In Lights Out, Dr. Robert Casper introduces us to special glasses that help prevent disruptions in the sleep/wake cycle of night shift workers. The scientist with Mount Sinai Hospital's Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute tells us how these glasses work and where we can get them.
CBC: Do the glasses have a name?
Dr. Casper: We call them Zircs among ourselves (short for ZircLight, a Massachusetts-based corporation that is developing the eyewear technology).
CBC: How do the glasses work?
Dr. Casper: There are 19 to 20 layers of coatings applied to the lenses that block light wavelengths in the blue range between 450 and 480 nanometres. By filtering out that range of blue light that suppresses melatonin, the glasses prevent the Circadian rhythm from being shifted.
CBC: How effective have the glasses been based on the feedback and quantifiable data you've collected?
Dr. Casper: They prevent melatonin suppression and improve sleep and performance in night shift workers. The feedback we've received has been positive. People are happy to wear them. We've found that the glasses improved the duration of night sleep to 40 to 60 minutes and that their sleep efficiency has improved.
CBC: Where can the average consumer get a pair of these glasses?
Dr. Casper: They are not available yet. We are still developing the glasses and hopefully it will take three to six months to make them available. Some people may require to be fitted by an optometrist to make sure they look through the centre of the lens. When they are available, people can order them from their optometrist or opthamologist.
CBC: What are some other options consumers have to use the filters you've developed?
Dr. Casper: We are working on light bulbs and screen covers for LED tablets, phones and TV flat screens as well.
CBC: Is a prescription version in the works? Contact lens version?
Dr. Casper: Prescription lenses will be available to whatever prescription is required. They are not likely to be contacts. We can't make a soft lens with the coatings.