Light therapy glasses are a seriously underrated biohacking health tool. But which one is really worth buying?

In this guide, we’ll go over all the scientific data we’ve gathered on light therapy glasses so you can make an informed decision on which one is right for you.

Testing the Light Therapy Glasses

We’ve reviewed the AYO+, Luminette 3, Pegasi 2, Propeaq, and Re-Timer glasses, as well as the Luminette Drive, and in this section, we’ll be going over the statistics from each of these in order to determine some winners!

Our Testing Methodology

In order to test and compare all of the light therapy glasses on the market we built our own mannequin head! We call him Henry.

front view of ayo light therapy glasses on test mannequin head
This is Henry.

Henry is equipped with a lab-grade photo-spectrometer, which means we are able to very accurately measure the light coming from these glasses right where the eye is!

Cool, I know.

So what did we test for?

Lux or Brightness

The first thing you might be wondering is, just how bright are these things?

If you’ve looked into SAD lamps at all you’ve probably heard of lux, which is basically just how bright a light source is at your eyes.

It’s often said that a light therapy device must hit 10,000 lux to be effective, but this is highly misleading and lux isn’t even the best metric to use.

With that being said however, how do our glasses stack up to each other?

Lux comparison bar graph

As you can see, the Luminette 3 is far brighter than all the other glasses, especially on its medium and high settings. This is because the Luminette 3 uses white light unlike all of the other glasses.

This isn’t necessarily a good thing though! While the Luminette 3 is one of the most effective pairs we’ve tested (on its highest setting) some people do report it being a bit too bright.

As you’ll see, the AYO and Drive devices emit a pretty low lux level compared to the Luminette 3, so why do we recommend them?

This is where it becomes important to use a better metric than lux, one that’s a bit more focused on the circadian system, so what is that?

Circadian Light

Certain parts of the visible light spectrum are more effective at activating the IPRGCs (intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells) in your eyes.

While this is an oversimplification, these are the cells that tell the body that it’s daytime.

To better tell which light sources activate the human circadian system, the LHRC has developed a new algorithmic calculation that they call Circadian Light.

Using their Circadian Stimulus Calculator, we’re able to compare the circadian light from each of our glasses to see which ones are more effective.

Circadian Light comparison bar graph

Even though the AYO only emits up to 150 lux, it’s on par with the Luminette 3 on its highest setting!

How is this so? Because the AYO emits blue light instead of white light, and blue light is far more effective at activating the circadian system in the eyes than any other color of light.

This is why the AYO is one of our favorites, but because it’s so effective at such a low lux output, making it very visually comfortable.

You might be thinking, okay, but what does circadian light even mean? Let’s translate this metric into a usable format…

How Effective Are Light Therapy Glasses

The CS calculator I mentioned before has one more feature! It tells us how long we should be exposed to a light source before we hit their recommended minimum dose of circadian-stimulating light.

Let’s take a look at how much time each device will take:

Minutes to Minimum Dose comparison bar graph

You can see that the Propeaq and Pegasi 2 are just not even close to effective. And it’s not really worth using the Luminette 3 on its lowest setting.

I’ve also decided that even though the Re-Timer is technically effective, its light source and form factor are annoying, which you can read about in our review if you’d like, and the AYO and Luminette 3 are both better anyway.

Let’s compare our two favorites so you can decide which one might be best for you!

AYO vs Luminette 3

These are both effective, but which one should you get?

Physical Comfort and Form Factor

The AYO wins here. It’s much lighter at 32g while the Luminette 3 weighs around 53g. The overall weight of the AYO is also more evenly distributed while the Luminette is more front-heavy.

ayo versus luminette side view

This means that I can literally whip my head around as hard as I can with the AYOs on, and they don’t budge. But the Luminette comes flying off.

So if you’re hoping to do some early morning running or exercise the AYO is the best choice.

Visual Comfort

Because of its color, the AYO is much dimmer and thus it’s far more visually comfortable.

Since the AYO is a lot dimmer, it’s also easier to see your surroundings in a dimly lit environment, while the Luminette will blind you even on its lowest setting if there aren’t other lights on in the room.

Some people find the Luminette to be too bright, some on the other hand might actually prefer that feeling.

If you have photosensitivity at all, I’d go with the AYO.

Effectiveness

The newer AYO+ is a bit more effective than the Luminette 3 on it’s highest setting according to its circadian light output.

spectral power distribution graph of ayo light therapy glasses
AYO
spectral power distribution graph of the luminette 3 light therapy glasses
Luminette 3

If you’re looking for a more natural-feeling light source, however, the Luminette 3 would be better.

Prescription Glasses

I found that both the AYO and Luminette worked quite well with glasses. The nose pieces do push the glasses out just a bit so it’s not perfect but it’ll do for the 30 minutes or so you’re using them.

Keep in mind that both the AYO and Luminette rely on blue light to be effective, so any blue light blocking film or tint to your glasses will reduce their effectiveness!

Carrying Cases

Both cases are about the same size and are going to be useful for travel.

luminette case versus ayo case side view
Left: Luminette – Right: AYO

The AYO case is definitely more heavy-duty and has a little room inside for a USB cable and a small charging brick.

The Luminette case is a little softer and has a bit more room inside for accessories if you need them.

The Best Light Therapy Glasses

If you’d like to learn a little bit more about our favorite picks, that’s what this section is for!

1. AYO – Best Overall

The AYO is our current favorite for its low lux, high circadian light output, and it’s lightweight comfortable form factor.

The AYO emits a diffuse narrowband blue light at 463nm, which is what makes it such an effective light therapy device.

spectral power distribution graph of ayo light therapy glasses
The light coming from the AYO+ glasses.

The AYO turns on automatically when opened and offers three brightness settings; low, medium, and high.

The new AYO+ also lets you turn on a red light mode which projects about 40 µW/cm² of 655nm light into your eyes following a light session!

red light spectral power distribution graph from the ayo+

AYO has done their homework, as it turns out that early morning red light therapy to the eyes for only a few minutes has been shown in multiple studies now to improve eyesight!

Here’s one study that used only 8 µW/cm² of 670nm light, and even then they saw improvements in mitochondrial function.

Another reason to grab a pair of these!

AYO Light Therapy Glasses

ayo light therapy glasses product photo

Pros

  • Provides high circadian activation with low lux
  • Very lightweight and comfortable
  • The new red light mode is innovative and useful
  • 60-day money-back guarantee
  • The carrying case is very nice!

Cons

  • The app is being worked on but not up to its full potential.

2. Luminette 3 – Most Natural

If you’re looking for an effective and bright pair of light therapy glasses, look no further than the Luminette 3!

The Luminette 3 utilizes a bright blue-enriched white light to wake you up:

spectral power distribution graph of the luminette 3 light therapy glasses
The light coming from the Luminette 3 glasses.

When placed correctly, the refractive hologram places a rainbow of light across your eyes, allowing the bulk of the white light to reflect off of your cheeks.

luminette light shining on eyes and cheeks

This hologram system helps to cut down on the brightness of the Luminette, it’s still quite bright, however!

To use the Luminette 3, you’ll need to adjust the nose piece until the blue band of the rainbow shines across the bottom part of your eye.

After that, just press the power button to cycle through brightness settings and you’re good to go!

Luminette 3 Light Therapy Glasses

luminette light therapy glasses product photo

Pros

Cons

  • Emits Bluetooth radiation nonstop during use
  • Might be too bright for some

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3. Luminette Drive – Best Alternative

While it isn’t a pair of glasses, I thought to include the Luminette Drive on this list because it’s still technically an alternative to a stationary desk light therapy lamp.

If you don’t have time to sit down in front of a lamp in the morning and find yourself on the road a lot in the dark winter months, the Drive is an awesome and effective product well worth the investment.

To use the Drive, you just attach it to your visor and angle it so that it’s shining down on your eyes from above.

luminette drive attached to car visor

Luminette recommends that you change the brightness setting depending on your distance to the Drive:

  • Low: <10 cm (<4 in.)
  • Medium: 10 – 20 cm (4-8 in.)
  • High: >20 cm (>8 in.)

It does a good job of providing ample circadian light without being too glaring or distracting while driving on darker roads.

Luminette Drive

luminette drive light therapy product photo

Cons

  • May be too bright for some people
  • Can be distracting during dark early morning hours

Pros

  • Effective light therapy that can be used in any vehicle
  • Perfect for early-morning workers and truck drivers or anyone who needs to stay awake

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  • Learn More

Now check out our guide on 20 Ways to Align Your Circadian Rhythm for more tips on how to get better sleep!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How to Use Light Therapy Glasses

    To use light therapy glasses, you just need to put them on and turn them on for the recommended time.

    The time needed for an effective dose will depend on the brightness setting and device, but a typical session is anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes.

  2. Light Therapy Glasses vs Lamp

    Light therapy glasses work the same way as lamps do, in that they shine bright blue, green, or white light into your eyes.

    Glasses can be more effective than lamps because it’s easier to maintain an effective distance from the light source.

    If you’re looking for effective lamps, check out our light therapy lamp database!

  3. Are Light Therapy Glasses Safe?

    Yes, light therapy glasses are very safe to use. They don’t contain any UV light that could damage your eyes.

    Even the glasses that utilize blue light don’t contain any short wavelength light that could damage your eyes.

  4. Do Light Therapy Glasses Effective and Do They Work?

    Yes, light therapy glasses definitely work! Many of them have gone through clinical trial testing and have been shown to significantly reduce drowsiness, sleep phase disorders like insomnia, and things like winter depression and seasonal affective disorder.

    In fact, glasses can in some cases be more effective simply because the compliance rate is higher for some people, and you’re always at the effective range, unlike with a lamp that you may turn away from time and time again.

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