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.
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 light therapy at all you’ve probably heard of lux, which is basically just how bright a light source is.
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?
As you can see, the Luminette 3 is far brighter than all the other glasses, especially at its medium and high setting. 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 the most effective pair 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, which we’ll go over next!
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.
Even though the AYO emits less than 100 lux, it’s on par with the Luminette 3 on its medium 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 actually one of our favorites, not necessarily because it’s the most effective, as the Luminette 3 on high technically takes this crown, but because it’s so effective at such a low lux output, making it very 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:
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.
We’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 anyways.
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 in at around 53g. The overall weight of the AYO is also more evenly distributed while the Luminette is more front-heavy.
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.
The AYO is dimmer and almost equally as effective as the Luminette on its medium setting, but it’s also 10x dimmer than medium as well.
Since the AYO is a lot dimmer, it’s 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.
If you think you can handle the brighter output of the Luminette and are looking for the best of the two in terms of circadian stimulation, go with the Luminette.
However, if you’re not planning on using the Luminette on its highest setting I’d just go with the AYO as it’s just a bit better in most other regards.
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.
Both cases are about the same size and are going to be useful for travel.
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 that.
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.
In order to use the AYO you just open up them up and they turn on automatically and shut back off after 20 minutes. There’s only one brightness setting and it’s plenty, couldn’t be any simpler.
If you’re buying a light therapy device for your grandma, this is it!
AYO Light Therapy Glasses
2. Luminette 3 – Brightest
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:
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.
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
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 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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.