Wearing tinted glasses has been a bit of a fad lately — not necessarily sunglasses, but tinted eyeglasses meant for indoors. While some people wear them to look cool, tinted glasses can also serve other purposes. Some help light sensitive people manage the impact of light. Other tinted lenses are thought to help with other things like night driving or color perception.
In this article, we’ll talk more specifically about what tinted glasses are used for. We’ll fill you in on which lens 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 are often used for light sensitivity. Everyone is sensitive to light at a certain point (which is why nobody looks directly at the sun). However, some people are hypersensitive to it — so sensitive that even typical levels of light (indoors or out) make it difficult to function.
Indeed, studies show that certain wavelengths of light on the visible spectrum tend to be problematic for these people. While blue, amber, and red light are the most troublesome, there’s also a specific band of green light shown to be soothing and helpful.
So the bottom line is that if you’re light sensitive, you really want tinted lenses that block the blue, amber, and red light, but let in the green.
Fortunately, Avulux® Migraine and Light Sensitivity Lenses available from Axon Optics do just that. They absorb up to 97% of the harmful light and let 70% of the green light pass through, helping sensitive people manage the impact of light.
Some light sensitive people tend to retreat to a dark room, keep the blinds closed, or even wear sunglasses to get some relief. But this can adapt eyes to the dark and actually make them more light sensitive. Simply putting on a pair of specially-tinted lenses is a much better option.
Designed by neuro-ophthalmology and optics researchers, Avulux lenses have a neutral tint that isn't created for the sake of color, but for clinical effectiveness.
Those wavelengths that trigger discomfort for people with light sensitivity 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, as we mentioned before, this can actually make the problem worse.
It sounds crazy, but even migraine sufferers who are blind can be light sensitive. Research has revealed that the optic nerve plays a major role in transmitting signals that trigger pain. The optic nerve pain pathway was discovered as this study showed that 6 blind migraine sufferers, without any light perception at all (due to optic nerve damage or removal), were unaffected by light during their migraine attacks.
In studies, specially-tinted lenses like the Avulux lens have been shown to help people with migraine by filtering out the bothersome types of light.
If you love science and want to read even more studies about light sensitivity and migraine, you can find them here.
Fluorescent Light Sensitivity
Even people who aren’t particularly light sensitive may find fluorescent lights bothersome. Fluorescent fixtures actually emit higher levels of the light wavelengths known to be bothersome. And 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 has an imperceptible flicker, and is said to be related to symptoms like burning, watery, sore, or itchy eyes, and eye strain, increased light sensitivity, trouble concentrating, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and headaches.
Tinted eyewear has been studied for its potential in managing the effects of fluorescent lighting, but there are other ways to lessen your exposure to this kind of light. Talk to your eye care professional about what’s best for you.
Limited evidence suggests certain colors of tinted lenses could improve sleep quality, especially for people who spend a lot of time in front of electronic devices before bed.
The blue light emitted by electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops can disrupt the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which can make getting to sleep and staying asleep more difficult. Tinted lenses that filter out blue light may help to reduce the amount of blue light that reaches your eyes, promoting melatonin production and leading to better sleep.
That said, it's important to practice good sleep hygiene habits such as avoiding caffeine, creating a dark and quiet sleeping environment, and keeping a consistent bedtime routine. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor for advice.
Tinted lenses may offer some level of UV protection. Generally, lenses designed to block blue light are amber or orange, and the same tint may offer some UV protection. Gray, brown, green, or dark blue lenses are also used.
Check the label on any glasses you intend to use as sunglasses or talk to your optometrist about protecting your eyes from UV light. Whatever color the lenses are, choose a pair of sunglasses or tinted glasses that are labeled as offering 100% UV protection.
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 could always experiment with different tints to see if they work for you. With that in mind, here are some of the popular colors of tinted glasses and what they might be used for.
Yellow or Orange
Yellow tints are said to be helpful for moderate to low-level lighting conditions like night driving. Surroundings may look brighter. Their contrast-enhancing property makes yellow glasses great for night driving or sports. There may be some color distortion. Some use yellow or amber lenses as blue-blocking glasses in an effort to sleep better at night.
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 linked to migraine attacks.
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?
Yes, you probably can. Most optical shops offer the option of adding a tint to your prescription lenses. 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.
What Color Tint Is Best for Light Sensitivity?
There is no best color tint for light sensitivity. What matters is the type of light the lenses filter, not their outward appearance. Currently, the only clinically proven lenses for migraine and light sensitivity are Avulux lenses.
Axon Optics powered by Avulux lenses block up to 97% of the harmful light linked to migraine attacks. Plus, it lets in over 70% of green light, which has been shown to be soothing.
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. For light sensitivity and migraine, give Axon Optics powered by Avulux lenses a try. They come with a 60-day guarantee, and you can even pay over time.
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.
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Source: Hwang AD, Merve TB, Peli E. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019;137(10):1147-1153. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.2893