If you’ve ever been in bed with a migraine, you know what a literal and metaphorical headache can be. (I’ve suffered from migraines on and off since high school and have prescription medications for when they hit.) An estimated 52 percent of the world’s population suffers from active headache disorders, according to a 2022 analysis published in The Headache and Pain Diary – and they’ll try anything from Botox to acupuncture to daith piercings for pain relief.
Therabody’s new SmartGoggles offer a less invasive solution. This high-tech eye mask (from the company that popularized percussion therapy via massage guns) combines massage, heat, and vibrations to soothe headaches and reduce facial tension.
Massage gun maker Therabody recently launched SmartGoggles, a high-tech eye mask designed to help relieve facial tension, eyestrain and headaches through features including heat, vibration and massage. The devices also pair with an app to provide relaxing audio content and track relaxation results.
It’s not just people with migraines who can benefit: The average American spends more than 7 hours staring at a screen every day, according to data from DataReportal. Just two continuous hours of screen time puts you at risk for eye strain and dryness, blurred vision and headaches, according to the American Optometric Association.
Since I am predisposed to migraines Y I spend an embarrassing amount of time looking at my computer and phone all day, I was curious to see if the SmartGoggles would be enough to prevent headaches and alleviate some screen-induced eyestrain. This is what I found after trying them for a week.
What we liked about Therabody SmartGoggles
They are portable and foldable.
At first glance, SmartGoggles look like a cross between a sleep mask and a virtual reality headset. I didn’t have a trip planned while testing these, but I can imagine they stow nicely inside a suitcase or carry-on to deal with travel-induced headaches – they measure 7.9 inches by 3.5 inches when open, but they do fold up up to 5.5 inches by 3.9 inches. Plus, they use a USB-C charging cable (same as my GoPro and MacBook), which saves me having to travel with another wire. In general, they are quite comfortable, with a padded interior and an adjustable head strap. I felt quite a bit of extra pressure around my cheekbones even when the device was not on. in massage mode; they weigh a full pound, which is a lot to have resting on your face.
Once the glasses are on, there are three modes you can choose from: Focus, Sleep, and SmartRelax. SmartRelax is the most advanced, as it is powered by SmartSense, a proprietary technology that uses your biometric data (read: your heart rate) to optimize your experience. During a session, a small sensor inside the glasses detects your heart rate and uses it to create a personalized vibration pattern to help you relax more quickly.
During a five-minute session, my heart rate dropped from 61 beats per minute to 54. The other two modes use a combination of heat, vibration, and massage to help you focus more or prepare for sleep. In the TheraMind section of the associated app, there are additional preset programs, such as “Settle Into Sleep,” “Midday Motivation,” and “Find Your Zen” that include guided meditation (I found I was more relaxed without any audio at all).
What We Didn’t Like About Therabody SmartGoggles
Like most Therabody devices, SmartGoggles connect via Bluetooth to the app, where you can choose your program, adjust heat and vibration levels, and set your session time between five and 30 minutes. But there are controls on the glasses, too: just two small buttons above the left eyebrow that control heat and vibration. I found those buttons completely useless, because even when I could find the correct button while the glasses were on my face, I still had to look at the app to see what exactly had changed. Maybe that just takes a little more practice, but the whole point of using them, at least for me, was to avoid extra screen time, so I preferred to set everything up on my phone and then leave it at that. session lasted.
I did several sessions in all three preset modes and found that they all felt quite similar. During each, the device massages the area around your eye sockets, expanding and contracting to target certain pressure points (think: your temples, where your brows frown). I didn’t feel noticeably more alert after a Focus session, nor drowsier after a Sleep session; I felt equally more relaxed after each one (not a bad thing!). In general, I would have actually welcomed more Pressure. The device squeezed my temples harder, but when I get migraines, they almost always occur in the inner corner of my right eyebrow. I had a headache start one day during testing, I actually had to push down on the center of the device to get even a bit of the pressure I craved. The headache didn’t get worse, but it didn’t go away either.
I’m not sure I see SmartGoggles as a cure for future migraines, but that doesn’t negate the benefits they impart. I felt noticeably more relaxed each time I used them, whether it was from the massage, heat, and vibrations or simply forcing myself away from a screen for up to half an hour. I’m a big believer in the placebo effect, and I think just the ritual of doing this once a day could play a big role in relieving stress (physical or otherwise) for many people, and make this a regular part of it. A pre-bedtime routine could be a great way to unwind. For anyone staring at a screen all day or looking for complementary headache treatments, Therabody SmartGoggles could be a worthwhile investment.