Top RED & NIR Blocking Eyewear, Goggles, Sunglasses, and Safety Glasses Reviewed! - Eye Protection Guide Part 2
This blog review some commercially available blindfolds, goggles, glasses, and safety eye-wear from Amazon that we could test to see how well they work!
Our last blog we discussed how the fears about red or near-infrared causing cataracts or eye damage are likely blown out of context and proportion.
We presented that red and near-infrared, when used appropriately in low doses, is actually beneficial for the eyes!
Practical dangers still present:
I forgot to mention this interesting case study review, where they follow individuals who suffered eye damage from lasers (often red lasers)
One example was a young girl who stared into a 5mW (160mW/cm^2) red laser for 10 seconds in the right eye. She experienced no pain, but developed decreased vision in that eye. Over several months her vision seemed to return to normal. 
We know that LEDs are generally safer than lasers because they are noncoherent and divergent light, but we shouldn’t be pushing our luck.
So really it isn't necessarily the WAVELENGTH such as Red or NIR that is the danger, but the intensity and exposure is important too.
I still don’t wear safety glasses:
Knowing what I know, and knowing I have 3rd party tested panels that I can use safely and appropriately in conjunction with applicable safety standards – I never wear eye protection with my LED panels.
As the G.I. Joe say: “Knowing is half the battle.”
I also don’t want to miss out on these potential benefits, which are particularly important for me and my conditions.
- Slowing AMD 
Improving blood sugar regulation and reducing my risks of diabetic retinopathy. 
- I have skirted with being pre-diabetic in the past and felt my vision suffer at that time in my life. So I feel keeping red light therapy in my eyes is part of an important protocol to maintain my eye health.
Mood and energy enhancement.
- Using bright red lights in the morning is my “wake-up” light has been a game changer for energy during the day.
Circadian rhythms and sleep
- Similarly, using my bright red lights on my face and eyes in the mornings and daytime helps make sure I get good sleep at night! I avoid treating my eyes at night.
I think the eye and circadian entrainment benefits are some of the biggest “bang for your buck” benefits possibly obtained by LED red light therapy today. So don't let any fearmongers scare you away from these important benefits!
Wherever possible, I encourage responsible exposure of Red and NIR to the eyes, it could be as safe and simple as watching the Sunrise and Sunset!
Best Red and Near Infrared Eye Protection!
Now lets discuss some of the top glasses, goggles, and eye protection available!
I tested out the SAIDI BS360 light which is one of the highest-intensity lights available on Alibaba. It emits about 44mW/cm^2 at 6 inches away according to my SANWA laser power meter, and 152mW/cm^2 at 6 inches according to a Solar Power meter.
If you actually believe the lies from companies using solar power meters as true intensity, then you should always wear eye protection with panels that claim to be >100mW/cm^2!
I used my ThunderOptics spectrometer to test and show me the spectrum being blocked or reduced. This way I can "see" the whole spectrum being blocked quickly and compare them graphically.
Experimental setup for testing each type of Red and NIR eye protection.
Similar to how we test blue-blockers, we will be looking for either a significant % reduction in these Red/NIR wavelengths, or complete blocking!
*NOTE* These suggestions are only for standard LED panels on the market, not Lasers or medical equipment which you should always defer to the manufacturer's recommendation. We have no affiliation with these glasses makers and make no warranties or guarantees about quality or effectiveness.
100% Blocking Protection:
The SAIDI lights and our Beacon lights come with these soft rubber goggles. The generic tanning goggles with the little windows don't offer full protection (seen later). The closest equivalent I can find on Amazon looks like these ones.
Otherwise, the best "protection" is any fully opaque eyemask or blindfold. I tested this popular eye mask from Amazon and found it blocks practically all of RED and NIR.
We get a bit more NIR coming through the Tanning Goggles. And I found them to be very small and uncomfortable. I would say the soft rubber ones from above are more comfortable.
Because these tanning goggles are mostly designed for blocking UV/Blue light, they do allow a decent amount of Red/NIR through. But seemed to offer a good reduction overall.
So even though these don't block everything, they offer sufficient protection and you can keep your eyes open and comfortable!
Generic sunglasses and tinted safety glasses were unfortunately not offering much protection. They are designed for blocking UV and reducing some brightness from sunlight, but don't significantly reduce red or NIR.
I tested these Locs Mirrored Sunglasses, Rocknight Polarized Mirror Glasses, and the Crews BK312 Bearkat. Essentially this tells us that generic sunglasses won't offer much protection, although they might take a bit of the edge off the brightness.
I also included this disappointing IPL Safety Glasses in this category because although they advertise blocking 200nm to 2000nm range, they really only reduce some Red and almost no NIR.
Here are some Ultimate Hacks for you! I found some high-end laser glasses which truly block NIR, and allow through Red. So you could potentially get the benefits of Red light for your eyes, while ensuring zero NIR exposure! A big win!
Another hack is to use this green pair from FreeMascot which blocks all Red, but no near-infrared! This way you could get eye and body benefits from the Near-Infrared, without affecting your circadian rhythm.
These models offer some of the most potential for interesting "hacks" with your red light therapy, while still offering protection.
Hopefully these tips and eyewear testing help you find what you need to get safe and adequate red and near infrared light exposure from LED panels! I would say the most practical and affordable solution comes from the "significant blocking" category, I found the Gateway Safety the most comfortable for my big head, the welding glasses were way too small and queezed my temples.
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Muste JC, Kalur A, Iyer A, Valentim CCS, Singh RP. Photobiomodulation therapy in age-related macular degeneration. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2021 May 1;32(3):225-232. doi: 10.1097/ICU.0000000000000742. PMID: 33606405.
Tang J, Du Y, Lee CA, Talahalli R, Eells JT, Kern TS. Low-intensity far-red light inhibits early lesions that contribute to diabetic retinopathy: in vivo and in vitro. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 May 1;54(5):3681-90. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-11018. PMID: 23557732; PMCID: PMC3668802.