Since the pandemic began, screens have become even more prevalent in a society that was already using them a whole lot. Searches for blue light glasses have shot up since 2020; a fact that’s unsurprising when we consider more people working from home, overall increased screen time, and the fact that a pre-pandemic report already found that over 60% of adults experience symptoms of digital eye strain from device use.

And while they may not be for everyone, if you are someone who is keen to get a pair of blue light glasses there are still ways to do this sustainably.

What’s the deal with blue light?

Sunlight contains multiple types of coloured light, each with a different wavelength and energy level, that combine to create everyday ‘white light’. Blue light wavelengths exist at the high end of the light spectrum, right before UV, with a short wavelength and high energy levels. Blue light is emitted from the sun as well as from man-made sources including computers, tablets, and smartphones.

In general, blue light is said to be beneficial during daylight hours as it can boost attention, reaction times, and mood, however in recent years people have become concerned about over-exposure to blue light. While the blue light emitted from screens is only a small fraction of that emitted by the sun, concern comes from the amount of time people spend on digital devices, plus the proximity of these screens to the eye.

Blue light glasses

Glasses with blue lenses limit eye exposure to blue light, with lenses that block most blue light from passing through. Proponents of these glasses believe they can help with long term eye protection; reducing eye strain, dry eyes and headaches, and improving sleep (as blue light has been said to disrupt the circadian rhythm).

However, others believe that there isn’t yet enough evidence to suggest that blue light lenses are beneficial. While cell culture experiments and animal studies have found that blue light can damage the retina, they state that there is still a lack of evidence to find that blue light glasses could reduce the risk of retinal conditions, especially as the levels of blue light emitted from devices are very low.

I think there’s two ways people will take this: ignore the idea of blue light glasses, or decide to get them just in case. After all screens are still a relatively new invention, who knows what we may learn in future about how we interact with them? 

For this reason, I also don’t think blue light glasses are going away. And if people are going to opt for them, I’d love them to know there are sustainable options out there.

Sustainable blue light glasses with Retrospecced

Retrospecced are a social enterprise upcycling retro and designer glasses frames. Many perfectly good frames end up going to waste because it’s almost impossible to donate them when changing to new glasses. Variables in prescriptions are so wide ranging that t’s actually a logistical nightmare to attempt to match a donated pair of frames to an individual, and in 2010 the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness agreed that this was not a sustainable way to provide vision care across the world. Instead, local stakeholders are trained to provide eye tests and dispense the correct prescription lenses to people as and when needed, whilst donated frames are often recycled for their scrap metal value. Retrospecced was born out of the desire to find new homes for these perfectly good frames.

To do this, Retrospecced partners with the charity Vision Aid Overseas, who receive over 70,000 frames a week in donations. They sort through them in their warehouse, choosing the best vintage and designer frames to sell on, customising the lenses to your specific needs and donating 20% of profits directly to Vision Aid Overseas. This funds the charity’s sustainable methods for providing global vision care through building vision centres, running community outreach programmes, working with local hospitals, and training local optometrists and staff so that countries can ultimately become self sufficient in eye care. 

Plus, Retrospecced also works with local UK opticians, taking old cases off their hands and repurposing them to hold their upcycled glasses. This reduces waste in two areas of the same industry, preventing unused cases from being thrown out too.

And because Retrospecced can completely customise your lenses, you can get sunglasses, glasses and blue light lenses. Their blue light options aren’t just a film on top of the lens, as seen in some cheaper options, but a specific lens crafted and tailored to the wearer, as the filter is built into the lens itself. You can opt for these lenses when purchasing with prescription glasses, or for a non-prescription pair if it’s something you’d like to invest in but don’t usually wear classes. Whether vintage frames or  designer, they have an option for you.

While opinions may differ and this option isn’t for everyone, if blue light lenses are something that’s important to you Retrospecced ensures you don’t have to sacrifice on ethics or sustainability.

Head over to Retrospecced’s website to explore their range of sustainable & secondhand glasses

Extra screen use tips

Additionally, if you want to protect your eyes even further, remember to also:

  • Take regular breaks following the 20-20-20 rule (for every 20 minutes you look at a device, take a 20-second break looking at something 20 feet away)
  • Adjust your computer or screen settings to ensure that the brightness and contrast are balanced correctly.
  • Use “night mode” on devices and try not to use them right before bed.
  • If you find yourself focusing on small fonts or looking in detail at your screen, try making things larger by working at 125%-150% zoom.