Recently, you might have noticed more and more people wearing tinted glasses. It’s been a bit of a fad lately, and we’re not necessarily talking about tinted sunglasses, but tinted eyeglasses which may be used indoors.
Some people wear tinted lenses just because they look cool (think Robert Downey, Jr.). But in any case, they can also serve a variety of purposes related to enhanced vision or eye health. In this article, we’ll talk about what tinted glasses are used for, which colors may have specific effects, and help you decide if tinted eyewear is right for you.
Applications & Benefits of Tinted Glasses
Reading the following list may help you navigate the different colors of tinted lenses. If you think a certain type of lens might be useful for you and your lifestyle, talk to your eye care provider for personalized advice.
Tinted eyeglasses for light sensitivity are a big thing. Light sensitivity may be diagnosed as a medical condition called photophobia. People who find that light causes them pain often retreat to a dark room, keep the blinds closed, or even wear sunglasses to get some relief, this can cause your eyes to adapt to the dark and actually make photophobia worse.
Light sensitivity lenses like those from Avulux® are designed to block the narrow wavelengths of light known to be troublesome for people with photophobia, while allowing the rest of the light in.
There is no best color tint for light sensitivity, it’s more about the wavelengths of light that the lens blocks. Wavelengths between 480 and 590 nm tend to be the most problematic for light sensitive people.
Designed by a neuro-ophthalmology and optics researchers, Axon glasses with Avulux lenses selectively absorb the most harmful wavelengths of light — up to 97% of harmful blue, amber, and red. But at the same time, they allow over 70% of the soothing green light in.
The neutral tint of Avulux lenses isn't done for the sake of color, but clinical effectiveness.
As we alluded to above, Avulux lenses may help those who live with migraine when paired with a healthy lifestyle. Those wavelengths that trigger discomfort for people with photophobia have also been shown to trigger or aggravate headaches in people who are prone to them.
In fact, the majority of migraineurs are also light sensitive. Migraine glasses are designed to block only the narrow wavelengths of light that may trigger migraines, so people can go about their lives normally. While some people seek short-term relief by staying in a dark room or wearing sunglasses indoors during a migraine, this can cause your eyes to adapt to the dark and actually make photophobia worse.
Even people who aren’t particularly light sensitive may find fluorescent lights bothersome. For those with photosensitive epilepsy, this is a definite medical issue. Fluorescent light fixtures discharge light using mercury vapors under low pressure. The resulting light is said to be related to symptoms like burning, watery, sore, or itchy eyes, eye strain, increased light sensitivity, trouble concentrating, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and headaches. Some tinted eyewear is purported to lessen the effects of fluorescent lighting, but there are other ways to lessen your exposure. Talk to your eye care professional about what’s best for you.
Computer & Gaming Use
Certain tints applied to eyeglass lenses are said to ease the eye strain that may be caused by harsh blue lighting from digital screens like TV’s, computers, and smartphones. Blue light has been shown to be related to symptoms like eye strain, blurry vision, headaches, dry eye, and sleep disturbances with overexposure. Tinted eyeglasses, often called blue light glasses or blue blockers, are designed to lessen the effects of blue light. However, new research shows they may not be effective. If blue light bothers you, talk to your doctor for advice.
For people who have trouble seeing while driving at night, tinted lenses may help them see better and feel more confident driving in the dark. These glasses are thought to work by reflecting the glare from street lamps and headlights and scattering it so it becomes less bothersome. Some people who wear night driving glasses claim better visibility for driving in the dark, but the jury is still out on actual proof of the concept. In fact, a study completed in 2019 shows that night driving lenses may actually slow visual reflexes, although this effect was not statistically significant.
Many people with dyslexia feel that colored lenses help with reading and processing information. Proponents suggest that certain colors of tinted eyeglasses for dyslexia can correct visual distortions, but most evidence-based research argues that dyslexia is a learning disorder involving phonological decoding and accuracy in fluent word recognition, and not necessarily visual distortion. Thus, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to support this claim.
What Color Tint Should I Use?
If any of the above apply to you, there are some things you should know about the effects of different colors of tinted eyewear. You should also go into your experimentation with your eyes open, so to speak, to make sure your expectations aren’t unreasonably high. With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the popular colors of tinted glasses and what they might be used for. See the infographic below and then read on for more detail.
Yellow or Orange
Yellow tints are said to be helpful for moderate to low-level lighting conditions. Surroundings may look brighter. Their contrast-enhancing property makes yellow glasses great for night driving or sports. There may be some color distortion.
Brown lenses are sometimes recommended for people with near-sightedness, or myopia. They may bring comfort to your eyes in sunny conditions or help you better see contrast.
For those with hyperopia (far-sightedness), a gray tint may be beneficial. Gray lenses may also help your eyes deal with fatigue. Gray lenses also make good all-purpose sunglasses.
Blue or Purple
Said to enhance color perception, blue or purple lenses might be worn indoors or outdoors and offer some protection from highly reflective surfaces, like water, glass or snow. Blue lenses are said to be beneficial in foggy weather.
If you’re going out to play golf or tennis in the sunshine, green lenses may help reduce eye strain by filtering the blue and UV rays.
Rose-colored glasses can improve depth perception and detail. Some precision-tinted migraine glasses have a rosy/gray color to them that can look green when exposed to light, like Axon Optics migraine glasses. But not just any rosy coating will do – Axon Optics is powered by Avulux® migraine lenses which are specifically designed to filter certain wavelengths of light (including the light from fluorescent fixtures) that have been shown to trigger migraines.
Do Tinted Glasses Have Side Effects?
There are no known side effects resulting directly from using tinted eyeglasses. Some people might go through an adjustment period at first, and some might find their color perception seems a little off. The color perception issue isn’t too common, and is more likely to affect you if you already have challenges with color perception or other trouble with your vision. Tints that block certain light wavelengths might make some images seem brighter or sharper, but most people who encounter this adjust within days or weeks at the longest.
Can I Wear Tinted Eyeglasses Indoors?
You’ve probably figured out by now that yes, you can wear tinted eyeglasses indoors. You’ll probably find many tinted lens options made specifically for indoor use. But when it comes to sunglasses with colored tints, you’re much better off reserving these for outdoor use, so you don’t dark-adapt your eyes – which is probably the last thing you want.
Can I Get Tinted Glasses With My Prescription?
Many optical shops offer tinted lenses as an option when you order your glasses. Depending on your vision and any other eye health issues you may have, your eye doctor may even recommend a certain tint for you. The coating might cost you a little extra, but could be worth looking into if you’re in need of certain benefits.
Axon Optics with Avulux lenses can be made in your prescription. They are designed to filter harmful wavelengths of light and, with a healthy lifestyle, may help those living with migraine. You can also buy our migraine glasses without a prescription if you prefer to wear your regular contact lenses.
Should I Try Tinted Lenses?
If you want to use tinted lenses for style, it’s entirely a personal choice. If you’re looking to get certain benefits from them, the best thing to do is speak to your eye care provider. If you have a specific color or use in mind for tinted lenses, bring this up at your next appointment. Discuss any challenges you’re having with your vision, and whether a specific tint might be beneficial. Your eye doctor or migraine specialist can help you decide whether tinted glasses are right for you.
Source: Katz BJ, Digre KB. Diagnosis, pathophysiology, and treatment of photophobia. Surv Ophthalmol. 2016;61:466-7.Source: Main A, Dowson A, Gross M. Photophobia and phonophobia in migraineurs between attacks. Headache. 1997;37(8):492-495. doi:10.1046/j.1526-4610.1997.3708492.x
Source: Sumeer S, Downie LE, Anderson AJ. Do blue-blocking lenses reduce eye strain from extended screen time? A double-masked, randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Ophthalmology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajo.2021.02.010
Source: Hwang AD, Merve TB, Peli E. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019;137(10):1147-1153. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.2893