10 blue light filters to relieve computer eye strain, help you sleep better, etc.

Computer eye strain (eye fatigue, computer vision syndrome) has also been associated with blue light emitted by digital display devices. Computer eye strain is a big problem if you are blue light sensitive and you need to stare at screens a lot (my case). Moreover, emerging research suggests that there are other longer term health hazards, e.g. retina damage, sleep disorder, depression, etc. Blue light filters are a possible solution to blue light induced computer eye strain. This post attempts to answer the following questions: How does blue light cause computer eye strain? What blue light filter options are there? How effectively do they filter blue light? Where can you get them?


DisclaimerThis is a summary of a non-expert’s (me) research on blue light and blue light filter effectiveness in relieving computer eye strain. I am more sensitive to blue light – hence my research on blue light and blue light filters. I hope this overview helps you in your research. If you discover or already know something different to what is said below, please, do write about it in comments for the benefit of other readers.

Disclosure: I would like you to know that I earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you use some of the links below to purchase a product. If you wish to support GLARminY, use the links containing text: Disclosure: commission link or use this link (Disclosure: commission link) to shop on Amazon at any other time.


 

What causes eye strain

Intense use of the eyes is the cause of eye strain in a person with normal vision. Activities that likely cause eye strain are extended periods of driving, reading, writing, sewing, computer use… Eye strain may be worsened when using the eyes intensely under certain conditions such as exposure to glare (contrast in brightness), or by straining to see in low light conditions. Eye strain may also be aggravated by some special condition such as greater sensitivity to light, glare sensitivity or blue light sensitivity.

Eye strain symptoms include one or more of the following: a sensation of strain in the area around or between the eyes, dry or red eyes, blurred vision, headaches, back pain, neck pain, and general fatigue.

Computer eye strain symptoms

 

Computer eye strain

If one were to look for the best commonly used device most likely to cause eye strain, computer is a likely winner.

computer eye strain results from heavy computer use

Computers require intense use of the eyes, often for extended periods of time. Moreover computer screens (most digital screens) are sources of light, they are prone to glare and reflections, and they emit High Energy Visible (HEV) blue light with high intensity (E-readers using E-Ink technology – not backlit – are an exception).

 

computer eye strain causes - blue light emissions by digital device

This is but one example. Blue light intensity may be lower or greater but id does tend to be greater in relation to longer wavelengths intensity when compared to natural light sources (sun, moon, fire). Source: PFO Global

 

How blue light causes computer eye strain

Visible light in the violet and blue areas of the spectrum (shorter wavelengths ~380-500nm) is not as easily focused as longer wavelengths due to greater scattering and aberrations. Moreover, these phenomena lead to glare disability and discomfort glare at lower light intensity levels (The visual effects of intraocular colored filters; 2012). When abundant (as in the case of digital displays) violet and blue light may reduce contrast making things appear hazy, glary and out of focus. Our eyes’ futile struggle to focus eventually causes computer eye strain. When violet and blue light is filtered out, contrast is improved, the eye finds it easier to see detail and computer eye strain is relieved (Contrast Is Enhanced by Yellow Lenses Because of Selective Reduction of Short-Wavelength Light; 2000).

 

Blue light sensitivity

Blue light sensitivity is to a great extent still an enigma. There are three types of photo receptors whose sensitivity peaks in the blue light area of the spectrum:

The ipRGCs were discovered relatively recently in 2002. More recent still is the discovery of the number of functions attributed to ipRGCs encompassing a range of sub-conscious and reflex light responses (Mammalian inner retinal photoreception; 2013). In addition to being photosensitive ipRGCs also receive and combine a signal from other photoreceptors (with different spectral sensitivities) to produce an integrated non-visual signal that is sent to our brain. The relative contribution of each photoreceptor to evoked responses is not fully understood (Measuring and using light in the melanopsin age; 2014).

The fact that research on the health benefits and hazards of blue light is in the early stages (Mammalian inner retinal photoreception; 2013) could be the reason for the disagreement on what specific frequency or frequencies of light to attenuate or increase (depending on the desired effect) and by how much. For example, each eyewear lens manufacturer has a different interpretation of blue light. Subsequently, the way they choose to manage blue light filtering to reduce computer eye strain and/or sleep disorder varies significantly. There is, however a general agreement, that the potentially dangerous wavelengths are in the range between ~400 and ~500nm, namely the violet/blue light range (although some reports do go as low as ~380nm – violet – and as high as ~550nm – green).

In addition blue light sensitivity tends to be importantly affected by one’s macular pigment optical density MPOD, which varies considerably from person to person – macular pigment is our intra-ocular blue light filter that may filter more or less blue light depending on its optical density (Enhancing performance while avoiding damage: A contribution of macular pigment; 2013).

 

Should you always try to block 100% of blue light

blue light – daylight spectrograms 1Blue light is not bad. People have always been exposed to blue light emitted by the Sun. Our body needs and uses blue light’s oscillating intensity (high during the day and low or none at night) to regulate various physiological processes and function properly.

Blue light has become a health hazard relatively recently, with the advent of artificial lighting which has prolonged the time of our daily exposure to blue light (The dark side of light at night: physiological, epidemiological, and ecological consequences; 2007). Ancient night light sources – fire/candlelight and even incandescent light bulbs – emit nearly no blue light (see below).

blue light hazard – oled – spectrograms by type of light source

Particularly disruptive has been the recent widespread adoption of digital screen devices backlit with Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) which emit blue light with particularly high intensity. The good news is that a new lighting technology called Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) is coming out. It is still expensive, but certain types of OLEDs may emit blue light of similarly low intensity as candles.

Therefore, most people should only worry about blue light exposure in the evenings (2-3 hours before bed time), when reduced blue light intensity should signal our bodies to start getting ready for the necessary sleep. The more blue light sensitive might also have to consider reducing blue light exposure in daytime to avoid other health hazards and/or blue light induced computer eye strain.

There is a subtle difference between blue light induced insomnia and eye strain. You can read about it in How to pick the best blue filter for your light sensitivity problem. You’ll learn about which wavelengths your blue light filter should absorb/block, by how much, how to compare bluelight filters, etc.

 

How can you know if your computer eye strain might be associated with blue light

It seems reasonable to assume that blue light sensitivity is also normally distributed. Although I haven’t found any information on this subject, it is possible to note – from the comments to blue light related articles, and by observing others  – that there are a few people who are particularly sensitive to blue light, other few who don’t seem to be affected much, and the majority somewhere in between these two extremes. If you are experiencing computer eye strain and you have already eliminated other possible causes, such as for example glare and reflections on your screen, you might be among the more light sensitive.

 

Use a free blue light filter app to check if you might be blue light sensitive

The post Are your eyes sensitive to light … or just blue light explains how you can do it.

 

How sensitive are you to blue light

To figure out just how sensitive you are to computer eye strain-causing blue light , you can try filtering greater and greater proportions of blue light until you feel relieved from computer eye strain. I recommend you to start with blue light filters that are free (for example start by installing a blue light filter app, then you can change your text and background color in addition to running the blue light filter app …).

 

The 10 blue light filters

Below you may find a list of blue light filters divided in two sections: software solutions and physical blue light filters. If you find the choices and the spectral transmission data information overwhelming consider reading first the post: How to pick the best blue filter for your light sensitivity problem.

A good software blue light filtering solution may provide superior viewing comfort than a physical filter by preserving contrast better. A physical blue light filter always reduces contrast. It also produces internal and surface reflections of light, even when it includes an anti reflective (AR) coating.

The blue light filter list includes only those products or tricks where some reference to how much blue light they filter is available – links to information sources are provided.

Note that if blue light is filtered (even slightly) the result is inevitably color distortion. The more blue light is filtered the more it affects color. Colors that get affected more are those with higher blue content.

 


(0) Improve your own, natural blue light filter: macular pigment and blue light filtering diet

The post Less light sensitivity, computer eye strain: BlueLight filtering diet summarizes my recent discovery of the research on macular pigment, its blue light filtering function and the huge intrapersonal variability in its blue light filtering capacity principally due to sub-optimal diet.

Since macular pigment is far superior than any other blue light filter on many accounts, I felt I should add it to this list.

See article on best eye supplements containing all three macular pigment carotenoids – lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin.

You may buy them at Amazon:  US/Canada-based readers (Disclosure: commission link)UK/EU-based readers (Disclosure: commission link).


 

Software blue light “filtering” solutions

Strictly speaking software solutions do not filter blue light. Instead they reduce screen’s blue light emissions by altering slightly the colors displayed by your digital screen, such that the colder colors – white, blue, green – are changed with warmer colors – yellow-ish, orange-ish, red-ish.

 

(1) Blue light filter apps

Preserving contrast is a very important feature/advantage of a blue light filtering app because low contrast reduces readability thus causing computer eye strain.

There are two different approaches used by blue light filtering apps: Color transform approach is superior because the alternative, transparent overlay, reduces contrast far more.

You may easily recognize which approach an app is using by looking at what it does to black color. Color transform leaves it unchanged because black has the lowest possible blue light content. Overlay approach, on the other hand, makes black look lighter (usually yellowish or reddish) thus reducing the contrast between black and other colors unnecessarily.

There are two blue light filter apps that use color transform approach:

  • f.lux – designed principally to help with blue light induced insomnia
  • Iris (commission link) – designed to prevent computer eye strain (and insomnia)

Essentially they both do the same thing – i.e. reduce the amount of blue light emitted by your screen. Therefore they may both be used for both eye strain and insomnia. However, there are some differences such that if your principal goal is to avoid computer eye strain you might find Iris more suitable. In terms of preventing insomnia they are very similar (for a full review see Best blue light filter apps for visual comfort: Iris & f.lux).

 

Iris’ (commission link) basic app, Iris Mini, is free. But it only lets you lower blue light emissions to the level equivalent to a correlated color temperature to 3400K. That is enough to get a feel for the app or if you just want to reduce blue light emissions of your screen as a preventive measure. However, if you are experiencing blue light induced computer eye strain or insomina you should probably get Iris Mini Pro ($2) or even Iris Pro ($10).

Iris is minimalistic and very easy to use.

One thing I like about Iris (as compared to f.lux) is its Manual setting that lets you set blue light filtering capacity of the app constant day and night.

The pre-set options of Correlated Color Temperature range from 1200K to 6500K (see below).

iris-mini-pro-blue-light-filtering-app-manual-mode

In addition its hidden features allow you to set any correlated color temperature you want all the way down to zero (0) K.

Another very useful option might be the invert feature, which inverts all the colors on your screen.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find spectral power distribution (SPD) of the different settings but Iris does seem able to lower blue light emissions as far as your screen will let you. Moreover SPD under different correlated color temperature settings are probably similar to those of f.lux (see below).

Iris is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is also available for Android (but it uses transparent overlay approach, not color transform :(.


 

f.lux software is free and probably the best known and most used blue light filtering app. It may reduce blue light intensity by up to 94-98% (at 1200K lighting setting – source: f.luxometer).

f.lux’s blue light “filtering” capacity will depend principally on how you set it up. The reduction of blue light intensity is greater at lower lighting setting (monitor showing warmer colors) and vice versa. In the images below (borrowed from f.luxometer) the change in background color gives a rough idea of how much white color is distorted given the amount of blue light filtered.

Blue light filter app efficiency NO FLux Spectrographic analysis Blue light filter app efficiency FLux at 2700K Spectrographic analysis Blue light filter app efficiency FLux at 1200K Spectrographic analysis

Images: (1) F.lux filter OFF, (2) 2700K setting (70-80% of blue light filtered), and (3) 1200K setting (94-98% blue light filtered). If you use f.lux default settings your screen will look like image (1) during the day (no f.lux) and look closer to image (2) at the beginning/end of the day and at night. (Klick on images to see more detail).

f.lux is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iPhone/iPad and Android.

 

(2) Change text and background color to filter blue light

Changing text and especially background color is a free and easy DIY version of a (color transform) blue light filter app. Changing background and text color is a good option if you mostly read of the screen, edit text or work with spreadsheets. You can select the colors you want and control the contrast level, which may not be the best if you don’t know what you are doing.

Depending on your background/text color choice and digital screen model it may “filter” up to 75-95% of blue light as compared to black text on white background (estimates based on LEDMuseum and f.luxometer data).

Blue light intensity reduction cannot be 100% for two reasons. First, most monitors emit blue light even when displaying those colors that in theory do not contain blue light, i.e. red and black (see the spectrograms of screens displaying red – unfortunately I could not find black screen data, but assumed that its blue light content is similar/lower to that of a red screen). Second, when you change background color to black, you might filter blue light by close to 100%. But there remain some smaller, often bright, parts of the screen (icons, scroll bars, window borders, images …) the color of which one cannot change.

You may find detailed instructions on how to change background color and text color in Windows 7, Adobe Acrobat, Firefox, Chrome, etc… in the post 10 ways to change background color and reduce screen brightness. Windows 10 users see this post.

Choosing background color well is key to reducing blue light emissions of your digital screen. The post Background color least likely to cause eye strain his post might help you find your ideal color.

If necessary you can filter even more blue light by changing background/text colors and running a blue light filter app simultaneously – section (1) above. Both blue light “filters” together should enable you to filter close to 100% of blue light.

 

Physical blue light filters

As commented, a major drawback to physical blue light filters is that they always reduce contrast, however, this doesn’t seem to bother everyone. Contrast reduction is significantly lower with filters/lenses that have an Anti Reflective (AR) coating.

Best blue light filtering eye glasses may be the most effective solution to blue light induced eye strain for those who would like to filter not only blue light from their digital screens, but also blue light from other light sources, for example harsh office lighting.

Blue light filtering capacity of physical filters depends principally on filter’s tint color and its darkness. The most common blue light filtering tints are yellow (amber), orange and red. Red tinted filters block all blue and also some green light (up to ~550nm) but seem not to be used/recommended as blue light filters due to the lowest overall light transmission (~20-25%) and greatest color distortion. Filters tinted yellow block the least blue light (frequencies up to ~400-450nm) but provide greatest overall light transmission (~90-96%). Orange filters are somewhere in between. They may filter all blue light up to ~500-550nm with ~30-69% overall light transmission. Sources: Cocoons Eyeware, Uvex (pdf: 798KB), Rosco, BPI, and f.luxometer. (If interested you can experiment with different filter tints to see effects on blue light filtering capacity and overall light transmission here).

I recommend you check out vendor’s return policy before ordering a blue light filter you haven’t used before. You can’t really know if it will work until you try it.

 

(3) Tinted protective glasses as a blue light filter

Tinted protective eyewear is a relatively cheap (under $10) and durable solution that may filter up to 100% of blue light. (It is not ideal for tasks that require fine vision, like reading, sowing, etc…, because they generally don’t have AR (anti-reflective) coatings – hence they optically distort the image more than better/pricier eyewear and make your eyes strain more.

 

Uvex S1933X Skyper Safety Eyewear SCT-Orange UV Extreme Anti-Fog is an option if you would like to filter blue light completely (nearly) while maintaining a reasonable overall light transmission:

Uvex S1933X Skyper Safety Eyewear as Blue light filter SCT-Orange UV Extreme Anti-Fog

  • blue light filtered >= 98%
  • overall light transmission: 45%
  • UV Absorption >= 99.9%

Sources: Uvex (pdf: 798KB), f.luxometer

UVEX SCT-Orange blue light filter efficiency Spectral data by manufacturer

UVEX SCT-Orange blue light filter efficiency Spectral data by fluxometer

You may buy Uvex S1933X Skyper SCT-Orange Safety Eyewear from Amazon (Disclosure: commission link) – note Customer reviews – or eBay (no commission link).

I own these. I don’t use them to relieve computer eye strain – in my case that is taken care of by text/background settings and f.lux. Instead I wear them in the evenings (after 6/7pm) under natural (summer) or artificial lighting. They help me sleep better and longer. They are great.


 

Uvex S3522 Genesis X2 Safety Eyewear Amber Lens is an option if you would like very good general light transmission and sharper image due to reasonable blue light filtering capacity. User comments show that they are being used to relieve computer eyestrain and improve sleep:

Uvex S3522 Genesis X2 Safety Eyewear Amber Lens

  • blue light filtered ~55%
  • overall light transmission: 90%
  • UV Absorption >= 99.9%

Source: Uvex (pdf: 798KB)

UVEX Amber lens blue light filter efficiency Spectral data by manufacturer

You may purchase Uvex S3522 Genesis X2 Amber Lens Safety Eyewear from Amazon (Disclosure: commission link) or eBay (no commission link).

UVEX amber lens is available in various frame designs. If you would like to see other options use the above links to go to Amazon or E-bay and search UVEX AMBER LENS.


 

3M Yellow/Amber Lens Safety Glasses is another alternative with very good general light transmission and sharper image due to reasonable light filtering capacity:

3M Yellow-Amber Lens Safety Glasses

  • blue light filtered ~53%
  • overall light transmission: ~85-92%,
  • UV absorption: excellent

Sources: 3M, f.luxometer

3M Yellow-Amber Lens Safety Glasses blue light filter efficeincy Spectral data

You may purchase 3M Yellow-Amber Lens Safety Glasses from Amazon (Disclosure: commission link) or eBay (no commission link).

3M Yellow-Amber lens is available in different frame stiles. If you would like to find an alternative to the one displayed above use the above links to go to your favorite store and search 3M YELLOW-AMBER LENS SAFETY GLASSES.


 

(4) Special purpose blue light filtering eyewear

If you would like more style options and high quality, you might consider glasses made specifically to filter blue light. See also post Best blue blockers in style and light filter specs.

Axon Optics with FL-41 lens tint. FL-41 tint was designed initially for fluorescent light Axon Optics FL-41 lens tint blue light filter glassessensitivity and is known to alleviate Migraine and some Benign Essential Blepharospasm symptoms (Diagnosis, Pathophysiology, and Treatment of Photophobia; 2016). It takes out about 50% of blue light with minimal color distortion.

Disclosure: I’ve tested a pair, courtesy of Axon Optics: The glasses are very high quality. For me other blue light filters appear more suitable, which, however, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try FL-41 tint. I don’t suffer from Migraines nor Blepharospasm, and there is much praise by happy customers out there.

Axon Optics FL-41 indoor lens tint spectral transmission

  • Axon Optics FL-41 lens tint blue light filter contact lensblue light filtered: ~50% (indoor lens)
  • overall light transmission: ~60% (indoor lens), ~20% (outdoor)
  • UV absorption: 100%

Sources: Axon Optics (private communication), f.luxometer

You may purchase Axon Optics FL-41 glasses and contact lenses from Axon Optics (Disclosure: commission link). Several frame models available. You can also send in your own frame and have regular or prescription Rx FL-41 tint lenses fitted.


 

TheraSpecs is another internet company that offers quality FL-41 tint on their migraine relief and fluorescent light sensitivity eyeglasses (Diagnosis, Pathophysiology, and Treatment of Photophobia; 2016).

theraspecs-fl-41-indoor-lens-tint-spectral-transmission

  • blue light filtered: ~70% (indoor lens – estimate from the image)
  • overall light transmission: ~43% (indoor lens)
  • UV absorption: 100%

You can buy from TheraSpecs on Amazon (commission link) or directly: TheraSpecs online shop (non-commission link).


 

BluBlockers offer various designs. To filter blue light the lens should be orange-ish. Since BluBlockers are marketed as sunglasses they are characterized by relatively low overall light transmission.

BluBlocker Viper blue light filtering sunglasses

  • blue light filtered ~100%
  • overall light transmission: ~23%,
  • UV absorption: 100%

Sources: BluBlocker Corporation, f.luxometer

 

BluBlocker blue light filter efficiency Spectral data by fluxometer

You may purchase BluBlocker sunglasses from Amazon (Disclosure: commission link), eBay (no commission link) or directly from BluBlocker (no commission link) where you can also view all their models.


 

LowBlueLights.com is another company that offers various designs of blue light filtering glasses (and fitovers). LowBlueLights lenses offer the highest overall light transmission at 100% blue light filtering capacity!

LowBlueLights.com blue light filtering glassesLowBlueLights.com blue light filtering glasses

  • blue light filtered ~100%
  • overall light transmission: ~69%,
  • UV absorption: data not available; polycarbonate lens should absorb 100%

Sources: LowBlueLights.com, f.luxometer, CET

LowBlueLights.com blue light filter efficiency Spectral data by fluxometerdriver fatigue and eye strain_LowBlueLights spectral transmission curves

You may only purchase blue light filtering glasses directly from LowBlueLights.com (no commission link).


 

(5) Blue blocking screens and Color film as a blue light filter

[Update:] See this article for a comprehensive list of 13 brands of blue light screen filters/protectors/covers. The list includes spectral transmission specification (where available) and use recommendations.

Best blue light screen protectors

 

Another cheap (under $10) DIY version of a blue light filter is to put a color film (filter gel) over your digital screen. The proportion of blue light filtered depends on the color chosen. Yellow filters ~50% and provides high overall light transmission. Red filters near 100% of blue light, but allows much less light to go through. Orange is somewhere in between.

A color film can be taped to your screen’s frame (after being cut to the right size). If you tape it only at the top you will be able to flip it behind your screen when you don’t need to have blue light filtered.

 

Rosco theater/photography color film as a blue light filter

roscolux filter gels as blue light filter

Below you may find spectral data for four different tints of Rosco film, which may be of highest interest in terms of the tradeoff between blue light filtering capacity and overall light transmission (more colors/data at Rosco and Rosco’s myColor web app).

Rosco Medium Yellow R10 as blue light filter spectral data

Rosco Orange R23 as blue light filter spectral data

Rosco Deep Amber R22 as blue light filter spectral data

Rosco Fire R19 as blue light filter spectral data

Rosco’s filter gels may be purchased from Amazon (Disclosure: commission links):


 

(6) Special purpose computer eyewear as a blue light filter

Computer glasses are dedicated glasses for computer work or gaming. They cater to specific needs of computer use with the aim of preventing computer eye strain. Most computer glasses also filter blue light and are, hence, tinted yellow. Yellow lens provides high general light transmission level and low color distortion while filtering blue light at a reasonable level (sufficient for many people).

 

Gunnars (amber lenses): a reasonable blue light filter, excellent overall light transmission, and a wide variety of models:

Gunnar PPK blue light filter computer glasses

  • blue light filtered: ~ 50%
  • overall light transmission: 96%
  • UV absorption >= 99.9%

Sources: Zeiss/Gunnar, f.luxometer

Computer glasses GUNNARS iONiK lens tint by Carl Zeiss Vision blue light filtering capacity

Gunnar amber lens blue light filter efficiency Spectral data by manufacturer

You may purchase Gunnars from Amazon (Disclosure: commission link), eBay (no commission link) or directly from Gunnar Optiks (commission link).


 

EyeFatigue computer glasses (and reading glasses) have Anti-Reflective (AR) coating with slight green tint that blocks some blue light. They are more reasonably priced.

EyeFatigue computer glasses  EyeFatigue lens transmittance

  • blue light filtered: ~ 15% (estimate based on above graph)
  • overall visual light transmission: ~90% (estimate based on above graph)
  • UV absorption >= 99.9%

Sources: EyeFatigue (private communication)

You may purchase EyeFatigue computer glasses with diopter add from EyeFatigue (no commission link).


 

For more options of computer eyewear see the post on best blue blockers.

best-blue-blockers


 

Blue light filter solutions for those who wear prescription glasses

If you wear prescription eyeglasses you can use most of the blue light filters mentioned above. Tinted protective eyewear is an exception as it doesn’t fit over your prescription glasses, but there are fitover and clip-on flip-up alternatives which you can find below. You might also consider prescription computer glasses or prescription glasses with special, blue light filtering lenses.

 

(7) Prescription eyeglasses with blue light filtering lenses

Reading Glasses ETC offers seven different blue blocking tints and over 1000 frame styles.

In addition to the spectrograms (see images below) they disclose percentages of blue light filtered (over 400-550nm range!).

Their blue blocking lenses are available as plano/zero power, reading powers, or single vision prescription either with Anti-Reflective (AR) coating or tinted.

You may buy prescription glasses from Reading Glasses ETC (commission link). See also their budget blue blockers for $29 (commission link).

5% discount for 1st time customers – promo code: RGEMOJO5 with the link above. [update Oct 27, 2016]

 

You may also buy prescription blue light filtering glasses online from EyeFatigue (no commission link), or Gunnar Optiks (commission link) – see spectral transmission data in the previous section (6).


 

(8) Fitovers that filter blue light

Uvex fitovers with orange lens are an inexpensive (under $10) option if you would like to filter blue light completely while maintaining a reasonable overall light transmission:

Uvex Fit Over Safety Eyewear as Blue light filter SCT-Orange lens

  • blue light filtered >= 98%
  • overall light transmission: 45%
  • UV absorption >= 99.9%

Source: Uvex (pdf: 798KB), f.luxometer

 

UVEX SCT-Orange blue light filter efficiency Spectral data by manufacturer

UVEX SCT-Orange blue light filter efficiency Spectral data by fluxometer

You may buy Uvex Fit Over Orange Safety Eyewear from Amazon (Disclosure: commission link) or eBay (no commission link).


 

Cocoons fitovers with yellow (lemon) lens is an option if you would like to moderately filter blue light while maintaining a reasonable overall light transmission (available in various designs and sizes):

Cocoons fitovers yellow lens as blue light filter

  • blue light filtered 40% (100% up to 470nm)
  • overall light transmission: 86%
  • UV absorption: 100%

Source: Cocoons

You may buy these Cocoons fitovers with yellow (lemon) lens of various shapes and sizes (see sizing guide) from Amazon (Disclosure: commission link), eBay (no commission link) or Cocoons eyeware (no commission link).

Cocoons fitovers are available also with orange lens (blue light filtered 100% up to 520nm and overall light transmission 34%) – go to your favorite store through the links above and search COCOONS LOW VISION FITOVERS ORANGE.


 

(9) Tinted clip-on flip-up lenses as blue light filter

Cocoons SideKick clip-on flip ups with orange lens is an option if you would like to filter blue light completely:

Cocoons SideKicks clip-on orange lens blue light filter

  • blue light filtered 100% (up to 520nm)
  • overall light transmission: 34%
  • UV absorption: 100%

Source: Cocoons

You may buy orange Cocoons SideKick clip-on flip ups in three sizes (M, L, XL – see sizing guide) from Amazon (Disclosure: commission link), eBay (no commission link) or from Cocoons directly (no commission link).


 

Cocoons SideKick clip-on flip ups with yellow (lemon) lens is an option if you would like to filter blue light moderately while maintaining a good overall light transmission:

Cocoons SideKicks clip-on yellow-lemon lens blue light filter

  • blue light filtered 40% (100% up to 470nm)
  • overall light transmission: 86%
  • UV absorption: 100%

Source: Cocoons

You may buy yellow Cocoons SideKick clip-on flip ups in three sizes (M, L, XL – see sizing guide) from Amazon (Disclosure: commission link), eBay (no commission link), or from Cocoons directly (no commission link).


 

(10) Prescription computer glasses with blue light filtering lenses

Gunnars Prescription Rx (amber lenses) are available through Gunnar Optiks (commission link). You may choose from a wide variety of frame styles.

See section (6) Special purpose computer eyewear as a blue light filter above for more information on blue light filtering capacity (~53%) and general light transmission (96%) of Gunnars’ amber lens.

More reasonably priced computer glasses are also available from Reading Glasses ETC (Disclosure: commission link) and EyeFatigue (no commission link). For the latter see spectral transmittance information in section (6) above.


How do you relieve blue light related computer eye strain? Have I overlooked a blue light filter you would recommend? Let us know in the comments!

Ps: If you found this post 10 blue light filters to relieve computer eye strain, help sleep better, etc. useful, please consider LIKING, REBLOGGING, and/or SHARING it below.

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47 Comments

  1. I found out about TechShield Blue through Vision Service Plan’s newsletter and got it on my most recent pair of computer glasses (it was covered by my VSP insurance! Yay!). It’s like INSTANT RELIEF when I put them on and look at the screen at work!! I use Night Shift on my iPhone, but my vision still gets blurry when I’ve looked at my phone for a long period of time. I need to just put the darned thing down!

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    1. Hi, Terri. Great comment – it looks as though for some people even lenses that filter relatively low amounts of blue light (spectrogram below) work agains eye strain – that is great news! The difficult question remains: how can you know without trying what will work for you!? Thanks and best.

      TechShield Blue Spectral Transmittance

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  2. This information is fantastic. I’ve suffered from chronic migraine for over 10 years and have found that blue light is a major trigger. You’ve clearly done a lot of research and your website should help countless people. I’m baffled as to why the scientific community doesn’t give more attention to this problem. The increase in blue light exposure due to LED light sources (found in TV’s, computers, and interior lighting) could have dramatic long term consequences for people’s well being and eye health. Yet there seems to be practically no research into this area. Thanks for doing your part to get the message out there.

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  3. Thank you. I found your article to be very helpful in my understanding of blue light and how the different filters work. Thanks again.

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  4. Thankyou for your write up. I found the % of blue light blocked with the colored glasses useful. Ive known about blue light for a while, after having many leds in my living environment, come day time I was as blind as a bat in feeling like Im in “vertaul reality: of life, until a national news paper ran a story on blue light. Now Ive made homemade filters using phospher from flourescent tubes {mixed with clear coat} and sprayed onto sanded clear plastic overs. It works. Im using windscreen tinter on my computer, but their clear it needs to be amber or yellow to block blue light. Currently looking for a solution for iphone7 screen. Im disgusted that industry hasnt done squat about blue light as it hammers my eyes. Last year {2016} I noticed new Acer computers stated “blue light filtered” so it says iphone are a bunch of corner cutting for profit making rackitairs. As one of your commentaitors mentioned, cars with these LED headlights are a menice. Its obviously really a “government problem” and were in a {s-l-o-w-l-y post} ‘cowboy age’ regarding LEDS.

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    1. Guru Yodha, thanks for your comment. Indeed, blue light filtering apps can only reduce blue light emissions as far as digital video display technology will let them. Once you put blue blocking glasses on you realize there was still quite a bit of blue light left (see this review for more).

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  5. It’s the winter months that hurt my eyes. All the cars with their LED head lights and recently my worked changed to all LED lights. At least they bought flicker free lights but they emit high levels of blue and I am still trying to find blue filter glasses that work. Also my city is switching all the street lights to LED right now. My computer screen at home I switched it to a CRT and am using the IRIS software on it. I find it better if I am doing reading on the computer to use grey scale. I overclocked the refresh rate to 120 which is a big relief on the eyes. 60 hertz refresh rate on a CRT is death:) Life is hard but thanks to all you research on the subject of blue light it might be tolerable. I especially like your research on the diet because I have been eating things that are good for your eyes for years but never the right combination like you have listed. I always found there isn’t a lot of research on this subject and doctor’s are no help. Thanks again!

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  6. Thanks for this article. I am looking for an Android app and Windows PC app, and I’m confused by the fact that the only f.lux Android app I see in the play store says “preview, root-only.” Is there no mainstream version of the app for Android? I want an app that uses color transform, as you suggest.

    One other little thing: I think you mean “sewing,” not “sowing.” 🙂

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    1. Jacobdan, thanks for your comment.

      Sadly I don’t have good news as far as using color transform on your Android.

      Here is a recent reply of the creator of Iris (similar as f.lux but more focused on eye strain than insomnia):

      The transform is better solution, but there is no way to make it on Android without Jailbreak.

      So Iris ships with the transparent overlay option for Android users :(:.

      PS. Thanks for correcting me on the other little thing – you are right I did men “sewing”.

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  7. I have just one question, wasn’t able to find the answer so far – Does adding warmer overlay (Like Twillight app does) have same effect as filtering/removing blue light? If I have 3000K LEDs in my bedroom, the color would be warm white, but they will still emite light from the blue spectrum.

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    1. Nikola, hi. Thanks for your comment!

      A software solution cannot remove all blue light. A physical filter can get much closer to blocking it 100%.
      From practice: I just recently tried a pair of blue blockers (see review here). I normally work with orange text on black background + f.lux set at 2700K (daytime). As I put the glasses on I was amazed to see how much blue light a black screen still emits.
      Spectrograms: check out fluxometer.com. There you can see how screen’s spectral power distribution varies depending on f.lux settings (f.lux has the same functionality as Twilight).

      Another important consideration (particularly is you suffer from computer eye strain) is loss of contrast that blue light reducing apps produce. See some numbers comparing f.lux and twilight.
      In this sense I can’t but recommend color transform (not overlay) approach: f.lux or change background/text color.

      I hope you find this helpful.

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    1. Summer, hi! Thanks for bringing up Beyond UV.

      Yes, I’ve heard of Zenni Optical’s (commission link) Beyond UV lenses and considered them for the post on best blue blocking glasses. Unfortunately there was no information on spectral transmission properties of their blue bocking lenses to be found on their site (have I missed it?). I also wrote to them but received no reply.

      I assume Glarminy readers like to know what they are buying. As you can see here, even clear lenses could be considered and advertized as blue light filtering lenses, but that is probably not what you want to buy if you have a blue light related problem or you want to prevent having one.

      I hope this was helpful? Best 🙂

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    1. Max, hi. The best solution might be one with a Rosco filter described above in the post. It is much cheaper than the referred product and in terms of blue light filtering you’ll know what you are getting.

      With respect to the product linked in your comment, I’d be cautious because the statement:

      This type of sales talk specifically designed to filter up to 99.99% of harmful blue-light and UV (380nm ~ 480nm) from light sources in working and living environment;
      could mean:
      – blocks 99.99% of light up to 380nm
      – the transmission curve goes up sharply past 380nm to let through most light in the 440 – 520 nm range (high sensitivity of melanopsin, i.e. affects sleep)

      I am not saying that this is the case with the TV Anti-blue light filter you linked to, but if it is, than you’d be wasting your money.

      Also, in the image the screen looks clear. While it is very difficult to get true colors that reflect reality in such an image, you should know that it is impossible to have any significant blue light absorption without color distortion.

      I hope this helps?

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  8. Thanks very much for sharing this comprehensive article on blue light impact. I once heard that the distance of watching TV can’t cause eye problem, it’s the time. The longer you watch TV, the blue light emitted from the TV screen can hurt eyes. That’s the same as using computer, iPhone, or other digital device. (It’s not my point. Just want to say the close work can’t really cause eye strain, it’s the time you spend in front of your digital device.)

    I am an editor who need to spend more than 8 hours a day in front of computer. Also, I’m addicted to my iPhone on bed. So…. there is indeed a problem of my eyes. I got to know a lot of blue light hazard and also tried every possible way to block the harmful blue light when working and playing, indoor and outdoor. Just want to share my ways;
    1. On computer, download and install F.lux and wear a pair of blue light blocking glasses in conjunction. It’s T’aime Optics(http://www.taimeopt.com/), which can block 97% of blue light. Sometimes I choose to turn off F.lux because it can distort color perception and decrease brightness.
    2. On iPhone: turn on “Night Shift”. Yeah, maybe you can add this part to your article. Night Shift is the new function on iOS device, which has been designed to block blue light.
    3. I often try me best to shorten the time on iPhone or iPad before sleep time. Especially, don’t play with them in a black surroundings.
    4. Don’t turn on the LED light in the middle of night. Try to open the lamp or hallway light. Please note LED light is a part of blue light source.

    Sum up, the best way to minimize blue light is get away from these digital devices. If not, shorten the time and get the best protector.

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  9. You should check out Axon Optics.They have a patented custom tint that is for blue light filtering and migraine relief. The tint is kind of a rose color, which I find much nicer than the amber alternatives. They can do custom glasses with or without rx.

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  10. Thanks for the excellent article. I’ve noticed that in addition to f.lux software for the PC, there are apps now that filter blue light on your smartphone. Which is more effective: using a software to reduce the blue light or using the Roscolux color filters?

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    1. Colin, thanks for your kind words.

      If it is a good app (that uses color transform approach, as f.lux does) I’d recommend it. See this for more info on the advantages of transform vs overlay approach. It mostly has to do with loss of contrast.

      If your choice is between an app with an overlay approach and roscolux, than the latter is probably more certain in terms of blue light reduction.

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      1. Hi Uros,
        In regard to Roscolux colour filters, what specifically should I get? I’ve gone to the Rosco site and a bit confused? Do you have or know a good weblink that I can review to see exactly what I need to buy?

        I’ll be looking to add the filters to my laptop, iphone and ipads.

        Thank you!

        PS – what about TVs, we have 2 in the house so would be good to consider those also if they are a problem.
        Thanks again!

        Cheers,
        Fernando

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      2. Fernando, hi and thanks for your comments. The LowBlueLights site is a good start and might be your best solution if what you are trying to do is to fight insomnia.

        I’ve recently put up a post on best blue blocking screen filters including their spectrograms and use recommendations.

        Roscolux is a DIY option – it is a lot cheaper, but you have to do some work (just measuring, cutting with scissors, and taping the filter onto the screens). The above mentioned post has links to where you can purchase Roscolux products and also suggestions as to which color (spectral filtering characteristics) to get given the problem (insomnia, eye strain, AMD, etc…) you want to solve.

        You might also look at blue blocking glasses here.

        I hope this answers your questions. If not, let me know. 🙂 Uroš

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  11. Great information here by Uros, thank you very much. He has given me permission to comment on this amazing post.

    I am an Optometrist and the founder of Ocushield, a blue light screen filter developed by myself and a team of eye care professionals. We are also a great alternative reducing blue light without making the image of the device very orange. We keep image clarity very clear while still reducing harmful blue light up to 35%. Happy for anyone to get in touch regarding our product and technology.

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  12. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing the idea of using the roscolux film sheet to put on the iPad screen to block blue light. I was about to spend $40 on a blue light blocking shield but after reading your info, I went to a film store and paid $8 for enough to cover my iPad, iPhone and laptop screens. Thanks so much. I’m glad I came across your website.

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  13. Excellent article!

    I thought that I would add our blue block offerings to your list. For the last 2 years we have been offering custom crafted reading glasses with a choice of blue block tints or blue block anti-reflective coating. We are the #1 site on the internet for blue block readers.

    The frames are all optical quality and the lenses (which are included in the price) are thin aspheric polycarbonate. There are hundreds of frame styles to choose from ranging in price from $39 up. Blue block tint is $20 and blue block AR is $25.

    You can get zero power up to +4.00 in either eye and we offer prescription single vision lenses too!

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    1. Steve, thanks for this comment!

      For the sake of consistency, could you also provide some reference to:
      blue light filtering efficiency,
      – overall light transmission, and
      – UV absorption
      of your blue light filtering tints and anti-reflective coating?

      Please, also include links to this information on your website or (even better) an independant one.

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      1. From Steve at http://www.ReadingGlassesEtc.com.

        Both our blue block AR and blue block tinted lenses are aspheric polycarbonate with UV400.
        Mojo BluBlock AR reflects off blue light to 470nm allowing good blue light through. (~20% blue light blocked). They are scratch resistant and have a premium hydrophobic coating.

        Mojo BluBlock Amber Tint at a 15% tint depth, filters blue light to 550nm. Because the lenses are custom tinted, you can select tint depths from 15% to 60% depending on your personal light sensitivity and whether you wear them at night or outside during the day.

        Mojo BluBlock lenses are private label, supplied for us by a Colts Certified lab in California.

        We have more here about blue light and Mojo BluBlock and outside resources-

        and here specifically about Mojo BluBlock AR

        And FYI, this very informative article from Review of Optometry about blue light, good vs. bad and its connection to AMD.

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  14. After reading from your site that computer blue light cause retina damage I conclude that you are incompetent and dont read further. All symptom you describe its not caused by blue light but rather near work you get far more blue light from sunshine day than from electronic device.
    Most of information here is from frauds who sells they products so must create problem which they resolve.
    Typical statment from them: Who’s going to need the most protection? Those who have high exposure to white LED or fluorescent light bulbs in offi ces and homes, frequent users of LED computer monitors, tablets, or smart phones” another misinformation “At issue, however, is the fact that the standard radiance level of most monitors(or phone display) is very low. Most monitors emitlight at around 10 cd/m2. Ambient illumination is usually about 10–20 cd/m2. In other words, you would get about as much exposure staring at a blue wall, which reflects short-wave light into your eye, as you would by staring at a blue (light-emitting) monitor.”” http://www.hindawi.com/journals/scientifica/2012/424965/
    Many optometrist who study this issue dont agree,
    “A fundamental weakness of the phototoxicity-AMD hypothesis is its lack of epidemiologic confirmation despite over 20 years of careful investigation. While two large population-based studies did find an association between environmental light exposure and AMD, five other large population-based and four case-control studies failed to support this relationship. If there were a strong association between environmental light exposure and AMD, these large epidemiologic studies should have provided conclusive evidence. Additionally, AMD prevalence is not correlated with latitude as one might expect if environmental light exposure were a significant risk factor for AMD.”
    http://www.myvisiontest.com/newsarchive.php?id=705
    http://theidos.com/myths-about-uv.aspx
    There is no confirm danger about exposure from sun or bulbs (which have higher intensity than regular screen.)

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    1. DariusMD, thanks for bringing this up!

      Your comment is focused on the effects of blue light on AMD. This post’s focus is on the effects of computer blue light on computer eye strain and to a lesser extent also on sleep. I once mention other potential hazards (including retina damage) but in relation to emerging research to warn the reader. Moreover, the article restates elsewhere that the blue light related research is in the early stages suggesting the inconclusiveness of the results, which (according to my reading) your comment confirms.

      I realize that many people don’t have blue light related problems with eye strain or sleep. I hope they never will. This post is not for them.

      Blue light caused computer eye strain and sleep disorder are two problems I have. Using some of the blue light filters mentioned above has immensly improved the quality of my life. It has (among other things) enabled me to continue to work (with a computer). I realize I am not much of a sample, but this article is about helping people who might be having the same problems, not so much about science, i.e. it is about unique individuals. Statistics based medical science is great. It has helped a great majority of people – one, two, perhaps even three standard deviations from the mean (68%, 95% or 99.7% of all people respectively). This article is about those few of us who in this specific problem fall farther away from the mean. Even if we are just 0.3% of the population. Or even less! Thank God for the Internet!

      I really liked a recent comment on this subject by Dani, who has DSPD (Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder) and has struggled to find a solution. Here is how he summs up the experience of many of us who somehow don’t fit within the boundaries of statistics governed science:

      The lens colors are typically created by pigments and dyes in sunglasses and whatnot. There are a million different ways to make the same color since our eyes only detect a few colors and our brain makes the rest from those. Regular glasses or goggles may or may not work. If a lot of other people say it works, it may work for you. The wavelength we are most sensitive to is the average. You may fall at one end of the spectrum and find what works for most people doesn’t work for you.

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      1. The problem is that in such studies they exposed naked retina cells to high intense blue light so its not suprise its cause damage to them. “This post’s focus is on the effects of computer blue light on computer eye strain and to a lesser extent also on sleep” yes but problem here is that eye strain is caused by close work not blue light because like I sad you get more blue light starring at blue wall than computer screen. About sleep no one will be say anything because all knoww that blue light at night supress melatonin nothing here magical. ” Using some of the blue light filters mentioned above has immensly improved the quality of my life. It has (among other things) enabled me to continue to work (with a computer). I” I work as a toxicologist and one probably most important thing I learn is that placebo effect is powerfull tool. “This article is about those few of us who in this specific problem fall farther away from the mean. Even if we are just 0.3% of the population. Or even less! Thank God for the Internet!” yes I understand you but they should filter they eyes mostly all time as blue light is greater for example outdoor but there is also melatonin problem if they will block blue light they will get problem with this hormone balance in the greater way as using computer at night. P.S I also use f.lux to block blues at night.

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      2. DariusMD, your comment above is very good. Thanks. I took some time to reflect on it before answering:

        “problem here is that eye strain is caused by close work not blue light because like I sad you get more blue light starring at blue wall than computer screen”

        The biggest eye-strain problem I have is with driving, far greater than with computer work. You’ll agree that most of the time one spends looking at a distance, i.e. it is not “close work”. The road is not like your example of a “blue wall”, but a shade of gray, which means it reflects all colors evenly (also blue). If I put my orange glasses on it is much, much better. Far better than, for example, when using gray polarized sunglasses (which cut glare but let through full spectrum of light, also blue, unlike my orange glasses).

        I don’t have this problem in nature, though (where I live it is mostly green – it absorbs some blue light).

        “Placebo effect” I can’t argue this one. It could be. I am not sure how to test it.

        Thanks also for the very relevant warning about the “melatonin problem” if blocking blue light during the day. (I do try to avoid wearing my orange glasses, except in the evenings, and when driving, which is just too strenuous if I don’t.

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  15. Thank you for your comment on the PC Sunscreen software. A couple of comments:
    We do not publish absorption graphs for the software because the spectral distribution of light emitted by different monitors varies hugely and therefore such graphs are really meaningless. Instead we give the user complete control of the “virtual filter” which is superimposed on the normal screen colours. The software also allows you to set the preferred colour for the filter during the day to accommodate the 20% of users who read more fluently when the background colour is other than white. PC Suncreen also allows you to set up to three different filters on three monitors if using an extended desktop. Inevitably, filtering the emitted wavelengths does “distort” the colours and has some effect on contrast. However, because the size of the virtual filter can be adjusted, colour palettes and other colour critical objects can be placed outside the filter. Furthermore, with careful selection of the filter, the impact on contrast is minimal.
    We provided a Screen Tinter free of charge for many years but such programs do attract a considerable number of calls and emails and in our view it is better to charge a nominal fee to cover this support that to provide no support.
    Prof David Thomson

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