then they will start to show you frames and offerings that will work best for you. You have to select to add Blokz on after you select your frames, so don’t forget to scroll through the many, many types of lens that they offer to find it. And you can use the “face shape” tool to try to pick the right frames. Pretty nifty!
What are customers saying about Felix Gray blue light glasses vs Warby Parker and Blokz by Zenni?
Felix Gray has tons of happy customers, but seeing as they don’t have any physical stores, most note that it’s important to find the right fit for you. Luckily, they have a Fit Guide to, well, guide you.
If a software developer has decreased eye pain, then you know it’s good.
Zenni’s got the whole celebrity endorsement thing going with the Blokz line. Actress Rashida Jones endorses Blokz in a series of cute ads. Several sports teams are also sponsored by and endorse Blokz, like the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bulls. So if you are swayed by four-eyed professional athletes, Zenni is your place to go!
Hmm… I’m not convinced: what else can I do to help my eye strain or eye fatigue?
While the American Academy of Ophthalmology doesn’t exactly endorse blue light glasses, they do have a few tips that might help your eye strain.
- Sit about an arm’s length from your computer screen.
- Position your screen so you are gazing slightly downward
- Take regular breaks from the computer.
- Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Refresh your eyes with artificial tears.
- Increase the contrasts on your screen to reduce eye strain.
- If you wear contacts, give your eyes a break and wear glasses.
We recommend you try these measures first, and if you’re still suffering from dry, tired, or painful eyes, check out blue light blockers as a backup.
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The Verdict: Are blue light blocker glasses worth it? And who makes the best -- Felix Gray, Warby Parker, or Zenni?
With insufficient evidence to back the claims of macular degeneration, eye disease, and even the basic eye strain, it’s hard to say. But no humans have ever stared at screens as much as we have, so you’re probably better safe than sorry.
The first way to easily test them is if you are already a glasses wearer. Then, you may want to consider adding a blue light blocker lens to your next pair for a small up-charge. You could even conduct a mini experiment on yourself, wearing the old pair one day, and the blue-light filtering the next. This would help you get a more objective view if this technology will help you feel better.
Both Warby Parker and Zenni would be great options in this case, because they both offer blue blocking add-ons for prescription glasses. They are both established brands with many happy customers, so you likely won’t go wrong with either, but as an avid Warby customer myself, I’d strongly recommend their glasses and extreme attention to detail when it comes to customer service.
If you don’t wear prescription glasses already and your job requires you to stare at a screen all day, you should definitely consider a pair of blue-light-filtering glasses from Felix Gray. It’s the only brand (that I know of) that offers non-prescription pairs of blue light blockers, and they are pioneers in the space. Check them out, and let us know in the comments below if your eye strain improves! We are genuinely curious to hear about your experience.