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A New Lens: Biodegradable Blue Light Glasses

Of the numerous changes that have come with the 2020 pandemic, working from home has triggered a ripple effect of lifestyle adjustments, with have come with a set of new challenges. Without a doubt, the most striking and noticeable change is the dramatic increase in the amount of time my eyes are on a screen. While working on a device is almost second nature, as I have been working on computers since I was 11, both for school and work, its increase and necessity to survive have added to more headaches and fatigue.

When working in the office, I at least had socializing with coworkers, walking to conference rooms, walking to grab lunch, eating together, and in-person meetings. Now, all of those moments in between screen time, the after-work socializing, have been replaced with more screen time by way of virtual meetings, social media, and video calls.

My screen time is up, since pre-pandemic, no doubt. I look at a screen (computer and phone combined) more than I’d like to admit. I’d say on average from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed there are probably just 30 to 60 minutes that I’m not looking at a screen, on a good day. That’s about 15 hours of screen time.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this amount for me or the average amount for the majority of the public is going to decrease any time soon given the ambiguous state of returning to “normal”. There is a lot we can’t control right now, so I’ve been working on things I can control. Right now that is blocking blue light from the screen.

For those of you that turned down their screen brightness, but are still getting headaches and rubbing your eyes, I feel you and so does dermatologist, Dr. Howard Murad. In a HarpersBazaar magazine article published in early September, Murad states the effects of blue light on our skin and eyes. “Spending four eight-hour workdays in front of a computer exposes you to the same amount of energy as 20 minutes in the mid-day sun. Seven minutes of sun exposure at 1 pm is powerful enough to induce immediate tanning”. If that is what blue light does to our skin, just imagine what it is doing to our eyes and brain. Blue light disrupts our circadian rhythm, affecting melatonin production, the hormone associated with regulating our sleep patterns. Exposing ourselves to artificial blue light in the evening or in higher amounts overall, confuses our brain, skin cells, and eyes to think it's daytime by boosting the stress hormone cortisol, impairing the nighttime repair process. The phrase blue-light comes from the intense, potent, peak of day-light (the rich blue sky light-hence the name) that is even more powerful than UVA and UVB rays. Such intensities have driven the glasses market to create blue light lens glasses that block out these blue lights from penetrating our eyes for the extended hours at computers or screens. The trend is on the rise and expected to keep growing.

In July, a press release by MarketWatch states, “The global Blue Light Blocking Glasses market is valued at 22 million USD in 2020 and is expected to reach 38 million USD by the end of 2026, growing at a CAGR of 8.0% during 2021-2026.” It is great to see that the industry of blue light protection is growing, but the material make up is plastic, difficult to recycle, we will see a growth in plastic waste as well.

That same month I thought, ok I’ve got screen fatigue, I’ll give these blue light glasses a go, but is there a more eco-friendly, sustainable, non-plastic option out there? The answer: yes. In fact, there are several options. I heard about Pela Vision glasses just around the same time. Pela created a biodegradable phone case a few years ago, that I’m in love with. The idea that once I inevitably upgrade to a new phone or the most likely scenario -it gets lost at a concert... the case will degrade back into the earth. How cool is that? In June 2020, Pela decided to apply that same logic to sunglasses and blue-light blocking glasses. The frame is unique in that it's multi-purpose: the lens’ can pop in and out to switch between sunglasses or blue light blocking. Regardless if its sunglasses or blue light lens’, all of it and all of it will decompose back into the earth. That is about as sustainable as it gets.

I spoke with Pela’s PR manager, Caite St. Jacques, and she let me know just how powerful and eco-friendly these glasses are, “Pela Vision’s Blue Light Filtering Lenses filter out more than 40% of light waves from the harmful blue spectrum (between 400 and 460nm) that our screens emit.” The Canadian based company admits, “We know you won’t stop scrolling Instagram, but at least blue light lenses can offer your eyes some protection.” The glasses are trendy, stylish, and you can hide those dark circles during your zoom call. They

make the glasses in men and women so everyone has the opportunity to style up sustainably.

Only 7% of US plastic is recycled, which means a huge majority of traditional, plastic glasses likely end up in landfills or worse the ocean, turning into microplastic (if it isn’t already swallowed by a sea creature). In addition, developing nations incinerate most of their plastic, adding even more plastic toxins to our biosphere. June, Pela’s CEO, Matt Bertulli stated, “Conventional sunglasses frames are often made out of plastic and a combination of materials including metal making it difficult to collect and recycle and end up in landfills taking hundreds of years to break down.

With Pela Vision, customers can rest assured knowing they are protecting the planet with their purchase. When it comes time to toss them out, everything including the lenses will biodegrade much faster as compared to regular plastic sunglasses, and not harm the earth.”

Pela Vision is a great option for a product that is safe, stylish, trendy, and a good example of sustainability being sexy. I love my glasses. I have the Bonito Sand which appears to change from brown to a purple/pink depending on the lighting, which is fun. Pela has the backing of Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and Martha Stewart. Additionally, they are a Certified B Corporation, Climate Neutral Certified, and a member of 1% For The Planet. Whenever I wear my Pela Vision glasses I know I’m not only protecting my eyes but and protecting our planet’s future as well and that is a win-win in my eyes.

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