Today, we’re looking at Swanwicks brand anti-glare, blue light blocking glasses. We tested the classic frames in tortoiseshell, and the Wayfarers in black (you can generally choose between tortoiseshell and black on most frames). As a matter of personal preference, I felt that the classic frames were a little small on my face, although admittedly, I’ve got a big melon. The Wayfarers, however, look smashing, if I say so myself, and fit perfectly.
About five or eight years ago you couldn't even find a product like this, but now the market is actually pretty flush with blue light blocking/anti-eye fatigue glasses. So much so that companies kind of need a gimmick or an angle to stand out these days, and Swanwick has two for their gaming glasses: a “cool factor” and a sleep aid angle.
Now, the sleep aid angle is a smart move and they lean into it. On Swanwick’s website they sell a magnesium spray that’s supposed to help you sleep, they have silk sleeping masks for sale, and of course, glasses. The glasses aid your sleep by supposedly blocking 99% of blue light. Blue light lowers your melatonin, and melatonin is the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle, so the sleep angle is sound. It’s the cool factor that is a bit of a miss for me.
On Swanwick’s website (or “Swannies” for short) they have all these celebrity testimonials and celebrity quotes from people like Terrell Owens and Arnold Schwarzenegger; basically quasi washed up celebrities telling me that I should buy the product. I know that recognition of any kind is important for branding (and being “cool”) but why would I listen to any of these people? Why would a retired wide-receiver be an expert on sleep, or need more than me? I wasn’t exactly biting on the celebrity pitch.
However, I like the other aspect of their “cool” factor, which is bringing back classic frames like Aviators, Wayfarers and more. The frames kind of bring you back to a Top Gun, “cool guy” mentality and I like it. Sure you’re a tech/gamer guy or girl, but you’re rocking aviators. Maybe you’re about to drop the controller, play a sweaty game of volleyball, then take to the skies and do a barrel roll, or even try a somersault. It makes sense to me.
In terms of construction, these are solidly built. They’re hefty without being heavy, the plastic is thick (and hypoallergenic), and you can really feel that they are quality. You can even bend the springs in all kinds of ways and it doesn't feel like they're going to snap. In short, these feel good in the hand, like a quality pair of glasses that will last should.
So, how exactly do they work for sleep? You're supposed to pop these on 90 minutes before you go to sleep, and that's about it. The glasses block blue light, so whether it's your iPad, a tablet, or playing video games on a TV, no matter what screen it is, it puts off blue light, and these glasses block it.
To give them a solid test, we used a sleep app that measures your REM sleep, allowing you to pinpoint when you fell asleep, how deep your sleep was, sleep quality overall, etc. For our test, we tried wearing these glasses 30, 60 and 90 minutes before bed and then went on with our normal routine, whether that was reading on a tablet, playing video games, watching TV, whatever.
Using the sleep app, we found that yes, it does appear that we are getting better REM sleep, and falling asleep faster while using these verses not using them. It did seem that 90 minutes was the ideal time out of the three we tried, but in all cases, our sleep was better when using these, period. In that respect the Swannies are solid.
The gripe that we have is unsurprisingly about the orange lenses. It’s hard to fault the company for using them, though, as without the orange lenses, it's (thus far) impossible to block 99% of blue light. Some of Swanwick’s competitors have clear(er) lenses , which look a lot cooler, but the level of blue light blocking suffers as a result.
The other problem with the orange lenses is that they wash out and tint color. After wearing these for a few minutes, your eyes will adjust and you’ll stop noticing how much the orange is saturating and tinting the world, but when you pull them off, you really notice just how orangey they make everything. After playing a videogame for an hour the other night (God Of War), I’d largely forgotten I was wearing them. When I took the glasses off, however, it was definitely a bummer to see how much I was missing out on in terms of vivid color.