If you want a doctor’s take on blue blockers and low-blue light bulbs, then this blog is for you.
Most people writing reviews or recommending products do not have the clinical opportunity or technical equipment to actually test the products. I am constantly testing products for both my own use and to recommend to patients, because at the end of the day, the value of my services is only equal to the results that my patients get.
People constantly ask me questions like, “which blue blockers do you recommend” or “which light therapy device do you use.” This blog post is a compendium of all the products that I recommend, including how I have tested them and how robust I think my recommendations are.
The links below are affiliate links, and I do receive commissions from some of the companies that I endorse (not all).
First things first, if you don’t understand what blue blockers are, then go watch this video.
When it comes to blue blockers, you have two basic choices – fashion or function. If you want blue blockers that work, but look silly or downright ugly, there are a wide range available for low prices that will work. I have not bothered to test any of these.
Everyone now seems to be advertising a “blue blocking” lens option for their glasses. What they don’t tell you is how little blue light these tints actually block. They can be effective in reducing screen glare, but they will not protect your melatonin levels from blue light from modern LED lighting (from screens or light bulbs). For that reason, I rarely recommend them.
What I do recommend are the dark red lenses from RaOptics and BluBlox. I have tested both brands with a spectrophotometer (a light meter) and found them to block blue light equally well. Style is of course up to you, and both companies have a nice variety and selection. As far as quality of construction, I have owned pairs of both for over a year with no issues. I treat them with respect – they’re obviously not indestructible.
Why do you need the dark red lenses? Because those are the ones that will effectively promote healthy melatonin levels and therefore healthy sleep. My patients have overwhelmingly been happy with the quality of the lenses in these glasses.
Blue-Light Blocking Software
I use Iris, which is the only program that I am satisfied with. In response to the demand for blue-light blocking software, Windows (the platform I use) has added a “night light” that you can access just by searching for it in the start menu. This can be used to toggle the warmth of the screen’s light.
Iris is cheap and effective. There are many, many free blue-light blocking programs that will work equally well, but Iris gives you the most control over exactly what kind of light your screen is putting out.
Low-Blue Light Bulbs
Blue light after dark disrupts circadian rhythms, which can seriously impact sleep and therefore longevity.
What most people don’t realize about low-blue light bulbs is that very few of them actually have “zero” blue light. Those that truly have zero blue light often have a little bit of green light, which can also alter circadian rhythms. The difference between low-color temperature incandescent bulbs and zero blue light bulbs is also, surprisingly, quite minimal. If you actually eliminate blue and green light from the bulb, you end up with a very, very red light. I know a lot of people who are happy to use red headlamps at night for light – and that’s it. If you have perfect vision and no issues with your balance, then that might work for you. However, if you want more light, you’re going to want to have low-blue light bulbs in your home to protect your circadian rhythms.
My experience has been that small amounts of blue light after dark do not measurably affect sleep quality. I have yet to confirm this with actual melatonin assays. What I have measured is my sleep quality while wearing or not wearing blue-light blocking glasses – and small amounts of blue light do not have a noticeable impact. I will revise this blog once I’ve done testing with melatonin assays. What I recommend to my patients is that they install low or zero-blue light bulbs in their bedrooms and bathrooms.
So what am I using in my own home?
The Hooga sleep bulbs in my bedroom and bathroom.
The Hudson Lighting 2100 K vintage incandescent bulbs in the rest of my home.
“But what about the blue light.”
I spent a long time carefully blocking all blue light after night in my environment. I have not seen a difference in my quality of life, labs, sleep, or performance since installing incandescent bulbs that emit small amounts of blue light. I think the effect is negligible. To those of you who have been asking me for product recommendations along these lines, here are your answers.