There are so many computer glasses on the market today. The information can be confusing and overwhelming. Blue blockers. UV filters. Multi focals. Anti-reflective. Reading glass powers. No power. As a retailer & consumer of computer glasses, I’m going to attempt to organize the different types of affordable computer glasses available.
It helps to first determine what the user’s vision needs are. This will quickly enable you to pinpoint the right product. The main needs are protection from harmful rays or adjusting reading strengths for varying distances.
Protection from harmful rays. Rays emitted by your computer and device include UV & Blue Light (also referred to as HEV’s or High Energy Visibility). Though some blue rays are beneficial in regulating our sleep cycle, most UV & Blue Light is harmful. Short term effects include headaches, eye fatigue, and itchy or watery eyes. Long term effect of UV & blue light exposure can include Macular Degeration, cataracts, retinal degenerative disease. Google any terms linking long term harmful effects with blue light, and you will find many studies and evidence. Products for this class of computer glasses include any lens that effectively filters out the UV & HEV’s. They are based on the rationale that if UV/Blue light harms our eyes, then filtering this light will therefore protect them.
Most products available on the market today filter 100% UV and between 25% and 50% of the bad blue light. Why not 100% blue light? There has to be a balance between protection and function. A blue blocking lens, with today’s available technology, would have to be very dark to block 100% of the bad blue light. This would cause eye strain, which defeats the purpose of creating a product that eases visual use. On the other hand, because UV light is invisible to begin with, block it completely does not hinder our visual perception at all.
As a sort of curator of affordable, usable computer products, I have found Melanin Lens computer glasses as well as ClearBlue computer glasses to be the best available.
Melanin Lenses incorporate the natural filtering molecule “Melanin” into the fabric of the lens, which absorbs 100% of the UV light, and 40% of the blue light. The tint acts as a natural anti reflector. Anti reflection is when you see glare on your glasses, or the reflection of your own face in the lens. Though in itself, reflection does not pose long term harm, it can be annoying as well as product other short term symptoms such as headaches. Customers have reported immediate relief of computer overuse symptoms. However, a few customers have reported that they don’t like the style of amber tint glasses. Though there is minimal color distortion, it can be too much for graphic designers and artists. They are available in plano (no strength, for people who don’t need glasses) as well as standard single vision reading powers. (The entire lens is magnified. ie- not bifocal)
Different Reading Strengths For Different Needs
You’re sitting at your desk. Your readers are perfect for the letters & mail spread in front of you. You look up at your monitor, and are overwhelmed by the lens power. You get a text to your phone, and that seems way too small. What is going on???
In the simple days, before the booming popularity of PC’s and then mobile phones, finding the right over the counter reading glass was easy. It was based on determining what strength was most comfortable when you held the text 14″ away from your eyes.
With today’s modern visual needs, we are reading at distances of about 20″ (desktop screen) or as close as 10″ (mobile phone). With each distance, there is a varying focal length need and a unique reading power to “correct”. Generally, the FARTHER the object, the LESS power you need. The CLOSER the object, the MORE power you need. This has to do with the angle the light needs to bend to hit the sweet spot on your retina just right to allow perfect focus. That angle is determined by the convexity of the lens.
Multi focus glasses combine two or more strengths in the same lens. Brilliantly positioned to track our eye movements, the weaker strength is always located on the top. After all, we usually look ACROSS our desk at our desktop. Then we peer DOWN to read mail on our desk.
In this way, multi focal readers not only help with eye strain & squinting but also prevents neck & upper back strain as well as awkward posture. After all, using a reader strength that is less than optimal will result in you physically changing your position to obtain that perfect focal point sweet spot.
The best products I have found in an affordable price range are:
These have three strengths, which is perfect if you really feel the need to change your glasses frequently. If your mobile viewing distance is quite different than your laptop and then your papers, these are ideal. Perhaps you have other simultaneous visual reading needs, for example, reading small text on a cork board. The transition between the lenses has no discernible line, which makes the adjustment for most people seamless.
As the name suggests, the strength on the bottom is for reading papers on your desk, while the top is adjusted for computer screen viewing.
These products are OVER THE COUNTER, so it is a one size fits all solution which doesn’t work for everyone. And unfortunately, there are no affordable solutions that tackle BOTH the light blocking needs as well as the varying power needs. You can have an optician create a customized pair of computer glasses that will take care of any and all of these needs. It would be much more expensive, but sometimes, for matters like eye health and comfort, it is worth every penny. The examples in this article are meant as easy, quick over the counter solutions for people who just want an extra pair, or are satisfied with what these products have to offer.