Equipped with lenses specially designed to allow long wave blue light to pass through, these new "Happy Lens" sunglasses from Spy claim to boost your mood, alertness and help you sleep better at night. Do they work?
Those are some tall claims from a simple pair of sunglasses. And, I was skeptical of them. Benefits like mood and alertness are difficult to quantify or measure and, along with aiding your circadian rhythm, are subject to a vast number of variables which would pollute any scientific testing on our part.
But, the science behind Spy's Happy Lens does appear to be sound and confirmed by research. A study published by the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, also published on the US National Library of Medicine studied the effects of different light colors on 94 office workers over four week periods. The subjects reported improved mood, performance and concentration and improvements to their ability to fall asleep and the subsequent quality of that sleep. They also reported diminished irritability and eye fatigue. The study concluded, "Exposure to blue-enriched white light during daytime work hours improves subjective alertness, performance and evening fatigue."
Spy's lenses work by blocking the typical ultraviolet and short wave blue radiation that can harm your eyes while allowing the beneficial long wave blue light through. The "Happy Lens" is available across a wide range of sunglass models and includes polarization.
I've been wearing the Discord glasses for about two months now and can report that they noticeably boost contrast and color. The polarized effect works great outdoors, where it helps to cut glare. It also eliminates some reflection on water, allowing you to see into the ocean, rivers or lakes a little better. It's less ideal for operating vehicles or machines, where it can make it difficult to see some LCD displays and similar. This is most noticeable with gas pumps; the first time I filled up while wearing these I was convinced the pump was broken as the display appeared to be blank. You can still see your smartphone screen, unaffected.
As for the subjective benefits to mood, alertness and fatigue? Well, I'm a little embarrassed to say it, but I'm a Happy Lens believer. Those who know me will also know that I'm a cynical bastard, but wearing these around, I sometimes catch myself thinking happy thoughts. Who am I?!
Wearing the glasses, you feel like your eyes are more open than with typical sunglasses and I've experienced none of the typical sore eyes after a full day out in the sun.
Those benefits should make the Happy Lens applicable to virtually anyone, but they'll be particularly good for those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, where the blue light should help enhance the diminished exposure to sunlight during the short periods of winter days where you can find some.
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