Spectrophotometric properties of commercially available blue blockers across multiple lighting conditions
Lenses that filter short-wavelength (“blue”) light are commercially marketed to improve sleep and circadian health. Despite their widespread use, minimal data are available regarding their comparative efficacy in curtailing blue light exposure while maintaining visibility. Fifty commercial lenses were evaluated using five light sources: a blue LED array, a computer tablet display, an incandescent lamp, a fluorescent overhead luminaire, and sunlight. Absolute irradiance was measured at baseline and for each lens across the visual spectrum (380–780 nm), which allowed calculation of percent transmission. Transmission specificity was also calculated to determine whether light transmission was predominantly circadian-proficient (455–560 nm) or non-proficient (380–454 nm and 561–780 nm). Lenses were grouped by tint and metrics were compared between groups. Red-tinted lenses exhibited the lowest transmission of circadian-proficient light, while reflective blue lenses had the highest transmission. Orange-tinted lenses transmitted similar circadian-proficient light as red-tinted lenses but transmitted more non-circadian-proficient light, resulting in higher transmission specificity. Orange-tinted lenses had the highest transmission specificity while limiting biologically active light exposure in ordinary lighting conditions. Glasses incorporating these lenses currently have the greatest potential to support circadian sleep-wake rhythms.