An ad for Gamer Advantage, a company that sold blue-light glasses, seen in March 2022 during a livestream video by BobDuckNWeave on Twitch.
The ad featured Bryan Reedy from Gamer Advantage, who spoke to camera and stated, “The reason this lens is so important and so special is because that [sic] it has been clinically proven to attack blue light at a very specific nanometre that our clinical trials have shown supressed melatonin”; and “We are the first clinically proven lens to stop the suppression of melatonin so you can get a better night’s rest; and sleep is the number one medicine, and has been since the beginning of time.”
The ad also included a clip of several people trying on glasses. A man stated, “You can take all the massages, the recovery, all of this stuff, but sleep is the basic foundation.”
IssueThe complainant, who understood that blue-light glasses were not scientifically proven to improve sleep quality, challenged whether the claims in the ad were misleading and could be substantiated.
Gamer Advantage LLC said that their lenses filtered the correct wavelength in order to achieve an increase in melatonin production. They said that melatonin production was an essential step in the sleep cycle and that it was well-documented that there was a link between suppressed melatonin and exposure to artificial light sources.
They submitted a Masters’ thesis, two scientific posters, a news article, and an ophthalmologist’s comments, which they said supported the claim that Gamer Advantage blue-light glasses were scientifically proven to improve sleep quality.
They also said that the claim “sleep is the number one medicine” was similar to saying “laughter is the number one medicine”.
The ASA acknowledged that light from artificial sources, particularly mobile phones, computer screens and tablet devices, emitted blue-violet light. However, we understood that there was little scientific evidence to prove that blue-light filtering lenses improved sleep quality.
As such, we considered that a substantive body of relevant evidence was needed to prove the claims, consisting of clinical trials conducted on humans that had been published and were peer-reviewed. However, when we assessed the evidence provided by Gamer Advantage, we considered that it did not meet the standard of evidence we required for the type of claims being made.
The first document was an unpublished Master’s thesis which was not peer-reviewed. The second was an unpublished scientific poster which was also not peer-reviewed, and stated that a causal relationship between melatonin level changes in response to wearing Gamer Advantage blue-light glasses could not be established. The other scientific poster was also unpublished and had a sample size of ten. The news article, which reported on a study presented at a scientific conference, featured in a scientific journal. We noted that the article did not definitively conclude that Gamer Advantage glasses improved sleep quality, and in any case we had not seen the actual study. We also considered that, in all of the evidence submitted, any sample sizes used or referred to were too small for results to be extrapolated to the wider population. Whilst we acknowledged the ophthalmologist’s comments, we considered that they did not constitute documentary evidence and as such could not take them under consideration.
Therefore, we considered that the evidence submitted was inadequate to support the claim that Gamer Advantage blue-light glasses were able to prevent a reduction in melatonin production, and thus, improve sleep quality. Because the evidence was not sufficient to establish a direct link between Gamer Advantage blue-light glasses and improved sleep quality, we concluded that the claims were misleading and had not been substantiated.
The ad breached CAP (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation.
Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product.
Objective claims must be backed by evidence, if relevant consisting of trials conducted on people. Substantiation will be assessed on the basis of the available scientific knowledge.
Medicinal or medical claims and indications may be made for a medicinal product that is licensed by the MHRA, VMD or under the auspices of the EMA, or for a CE-marked medical device. A medicinal claim is a claim that a product or its constituent(s) can be used with a view to making a medical diagnosis or can treat or prevent disease, including an injury, ailment or adverse condition, whether of body or mind, in human beings.
Secondary medicinal claims made for cosmetic products as defined in the appropriate European legislation must be backed by evidence. These are limited to any preventative action of the product and may not include claims to treat disease. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Gamer Advantage LLC not to make claims that their blue-light glasses could improve sleep quality in the absence of adequate substantiation.