- Blue light is known to cause eye problems and especially to negatively affect our sleep cycle.
- The main sources of blue light are the sun, devices with illuminated screens, and fluorescent and neon lights.
- Apps, browser extensions, accessories, and simple everyday practices can help reduce blue light exposure.
- Built-in solutions like Windows Night Light and macOS Night Shift are functional and straightforward ways to turn on blue light filters.
Blue light has had a negative impact on our health since the pandemic, and it’s all thanks to all-time high digital screen time levels. Blue light is known to affect sleep habits and overall work productivity during the day if left unchecked. Every device around you with an illuminated display emits blue light. So it’s time you take this issue even more seriously than you already do.
The solution is simple: install blue light filters on your devices. Blue light filters are software-based or hardware accessories that block incoming blue light from getting into your eyes. Let’s start with this guide on blue light filters for PCs and Macs.
Table of Contents
What Is Blue Light?
To put it simply, blue light is one of the many colors our eyes can see. What is special about blue light is that it has the shortest wavelength and the highest amount of energy. Therefore, blue light has a stronger effect on our eyes than any other color. Our eyes aren’t able to block blue light, so it can easily pass through our cornea and reach the retina.
In numerous studies on this topic, blue light has been shown to affect our body’s natural sleep cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. You’ll be surprised to know that it’s not our devices that are the biggest contributor to blue light exposure, but primarily the sun. Other artificial sources include digital screens, fluorescent lights, televisions, etc.
How Harmful Is Blue Light?
Blue light affects one of the most important aspects of our bodies – sleep. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, blue light helps keep us awake and active during the day. When the sun goes down in the evening, blue light exposure is significantly reduced, which affects circadian rhythms, helping us to fall asleep at night.
Even if we say goodbye to the sun in the evening, we can never stay away from our devices. As a result, our bodies are exposed to blue light again and we can’t fall asleep. UC Davis Health notes that not only sleep, but other problems such as cataracts, macular degeneration and even cancer can be caused by prolonged exposure to blue light.
Now that you know the harmful effects, it’s best to protect yourself from blue light whenever possible. That’s where blue light filters come in, which we’ll discuss in more detail for PCs and Macs.
First-Party Blue Light Filters on Windows and Mac
If you rely more on built-in solutions, Windows and Mac have it all covered in this regard. Windows’ Night Light and macOS’ Night Shift are excellent first-party blue light filters. They are more than sufficient for most users and offer additional options like scheduling and changing the intensity. Follow the steps below to enable them on your device.
Night Light on Windows
- Click on the Windows icon and search for Settings.
- Select Display.
- Turn on Night light.
- Click on the dialog box to open additional settings.
- You can adjust the intensity and schedule of the night light according to your needs.
Night Shift on macOS
- Press the key combination Command + Spacebar to start the Spotlight search and look for settings.
- Select Displays.
- Click on Night Shift.
- You can set your own schedule and drag the slider to adjust the intensity of the blue light filter.
Blue Light Filter Apps for Windows and Mac
Blue light filtering apps work the way they’re supposed to, while allowing for precise control and offering advanced options. Below you’ll find the best options for Windows and Mac users.
f.lux is one of the best apps for this purpose, as it’s free and open source. F.lux is available on most platforms and allows you to customize the blue light filter settings to your liking. It works automatically and sets the appropriate color temperature depending on the time of day.
All you have to do is specify your earliest wake-up time and choose your preferred type of setting, and f.lux will take care of the rest. f.lux always adjusts your device’s screen to your environment – for example, your indoor lighting at night and sunlight during the day. Plus, smart bulbs and lamps can sync with your screen’s current color settings.
Inspired by f.lux, Redshift is another free and open source app that aims to perfect your viewing experience throughout the day. Redshift adjusts your display to the position of the sun, ensuring smooth temperature transitions at all times.
The app’s interface is as simple as possible and only includes the bare essentials. Redshift also adjusts the color temperature to the ambient temperature, so your eyes won’t notice the difference. Overall, Redshift is highly recommended.
LightBulb is another remarkable app for Windows that is fast and lightweight. LigthBulb is similar to f.lux, so it feels familiar and is similarly pleasant to use. You can set the color temperatures for day and night separately, and use a third slider to set the time interval between day and night.
The app relies on your geolocation to set the correct color temperature. So you can either share your location or set it manually. All in all, LightBulb is a great free and open source option for anyone looking for a straightforward app.
Eye Saver is an excellent free app that protects your eyes from blue light and screen flicker that cause eye strain and headaches. Another thoughtful feature of the app is the additional pause reminder that makes you look away from the screen for a few seconds before resuming.
Eye Saver supports automation, which means you can automate the switching of the screen mode depending on the working hours per app. Even though the user interface is outdated, Eye Saver is a no-nonsense application that includes all the important functions for blocking blue light.
While other apps like f.lux and LightBulb rely on your geolocation and the position of the sun to set the right color temperature, SunsetScreen goes a step further by letting you set specific time intervals yourself. This is especially handy in winter, when the sun sets early but your body isn’t ready to go to bed that early.
If you’re a night owl or an early riser, setting custom intervals is beneficial if your body is used to unconventional sleep cycles. Although it is paid, you definitely won’t mind paying a one-time fee of $5 for this awesome app.
Iris Mini is an ultra-minimalist application that doesn’t even have a user interface to begin with. All you have to do is click on the Iris Mini icon with the temperature presets that are best suited for a wide audience. A single click sets the behavior to Auto, which sets the temperature to 5400K with 100% brightness during the day and 3400K with 80% brightness at night.
Clicking again sets the temperature to 3400K and the brightness to 80%. A third click pauses the app temporarily. The app is actually so easy to use, although you can unlock additional settings if you buy the Pro version for $8.
NightTone is a macOS menu bar app that makes your viewing experience much more comfortable and easy on the eyes. The app is elegantly designed and includes all the important options such as scheduling, changing the temperature intensity and an additional button for color reversal.
The app requires a one-time fee of $2.99, but its simplicity and ease of use make it worthwhile. Another ace up NightTone’s sleeve is the ability to set colors other than yellow, so you can keep colors like green, pink, red, and more.
NightScreen is similar to NightTone in terms of form, function, and cost. In addition to the usual features like setting color temperature and scheduling, NightScreen has a handy little slider that lets you reduce the brightness of your screen to a lower value than usual.
This app is also a menu bar app for better usability and is dead easy to use. NightScreen is a must-have app if you’re looking for a simple blue light filtering app that does the job.
CareUEyes is the Swiss Army Knife of blue light filtering apps. CareUEyes is dedicated to providing a healthier visual experience, so it includes a variety of features to protect your eyesight. The app lets you set custom color temperatures for day, night, and different situations like office, movies, gaming, reading, editing, and more.
Other options in the app include a handy pause reminder, automatic brightness control, focus reading mode, and focus blur mode for a better reading experience. CareUEyes’ sophisticated MagicX feature allows you to darken, grayscale, or invert the colors of an active window to create a Kindle e-book reader-like reading experience.
Blue Light Filter Accessories
Not only apps, but accessories can serve as an excellent blue light filter for your PC and Mac. Accessories require a one-time application and are as good as plug-and-play, which makes them much more practical in comparison. Below are the top accessories that block blue light.
If you use an external monitor in your setup, screen protectors that block blue light are the best choice. The panels attach to the top edge of the monitor and don’t need to be glued. Thanks to their multi-layer construction, they can block not only blue light waves, but also UV rays.
The panels are universally compatible – you just need to buy the right size for your PC or laptop. You get the added bonus of dust protection for your monitor or laptop, as the panels prevent dust particles from coming into contact with the display.
If you are more into screen protectors, you should check out blue light filter screen protectors. Blue light filter screen protectors are applied to your laptop’s screen just like regular protective films and protect it from scratches and smudges.
Aside from the ability to block blue light, you also get additional features like an oleophobic coating, a hydrophobic coating, glare protection, and even scratch protection. Overall, blue light filter screen protectors are cheap, easy to apply, and extremely useful.
Most of today’s generation are constantly glued to their mobile and laptop screens, whether for work, study, play, or even entertainment. Whatever the reason, you should definitely invest in some blue light glasses or computer glasses as many like to call them. If you already wear glasses, consider swapping out your lenses for blue light.
Wearing such glasses will not only protect your eyes from blue light emitted by illuminated displays, but also from other light sources such as the sun and fluorescent light. So the next time you get your glasses made, don’t forget to add blue light blocking lenses to your order.
Adjusting your environment and workspace is another way to prevent blue light from causing problems. A good way to do this is to use a monitor light bar that adjusts the lighting and color temperature in and around your workspace.
A light bar is a simple accessory that sits on top of your monitor and provides additional lighting to improve visibility. Not only can you control the brightness, but you can also adjust the color temperature and set a warmer tone to reduce blue light exposure.
Blue Light Filter Browser Extensions
If you do most of your work in the browser, consider installing a blue light filtering extension. Blue light blocker extensions are handy and work just as well as standalone apps. Below you’ll find some of the best blue light filtering extensions.
Screen Shader is one of the best rated screen tinters. The app looks suspiciously similar to f.lux, but that’s not a bad thing because Screen Shader is completely free, open source, and just as good. The extension automatically adjusts the color temperature of web pages according to the time of day.
You’re prompted to specify your approximate wake-up time, and Screen Shader takes care of the rest. The “cozy orange” is supposed to restore your body’s circadian rhythm and prevent stress, fatigue and eyestrain. Screen Shader works on all websites without exceptions or slowing down the system.
Night Eye is one of those extensions that kills two birds with one stone. As the name suggests, Night Eye is primarily a dark mode extension with a built- in blue light filter. Night Eye is very well rated and is known for darkening even websites that are notorious for staying in bright mode all the time.
The combination of dark mode and blue light filter helps reduce eye strain caused by prolonged viewing of bright sources. You can even configure the dark mode and blue light filter to your liking. The extension isn’t free, but you can try it out for free for three months.
Midnight Lizard is an exceptionally well-rated Chrome extension designed to improve your viewing experience. In addition to the ability to block blue light, Midnight Lizard has a built- in dark mode configurator, contrast enhancer, brightness and saturation tuner, grayscale mode, automation feature, and scheduling, among many other valuable features.
The extension lets you further refine the settings by letting you make the changes on specific websites of your choice. Moreover, you can fully configure the appearance of individual elements such as frames, text, links, and even the background. The best thing about Midnight Lizard is that it’s free and open source, which is almost unusual for a feature set like this.
Blue Light Filter is the Chrome extension of CareUEyes – the aforementioned blue light blocker app for Windows. It gives you all the benefits of CareUEyes’ Windows app in your browser. The extension also offers a pause reminder, a focus reader, and a dark mode scheduler.
Plus, you can customize the color temperature for different scenarios like office, gaming, movies, work, reading, etc. The fully configurable built-in break reminder keeps you taking breaks in between to protect your eyes from constant blue light exposure.
Color Temperature is a suitable extension for nerds who want to accurately calibrate the RGB color values of their screen. Filtering blue light with a warm light filter is based on the same RGB concept, and this extension puts that exact control in your hand.
Color Temperature allows you to restrict web pages to which you don’t want the changes to apply – a nice little extension. The extension is clear and straightforward, which makes it a highly recommended extension for filtering blue light.
Day-to-Day Practices to Reduce Blue Light Exposure
You don’t always have to think too much about problems that can be solved with simple methods. Reducing blue light exposure is one such thing – you can implement simple everyday practices that will help you achieve this. The above methods are by no means irrelevant; it’s just that the following practices are pretty basic and equally beneficial.
Switch to Dark Mode
You may or may not find dark mode intriguing already, but what’s a fact is that dark mode is significantly better at blocking blue light than light mode, mainly due to reduced illumination. Also, dark mode saves battery compared to light mode, especially on OLED screens. Moreover, increased contrast levels in dark mode ensure a strain-free viewing experience.
However, dark mode isn’t always better, as your eyeballs have to dilate to focus on texts due to reduced lighting. Thus, the American Academy of Opthalmology recommends staying in light mode during the daytime and switching to dark mode once the sun sets.
Keep Screen Brightness at Adequate Levels
It may surprise no one, but blasting out your screen’s brightness to the absolute maximum causes harm to your eyes. You might have noticed it yourself – increased brightness levels cause eye strain. Furthermore, Plano Eye Health states that increased brightness levels result in an increment in blue light levels, which does more harm than good.
Indeed, you shouldn’t lower your screen’s brightness and make it troublesome for yourself. A good middle ground is to set the brightness to auto and let your phone or laptop decide for itself. Otherwise, you can manually set the brightness according to your environment.
Allow Natural Light to Dominate Your Workspace
The whole point of this blue light fiasco is to match your screen’s color temperature to that of your environment. So, what better than letting natural light dominate your workspace and letting it do the job for you? Natural light gives a fresh feeling and keeps you motivated throughout.
Although not scientifically proven, natural light provides a comfortable working environment rather than sitting under artificial lighting. Likewise, you can, at least, get a lighting setup that mimics natural lighting to reduce blue light levels in your workspace. Do note that sitting in direct exposure to sunlight can contrarily increase blue light levels.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule
The 20-20-20 is a clever and effective rule to reduce eye-related disorders caused by digital equipment. You are essentially required to take a brisk break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This ensures you are not constantly staring at your screen for long durations.
This method allows your eyes to get proper relaxation, and you can additionally have a glass of water every now and then to keep your eyes and body hydrated. Browser extensions like 20/20/20 Vision, Eye Care Notification, and apps like 20-20-20 on macOS and Pomy on Windows can even remind you of the same.
Avoid Looking at Your Devices the First Thing in the Morning
One thing you should refrain from doing the first thing you wake up in the morning is staring at your phone or laptop. Since your eyes haven’t calibrated to a light source for hours, they need to be made comfortable after you wake up, which is why waking up to natural sunlight feels sublime.
If you instead wake up to your phone or laptop’s bright screen, your eyes will have difficulty adjusting to the harsh light source. So, do your eyes a favor by not looking at your phone or laptop first thing in the morning.
Avoid Working for Long Hours in a Stretch
While you may be aware of this already, working for long durations in one go harms your health and eyes. Constant exposure to bright sources of light causes eye strain, as a result of which you may end up rubbing your eyes now and then.
Working for long hours and past midnight hinders our body’s natural sleep cycle, which may affect your body adversely. It’s essential to take frequent breaks in between and follow a sleep routine.
Reduce Blue Light Exposure on Your PC and Mac
Now that you know how harmful blue light can be, you should use methods to reduce exposure to blue light. You can use apps, browser extensions, or physical methods to block blue light, such as shields, screen protectors, computer glasses, or monitor lights.
You should also take the steps above to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Vision and sleep are two of the most important aspects of the human body, and we need to make sure we don’t hinder them.
FAQs about Blue Light Filter for PC and Mac
1. What is blue light?
Blue light is one of the many colors of light from the visible spectrum. Blue light possesses the unique characteristic of having the lowest wavelength and the highest amount of energy. As a result, blue light can affect our bodies the most. Prominent sources of blue light include the sun, fluorescent light, and neon signs.
2. How does blue light affect my body?
Prolonged exposure to blue light-emitting sources has been proven to show adverse effects on our health in the form of diseases and disorders like cancer, lack of sleep, eye strains, and more. Sun, the largest source of blue light, is a significant contributor, but digital devices, like phones and laptops, can contribute equally if used extensively.
3. Does blue light affect sleep?
Yes, blue light does affect your sleeping habits. Blue light suppresses the release of melatonin – a chemical necessary for falling and staying asleep. While blue light is beneficial in the morning to wake up and stay alert throughout the day, it’s the opposite at night. Blue light exposure at night can prevent you from falling asleep on time, thus hampering your overall sleep quality.
4. How do apps and extensions block blue light?
Blue light emission can be reduced by simply changing the screen’s color temperature. So, changing the color temperature to a warmer tone can reduce the amount of blue light emitted. Apps and browser extensions work on the very same principle. Furthermore, most apps rely on your geolocation or time information to accurately tune the color temperature to match the sun’s.
5. How can I prevent myself from getting exposed to blue light?
There are multiple ways to reduce blue light exposure. The most effective ones include using blue light filtering apps like f.lux, SunsetScreen, Iris Mini, NightScreen, and more. Furthermore, you can also use browser extensions like Screen Shader and Midnight Lizard. Physical accessories like blue light shields, screen protectors, and computer glasses are equally fruitful.
6. What is 20-20-20 rule?
The 20-20-20 rule is a simple practice to ensure healthy eyesight. It essentially requires looking away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Doing this, your eyes won’t feel the strain they would have felt otherwise. It’s a practical and uncomplicated practice.