Do Those Headache Glasses Actually Work?
When you're a millennial in this day in age, you spend a lot of time staring at screens. When you're a millennial who also happens to be a digital editor, you spend pretty much all of your waking hours (and some of your half awake hours) staring at screens. And evidence points to the fact that too much screen time is probably not a great thing. Headaches and eye fatigue are common complaints.
Dr. Irina Shiyan, OD of Eyes on Second in New York, explains to me over email: "Whenever a patient presents with the above symptoms, we advise glasses to reduce some of the... strain." Glasses, huh? I'd heard about digital screen protection glasses, so I hopped to it. Dr. Shiyan tells me that "computer eyewear also comes equipped with an anti-reflective coating, which absorbs the glare emitted by the screens and a blue-blocking coating, which absorbs the blue light [that keeps] us awake at night."
EyeBuyDirect's Digital Protection Lenses have filters that claim to "protect your eyes from the potential harm of digital screens and blue light," according to the company's site. These sounded like a pretty good idea. So good, in fact, that the second I told my identical twin sister (who also works in digital media) about the magical digital protection glasses, she immediately had to test them for herself. The experts Allure consulted seemed to have mixed thoughts about the science behind the glasses' effectiveness, but my twin felt that the frames significantly reduced her eye-fatigue and lessened the frequency of her headaches.
Would they reduce mine? We have the exact same DNA, after all.
I figured the best way to truly test their effectiveness was to just use the glasses IRL during the workday, every single day, for a month. Screen time-related issues can differ from person to person, so I rounded up a group of Bustle editors, each with various complaints, to join my experiment. Some editors were long-time migraine sufferers, while some of them just really wanted a reason to wear glasses, but the one thing all of us have in common is that we spend a ton of time in front of flat, glowing screens. The eight of us, newly bespeckled, set out on a month-long journey. I asked each editor to record her experience with the "magical headache glasses," as they came to be known around our office. Here's what happened:
Hayley Saltzman (Me!), Senior Social Media Editor
Most common screen time-related issues: I usually get headaches about three to four times a week, and these headaches always happen around 3 or 4 p.m., after I've been sitting at my computer for awhile. They're super fun.
My experience with the glasses: I was excited to test out these glasses because I get frequent headaches, and because (if I am being completely honest with myself) I just really wanted an excuse to wear glasses for the first time in my life. The first day I tried the glasses, I took them on and off a few times throughout the work day. NOT A GOOD IDEA. When you've never needed lenses of any kind, wearing glasses admittedly takes some getting used to, and on my first day, the on-and-off method seemed to do more harm than good. I didn't notice any reduced strain on my eyes that day, but I did notice than I was far dizzier than I've ever been during an average workday.
On day two, I really tried to commit to the glasses and I made sure to put them on right when I sat down at my computer. Consistent wear seemed to be key, and after a few headache-free days at work, I was hooked. I still experienced occasional workday headaches, but I went from three or four headaches per week to three or four headaches during the entire month. Getting compliments on my cool news glasses from all of my coworkers didn't hurt, either.
Final verdict: I don't care if experts say these don't necessarily work, I have noticed amazing results. Even if it's just a placebo effect, I notice that my eyes feel a lot less strained while I'm at my computer, and my afternoon headaches have become far less frequent. Plus, I get to look cool in glasses, which is always a bonus. I'm definitely going to keep wearing these while I'm at work.
Melissa Mills, App Editor
Most common screen time-related issues: I've suffered from migraines since middle school, so constantly staring at screens (for work and because of my social media obsession) means that I can pretty much expect daily headaches.
My experience with the glasses: Since I wear contacts, I was really interested to see 1) if wearing glasses again would be annoying for me and 2) if I'd finally find a cure for my headaches.
The first day wearing the glasses was really a struggle, despite the fact that I felt so cool and trendy in them. I found out very quickly that, yes, wearing glasses is annoying — especially when I already suffer through putting contacts in every morning to avoid just that. I felt dizzy any time I looked up from my laptop or when I got up from my desk, so when I felt a pretty solid headache coming on I decided to take the glasses off. I resolved to be better after that, but every time I'd wear the glasses for more than two or three hours, I'd get a worse headache than usual.
Maybe it's because I'm constantly on my laptop, checking up on the Bustle app on my phone, then running around the office for one thing or another, but switching between screens seemed to be a huge trigger for me. By the end of the first week I decided not to wear the glasses at all, and I never looked back.
Final verdict: While the glasses were super cute, they just weren't for me. I would, however, consider putting prescription lenses into a pair because they really do look very cool.
Cristina Arreola, Books Editor
Most common screen-time related issues: I get headaches pretty frequently, and I suffer from aura migraines. I spend a lot of time reading on my iPhone, especially at night, and the light can be way harsh, man.
My experience with the glasses: I've worn glasses for as long as I can remember. In college, I purchased a pair of thick, tortoise-shell Ray-Ban frames that made me look and feel like a total boss. I switched to contacts a year ago, and I don’t regret my decision, but I do miss my frames from my time to time. They just had so much personality. So from a fashion perspective, I was immediately excited about these, though a little dismayed that I couldn’t try them on before committing to a pair. I have a round face, so I’m super picky about the shapes of my frames. Luckily, I’m happy with the ones I chose via their website.
For me, these glasses proved most beneficial while reading. Yep — reading. I’m a Books Editor, and I prefer to read on my iPhone, because it’s convenient and because I don’t want to be smothered to death underneath a pile of hardcover bestsellers in my NYC Hobbit hole. The blue light of the phone is a real sleep-killer, I’m told, but I won’t give up the convenience of ebooks. These glasses have been a huge lifesaver. They significantly reduce the amount of blue light making its way to my retinas. It’s like looking at my phone through a sepia-toned filter. It’s less harsh; it’s less blinding; it puts less strain on my eyes. I still stay up reading past my bedtime, but my phone’s brightness display is no longer at fault for my sleepless nights.
Final verdict: I'm hooked on these for pre-bedtime reading, and I will definitely continue using them.
Elly Ayres, Associate Affiliate Editor
Most common screen time-related issues: I’m in front of my computer for nine or more hours a day, but as soon as I hit hour two or three, my eyes feel like they’re on fire. The eye strain has become increasingly worse over time, especially because that screen time is necessary to do my job — cutting that back wasn’t really an option. My biggest annoyance, though, would be getting home and seeing bloodshot eyes that took hours to go away.
My experience with the glasses: I have always been jealous of my glasses-wearing friends, and I’ve been continuously reminded by my mother to be careful what I wish for. The first day I got to wear the shiny new specs, I loved how they looked. But more importantly, my eyes didn’t feel nearly as aggravated come 6 p.m. — and there were no mid-day eye rubs necessary.
When I got home each day my eyes were still a little pink, but they absolutely looked better than they do after a regular, glasses-free workday.
Final verdict: I definitely feel like these glasses worked for me, and I don’t mind the fact that they look awesome, too. I’ll continue wearing them as long as they’re working — especially on days when my eyes are feeling a little more irritated than usual.
Rosanne Salvatore, Senior Multimedia Editor
Most common screen time-related issues: I am a frequent headache and migraine sufferer. I definitely attribute some of these issues to staring at screens nonstop. I also experience feelings of fatigue in my eyeballs after long days, and a few days into the week.
My experience with the glasses: I wore the glasses on and off for about two weeks. If I started the day wearing them, I had to keep them on or I'd immediately feel a headache coming on. There were some days I swore they worked and other days I was positive they were the reason for my headaches. Basically, there was no real change in my life except feeling cool as a cuke in my tortoise shell rims.
Final verdict: They didn't work. Though I don't necessarily think they caused more headaches, they definitely were not the quick fix I was hoping they'd be. I'll continue to wear them sporadically because I love the fun frames and I want to try to convince myself they're helping with my headaches.
Tanya Ghahremani, Associate Entertainment Editor
Most common screen time-related issues: I get migraines with aura, and they're often heavily exacerbated by looking at any sort of screen — laptop or phone. I generally experience around three of these big headaches a month, plus a couple of smaller headaches about two times a week. All of my headaches generally occur toward the evening, after I've been staring at my computer screen for a few hours.
My experience with the glasses: I mean, I'll be honest: When I first heard about these glasses, I almost thought they were too good to be true. How could a pair of glasses solve years of screen-related headache issues? But they were cute, and I figured, hey, the future is now. After all, we have robot vacuum cleaners. Clearly, science has come a long way in recent decades, so why not give these cool glasses a go?
When I asked my doctor, Dr. Sarah L Rahal, MD, an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital, if the glasses could help with my migraines, she was unconvinced: "Unfortunately, there have been no clinical trials or data in the migraine population regarding glasses like this, so any proposed benefit is unfounded as of yet." She did point out a similar product, though, called TheraSpecs, "which makes lenses targeted for migraineurs with photophobia, based on similar principals, and they have a clear clinical trial showing efficacy." Maybe there was some hope for me, after all!
From the moment I got the glasses, I ensured I was consistent in wearing them, so they were on any time I was staring at a screen. The glasses wound up being so comfortable, though, that I would occasionally forget to take them off, and just wear them in my day-to-day life.
The first day, I didn't notice any positive effects — in fact, I developed a migraine toward the end of day one. Curiously, though, the migraine didn't seem as intense or as long-lasting as my usual migraines, but I'm not sure if that was the glasses' doing or just a fluke. Either way, I powered on and continued to wear the frames. A few more days passed, surprisingly headache-free — and I stayed that way for the duration of the experiment.
Final verdict: I definitely think they worked, at least a bit. The fact that my migraine was shorter is interesting, and the whole not-developing-headaches-after-that part of my experience is just amazing. Whether or not this can all be chalked up to the glasses or possibly just the placebo effect, I don't know. But I do know that I am absolutely hooked — and it doesn't hurt that I feel at least 98 percent more put-together when I'm wearing them. Even though the experiment is over, you can bet these glasses will have a permanent spot in my rotation of accessories.
Samantha Rullo, TV Editor
Most common screen time-related issues: While I don't usually get many headaches, my eyes tend to feel strained almost every day by around 4 p.m. and I often mess with the brightness levels of my screens in an attempt to fix my eye fatigue. Sometimes I also just put my head down on my desk for a couple of minutes in a dramatic display of eye-defeat.
My experience with the glasses: I was originally most excited to try these glasses because I've always wanted glasses but I was cursed with great vision. I wore them all day every day at work, and I found benefits beyond my superficial desire for glasses. I haven't felt eye fatigue at all and I haven't needed to change the brightness of my computer throughout the day, either.
Final verdict: I'm definitely going to keep wearing these glasses every day at work, and I've noticed such an improvement that I want to start them wearing at night when I'm on my phone/computer before bed as well. And to go back to my superficial reason, they are cute AF.
Jenny Hollander, Senior News Editor
Most common screen time-related issues: If I'm a little tired that day and my phone or laptop isn't on its "dim" setting, I tend to get headaches (always behind my eyes/around my temples). As a news editor, I'm constantly checking my phone or laptop for updates to the news cycle, so I haven't found a magic way to solve that problem — the headache generally sticks around until I go to sleep.
My experience with the glasses: I found that I could turn up the brightness settings on my iPhone and MacBook when I was wearing the glasses, because the brightness didn't seem to affect me as much. I didn't like taking my frames on and off throughout the workday — that confused my eyes, and they began to ache — but if I put them on at the beginning of my workday, and took them off when I left the office, then I suffered less from the brightness of all my different screens.
Final verdict: I love these glasses, for all the wrong reasons and the right ones too. I tend to break things, so I will probably sit on them in the near future and will promptly purchase more. The only real problem throughout the experiment: I got caught several times gazing happily at my new glasses-wearing self in the office bathroom mirror.
After a month of rocking the screen protector lenses, six out of the eight Bustle editors will continue using the glasses. If you have never needed glasses before and you just really want to wear glasses, these frames are a great excuse. Beyond that, if you spend a lot of time staring at screens and you're looking for a potential solution to the dreaded headaches and eye fatigue, EyeBuyDirect's lenses are a relatively simple, affordable way to try to address the problem.
While my identical twin sister and I don't necessarily share as many traits as you'd think, it looks like this was one instance where we both saw similar results.