You’d like a filter for your screen (phone, laptop, desktop, or tablet) that would protect you from blue light and glare. You’ve looked all over with no luck. But, there are many vendors offering screen protectors with impressive blue blocking claims: filters blue light up to 100%, or 90% blue light blockage and in smaller font: from 370nm to 420nm. What does that mean? It gets really confusing when you also find their claim of no color distortion because that is impossible– you can’t block blue light and see it too!?!
In fact it is not easy to find good screen protectors that do filter considerable proportion of blue light, with no sales tricks, just plain and straightforward data. It’s disappointing, but there is little contest for the best anti-blue light screen filter. Could it be that there are only #two that live up to its promises!? … Unless, you’d be happy with a DIY solution!?
Below is a review of 13 brands that claim blue blocking properties of their screen protectors. You’ll also find spectrograms (where available) with corresponding recommendations about filters’ suitability for different blue light associated conditions.
If you know of any other digital screen blue light filters that should be in this post, do let me know!
If you are a vendor and have better transmission data for your screen protectors send it in. Your data will be published and rating revised.
On impressive sales slogans: Blocks xx% (preferably close to 100%) of blue light
Be careful with blue blocking sales slogans. Every transparent material – even the ones that appear completely clear to our eyes – filters (absorbs and/or reflects) some blue light. Many might block near 100% somewhere below 400nm, but that is not too helpful. Using a minute blue blocking capacity of a screen protector as an excuse to sell it as a blue light filter is deceiving! While technically correct, it may disguise weak blue light filtering capacity and negligible or at best uncertain impact on blue light associated conditions (such as eye strain, AMD, or insomnia).
Data gathering and analysis
The data for this review was gathered in late December 2016. It involved online search of blue light screen filters and a careful review of their websites. All brands that were found and that claim blue light blocking properties of their screen protectors are included in this review. In some cases spectral transmission data was obtained in direct communication with the vendors.
The ranking of blue light screen filters
Subjective judgements about screen protectors’ effectiveness in preventing different blue light associated conditions were avoided to come up with the ranking. Our problems with blue light do vary and so do our sensitivities to blue light such that different levels of blue light filtering capacity may be appropriate for different people.
Given such a subjectivity of our response to blue light, good information about filters’ spectral transmission characteristics is indispensable to compare different filters and choose well. In practice that means that, ideally, spectral transmission of a filter should be provided across the entire range of visible light (~380nm – ~750nm) and particularly accross the entire spectrum of (blue light) wavelengths that may produce physiological impact, namely ~380 – ~550nm.
Therefore, the ranking below is based on the quantity and quality of spectral transmission data available – the best and most complete being a filter’s spectral transmittance data across the entire visible range of wavelengths. Each brand of blue light screen protectors is placed in one of the three groups:
- Best specs : The vendor makes screen filter spectral transmission data available online
- 3rd party specs: Screen protector spectral transmittance data is not made available by the vendor but provided by a 3rd party site
- No specs: No spectral wavelength related transmission data could be found about the product, only a claim that the screen filter blocks blue light
Recommendations are based on filters’ spectral transmission and biology
Some orientation as to screen protectors’ suitability to prevent computer eye strain, glare, migraines, AMD or insomnia is provided. Given that non-image forming vision is so complex and that we still know relatively little about how exactly it works [Measuring and using light in the melanopsin age; 2014] the recommendations are based solely on screen protectors’ spectral transmission data and human biology.
- Advice for insomnia is based on spectral sensitivity of melanopsin – the receptor of non-visual information related to sleep/wake cycle. Melanopsin peak sensitivity is ~480-490nm, its sensitivity is relatively high between ~430-520nm and practically 0 above ~550nm (see grey curve below).
- Suggestions for computer eye strain, glare, AMD, migraines are based on spectral light blocking properties of macular pigment . Macular pigment’s functions include (1) filtering of blue light to provide sharper image to avoidance of eye strain, and (2) to protect the macula (the area of sharpest vision in our retina) from damage/degeneration caused by light (particularly blue light) [The visual effects of intraocular filters; 2012]. As indicated below macular pigment blocks blue light the most at ~460nm and significantly between ~440-490nm (see the curve delimiting the colored area).
For more info on these two blue light related mechanisms see How to pick the best blue filter for your light sensitivity problem.
Also, to know if and to what extent you might be sensitive to blue light see Are your eyes sensitive to light … or just blue light.
Another important issue considered in the recommendations is spectral power distribution (SPD) of a typical screen (most frequently LED backlit) – see examples below, click images view full size (sources LedMuseum and Fluxometer):
As you can see LED backlit digital screens tend to have a peak of power in the blue range, near 450 – 460nm. Below 430 they hardly emit any light at all. Hence, an effective blue light filter should considerably reduce the blue peak, i.e. filter high percentage of light on the interval between ~430-~480nm. Sadly, you will notice that hardly any screen protectors advertised as blue light filters do that. Instead they considerably filter blue light below ~430nm where there is hardly any blue light to be blocked.
In the end, you are likely to have to try filters with different transmission characteristics to determine which one works best for you (particularly if your problem is very specific). To facilitate this (frequently stressful) process I’ve developed GLARminY Tester:
GLARminY Tester lets you try 8 different blue light filters and, once you find the one that works best for you, it helps you find the most similar product (in terms of spectral transmission) available in the market.
For your convenience data on whether the screen protector’s surface is matte is also provided (where available).
Disclaimer: My interest in blue light screen filters comes from my blue light related problems with light sensitivity (photophobia), discomfort glare, insomnia and computer eye strain.
Disclosure: You can help sustain GLARminY – at no additional cost to you – by “donating” a small percentage of anything you buy from Amazon: access Amazon here (commission link). Many of the links below are also commission links as disclosed. Thanks for your help!
Blue light screen filters ratings overview
A tabular overview of blue light screen protectors is presented below and followed by more detailed information (including spectrograms, where available) and recommendations.
|Transmission data||Screen filter brand||Where to buy||Matte Anti-glare surface||devices covered|
|Best specs||EYES PC||Amazon (commission link)||n/a||desktops, laptops|
|Best specs||Fiara||Fiara, Amazon (commission link)||n/a||desktops, laptops, TVs, phones, tablets|
|Best specs||LowBlueLights||LowBlueLights||n/a||phones, laptops, desktops, tablets|
|Best specs||RetinaGuard||RetinaGuard, Amazon (commission link)||n/a||phones, leptops, tablets|
|Best specs||Rosco – DIY||Amazon (commission link)||n/a||phones, laptops, desktops, tablets|
|3rd pty specs||iLLumiShield||iLLumiShield, Amazon (commission link)||Matte||phones, laptops, desktops, tablets|
|3rd pty specs||OcuShield||OcuShield||n/a||phones, laptops, desktops, tablets|
|3rd pty specs||RetiCare||RetiCare, Amazon (commission link)||n/a||phones, laptops, desktops, tablets|
|3rd pty specs||RetinaShield||Tech Armor, Amazon (commission link)||n/a||phones, tablets|
|3rd pty specs||SleepShield||Amazon (commission link)||n/a||tablets|
|No specs||Cooskin||Amazon (commission link)||Matte||laptops|
|No specs||Cyxus||Amazon (commission link)||Matte||phones, tablets|
NO SPECS: Screen protector brands that provide no spectral transmission data
Unfortunately the evaluations and recommendations in this section will be somewhat wordy because of the lack of spectrograms. In the subsequent two sections one image – namely, the spectrogram – will replace many words.
If you need a screen protector to block considerable proportions of blue light the products in this group might not be the best for you. With no spectral transmittance data you simply don’t know what you are getting.
Cyxus blue blocking screen covers
Cyxus offers tempered glass blue light screen protectors for Apple iPhones and iPads on Amazon (commission link).
Some of the Cyxus’ anti blue light claims about their screen protectors:
99% Blocking Blue Light
Recommendation: A filter blocking near 100% of blue light would be very interesting for those with serious blue light related issues. However, the above Cyxus claim is (1) ambiguous with respect to the range of blue light wavelengths that are blocked, and (2) not supported by the images of their products. Although these type of photographs are rarely a true reflection of reality, they should still be suggestive. A filter blocking anywhere 99% of blue light should be tinted or distort the image to appear:
- yellow-ish (block near 100% of blue light up to ~450nm)
- amber-ish (block near 100% of blue light up to ~500nm)
- orange-ish (block near 100% of blue light up to ~550nm)
Also, note in the images that the blue displayed by the screen looks about the same where it is covered with the screen protector as where it is not. Remember: You can’t block blue light and see it too. Hence, based on the available information it is possible to recommend the Cyxus screen protector as preventive measure to those who don’t perceive any symptoms of computer eye strain or insomnia.
You may buy Cyxus blue light screen protectors on Amazon (commission link).
Cooskin screen covers
Cooskin sells anti blue light laptop screen protectors on Amazon (commission link).
Examples of Cooskin’s blue blocking claims:
- Blue Light Proof – Blue Light proof technology deflects harmful blue-violet light & UV away from your eyes while allowing beneficial light to pass through.
- COOSKIN Shield is 100% confident that our Blue Light screen protectors will aid in the reduction of eye strain and fatigue (…) The Blue Light line from COOSKIN Shield goes beyond competitor products by offering superior protection for your eyes as well as your screens.
Recommendation: Unfortunately in the absence of any other spectral transmission data it is necessary to depend on the product images (despite their unreliability) to evaluate spectral properties of the product. The screen protector appears completely clear and causes no color distortion (remember: You can’t block blue light and see it too). If blue light is significantly blocked the blue colors behind the filter should appear darker and black when 100% of blue is blocked. Moreover a blue light screen filter that blocks significant proportion of blue light through blue light absorption technology should appear tinted, usually yellow-ish, amber-ish or orange-ish. If blue light reflection technology is used, perhaps a filter could appear clear, but the image colors should be distorted, particularly the blues and whites that carry a high proportion of blue light. Hence, Cooskin laptop blue light proof screen protectors could be recommended as preventive measure to those who don’t perceive any symptoms of computer eye strain or insomnia.
You may buy Cooskin anti blue light laptop screen protectors on Amazon (commission link).
3rd PARTY SPECS: Screen protector brands whose spectral transmittance data you might find on other websites (if lucky)
The source of spectral transmission data for all four brands of blue light screen filters in this group is fluxometer.
In quality this data is equivalent to the data supplied by the vendors in the best group (below). The reason these vendors’ rating is “penalized” is because this highly relevant data should be easily accessible as part of each product description on the vendors’ websites and/or online stores.
Unfortunately– in spite of some attractive sales lines – only one of these screen protectors – RetiCare – filters significant proportions of blue light over the wavelength ranges that matter.
RetiCare eye protectors
Reticare sell blue light protectors for all types of screens: Smartphones, Laptops, Tablets and desktop monitors.
RetiCare claims to be the only eye protector that blocks high energy light. This is not entirely true, in fact LowBlueLights’ screen blue light filters also block it – more than RetiCare’s.
Moreover, they claim that RetiCare:
- reduces sleep disorders
- protects from retina damage
- decreases eye strain
Unfortunately they don’t publish spectrograms for their products. Below is RetiCare’s spectral transmittance curve from fluxometer.
The above data shows that indeed RetiCare blue light screen protector does block high energy blue light considerably (over 50%), particularly in the 440-460nm range, where digital screen blue light emissions usually peak.
Its spectral transmission curve is very similar to that of our macular pigment:
It makes a lot of sense for a blue light screen protector to mimic spectral properties of macular pigment whose principal functions are to protecting us from blue light induced eye strain and our eye from blue light induced damage. Hence, RetiCare certainly is one of the most interesting eye protectors against blue light induced computer eye strain and against retina damage. Those who suffer from moderate comptuer blue light induced insomina might also benefit from Reticare.
In terms of sleep (LowBlueLights protectors – see below – block even more blue light, but their aim is to fight insomnia, not eye strain or retina damage.
SleepShield sells a blue light screen filter for iPad Air on Amazon (commission link).
Their blue ligth related claims:
- High-transparency with 93% clarity
- ScreenShield helps reduce the amount of blue light your screen emits
- Anti blue light
Recommendation: The above diagram shows that SleepShield blue light screen protector indeed provides relatively high transmittance throughout the visible spectrum. In fact it gets above 90% transmission already by ~430nm. That is great if what you need is no color distortion and you don’t suffer from blue light related computer eye strain, insomnia, etc. If you do, you should probably consider an alternative solution that filters more blue light at longer wavelengths of blue light.
You may buy SleepShield blue light screen filter on Amazon (commission link).
RetinaShield anti blue light screen protector
RetinaShield screen protectors are sold on Tech Armor online store and on Amazon (commission link). Their product line includes blue light filter screen protectors for Apple (iPhone, iPad), Amazon Kindle Fire, LG G5, and Samsung Galaxy S7.
Recommendation: RetinaShield transmission is relatively high (above 80%) by ~430nm, meaning that beyond that wavelength blue light is blocked by less than 20%. This results in the modest reduction of the blue light spike in the image below.
The colored curve denotes spectral power distribution (SPD) of a computer screen filtered by RetinaShield screen protector. The black curve shows the original SPD (without RetinaShield).
Hence, this filter might be suitable for prevention, for those without perceived symptoms of blue light associated computer vision syndrome or insomnia.
OcuShield blue light screen protectors
OcuShield offers blue light screen filters for iPad, iPhone, MacBook Laptops and some Samsung phones.
OcuShield claims 95% visible light transmission. If you want low color distortion that is great news! They assure up to 35% blue light blocking ability in a comment here on GLARminY. As you can see below their filters truly reach ~35% for some wavelengths (380-400nm) and appear to filter less than 20% beyond that.
Recommendation: According to the above spectrogram, OcuShield’s transmission approaches ~90% by 420nm. In terms of digital screen blue light reduction it’s effectiveness is similar to the one shown for the previous product (RetinaShield), i.e. minimal. Therefore, an OcuShield filter might provide some degree of prevention from blue light associated conditions. However it isn’t likely to be very helpful in reducing existing blue light related eye strain and/or insomnia.
You may buy OcuShield screen protectors on their website.
iLLumiShield blue light reduction screen
iLLumiShield blue light reduction screens may be ordered at their site or on Amazon (commission link). iLLumiShield has a deep selection of screen protectors for phones, tablets, laptops, smart watches, cameras, and consoles for devices from Acer, Alcatel, Amazon, Apple, Asus, BlackBerry, Dell, Google, HP, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, Nintendo, Nokia, Pebble, Samsung, Sony, ZTE and more.
For products branded ILLUMISHIELD-BLUE LIGHT they claim: “Blue Light technology deflects harmful blue-violet light & UV away from your eyes”. Furthermore “The Blue Light line is a higher class of screen protector that preserves eye health and prevents harmful blue light from impairing your vision and ability to concentrate. An additional razor-thin layer of film filters and disperses blue light that would otherwise cause symptoms of eye fatigue.”
It is not evident that the iLLumiShield spectrogram above refers to the BLUE LIGHT screen protector. However, given the nature of the source site it is highly likely that it does.
The reduction of blue light with this filter is minimal. The colored curve denotes iLLumiShield filtered spectral power distribution (SPD), the black curve shows the original digital screen SPD – without any filters.
Recommendation: The spectrogram above shows iLLumiShield screen protectors’ high transparency and low blue light blocking capacity. The filter appears to let through more than 90% of blue light by ~410nm and about 95% at ~ 460nm and above. As such it might help you as preventive measure, if you don’t suffer any severe blue light associated conditions. If you do you may want to look elsewhere.
BEST SPECS: Brands thatpublish spectrograms for their blue light screen filters
This is the group of those vendors and brands that show the spectrograms of their blue light screen protectors. Among them there is one that blocks near 100% of blue light up to ~ 530nm. Included is also a brand of filter gels for those who are willing to consider a DIY blue light screen filter.
DIY blue light screen filter
Rosco filter gels are a DIY solution of screen blue light filters that appear the most easily available online – see Amazon (commission link). Equivalent filter gels are also produced by Lee Filters and Cotech Filters.
One important advantage is the huge selection of spectral transmission characteristics you can choose from. Three that appear the most obvious choices are suggested below.
Installation may be a problem: you can tape it to your screen’s frame (after cutting it 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 block blue light.
If you are not terribly sensitive to blue light, you might consider filter gels that don’t block blue light by 100% (perhaps ~50% or ~80% would be sufficient?).
Note also that filter gels have a glossy surface.
Touch screen sensitivity is preserved with a filter gel on top of it.
Roscolux 10 – Medium Yellow
Recommendation: Roscolux 10 Medium Yellow filters near 100% blue light between ~400 and ~480nm and provides high transmittance (near 90%) above ~500nm. The range of wavelengths blocked is very similar to those of macular pigment, hence this filter should be a reasonable choice for those with computer eye strain issues, AMD, glare, headaches/migraines.
Due to higher transmission in the 490-550nm range, this filter might be less suitable for insomnia prevention for those whose sleep is very affected by blue light and tend to use digital screen devices 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Roscolux 19 – Fire
Recommendation: Roscolux 19 Fire filters near 100% blue light up to ~560nm with high transmittance immediately after that. This spectral profile might be a good choice for use in the final 2-3 hours before bedtime if you have a strong blue light related insomnia. For those with computer eye strain issues, AMD, glare, headaches/migraines blocking all blue light all the way up to 560nm is a sure bet, but might be an overkill in many cases (see at the bottom of this post an attempt with a filter with a cutoff at ~600nm – there was no improvement in eye strain and light sensitivity as compared to a filter with a cutoff at ~550nm). Note also that such a filter will distort colors significantly.
You may buy Roscolux 19 Fire on Amazon (commission link).
Roscolux 23 – Orange
Recommendation: Roscolux 23 Orange is an interesting middle ground between Roscolux 10 and 19 in terms of visual light transmission and color distortion. It filters near 100% blue light between ~420nm and ~540nm. The transmission of blue light below 420nm is still very low. Moreover, digital screen emissions are weak in that range in addition to our crystalline lens blocking blue light significantly below 420nm. This curve adapts very well to the combined ranges of macular pigment spectral filtering and spectral sensitivity of melanopsin. Hence the spectral transmission properties of Roscolux 23 Orange could be a good choice for insomnia, computer eye strain symptoms, and other blue light associated conditions (AMD, light sensitivity, glare, headaches/migraines, etc) even if you are more blue light sensitive.
You may buy Roscolux 23 Orange on Amazon (commission link).
RetinaGuard blue light screen filters
In words and with spectrograms they show that their filters for phones, desktops and tablets have the following spectral transmission characteristics:
- 90% blue light blockage (380nm-420nm)
- zero color distortion
Click on the images to view full sized images
Recommendation: Spectral transmission data shows near 0% transmittance up to ~410nm and ~80% or more light transmission above 430nm. While RetinaGuard screen protector might be a reasonable preventive tool against blue light associated conditions, its blue light filtering capacity above 410nm might be too low for those already suffering from different blue light associated conditions.
LowBlueLights screen filters
These are not marketed as screen protectors that filter blue light but specifically and only as blue blocking filters. They are “intended to be used in the evening 2-3 hours before bedtime” to prevent digital devices from affecting sleep. LowBlueLights offers them primarily for Apple products (iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and iMacs) but you can also use them with other brands (of laptop and desktop screens) as explained in product descriptions of LowBlueLights website. You may order LowBlueLights screen filters on their website.
The images above show that the filters are orange-ish, i.e. significant color distortion, which is how it should be, i.e. in line with the physical properties of light. (Credit: the sentence “You can’t block blue light and see it too” that is frequently used in this post comes from LowBlueLights website.)
They have two products with very similar spectral transmission characteristics:
The Zzz Blue-blocking filters for iPhones and iPads – spectrogram from fluxometer:
and the acrylic Blue-blocking filters for iMacs and MacBooks:
Recommendation: As you can see LowBlueLights filters block blue light considerably:
The Zzz Blue-block filter for phones and tablets blocks near 100% of blue light up to ~500nm and should help people with any blue light associated condition except perhaps those whose sleep is heavily affected by blue light. However, even for these people there seems to be no better option in the market, except perhaps the DIY blue light screen filter presented above.
The filter for laptops and desktops blocks near 100% of blue light up to ~540nm which can get you close to blue light free computer viewing.
Note, however, that for those with milder blue light sensitivity and issues other than insomnia these solutions might be an overkill, which makes sense because LowBlueLights screen filters are specifically targeting problems with insomnia.
You may order LowBlueLight blue blocking filters on their website.
Fiara screen protectors
Spectral transmission data of Fiara filters:
Recommendation: Fiara blue light screen covers filter near 100% of light up to ~400nm. Above ~430nm their transmittance is between 70% and 80%. Fiara’s spectral transmission suggests their filters might be reasonable for prevention for those who are not yet experiencing severe issues with blue light associated conditions.
EYES PC blue light screen filters
EYES PC offers blue light screen protector panels for laptop and desktop screens (sizes up to 32”!) on Amazon (commission link).
EYES PC discloses the following spectrogram for their blue light screen protector panels for laptops and desktop screens:
Recommendation: EYES PC blue light screen protector panels for laptops and desktop screens filter near 100% of light up to ~400nm. Above ~430nm their transmittance is between 70% and 80%. The spectral transmission curve suggests their blue light filters might be reasonable for prevention if you are not yet experiencing any issues with blue light associated conditions. If you already have some issues it might be wise to look for other solutions.
You may order EYES PC blue light screen protector panels at Amazon (commission link).
While in deciding between different screen filters it is crucial to depend on spectral transmission data, such information is impossible or difficult to find in the case of many screen protectors marketed as blue light filters.
Among the brands for which spectral transmittance is available most filter minimal proportions of blue light or filter blue light where digital screens emit none. This may be indicative of their (in)effectiveness in preventing light sensitivity, glare, computer eye strain, AMD, and/or insomnia. Such screen filters might be used for prevention if they make your eyes feel more comfortable. But they are not likely to mitigate/treat/remove existing symptoms of blue light associated conditions.
There are two notable exceptions: LowBlueLights (for insomnia) and RetiCare (for eye strain and retina damage protection). Based on their spectrograms it is possible to conclude that their products really live up to their claims and promisses.
Given the scarcity of options in terms of spectral transmittances a DIY blue light filter solution may be an interesting possibility. Rosco, Lee Filters and Cotech Filters, offer a wide variety of filter gels with many different spectral transmittance profiles to choose from.
Another possibility to increase one’s options in terms of spectral transmittances is to use blue blocking glasses.
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