Our exposure to blue light is ever on the rise. This is in part due to the development of energy-saving lighting techniques like Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and LEDs which emit lots of blue light. We are also making more use of devices like smartphones and laptops with displays that release blue light. Over-exposure to blue light has been proven to have a number of adverse effects on our health including interrupting our sleep cycle. Consequently, people are now looking into ways of minimising exposure to blue light. One of the solutions to this problem is the use of blue light filter apps that reduce the blue light emitted by your various devices. But, are blue light filter apps effective?
Blue light filtering software is arguably the most commonly used method of reducing blue light exposure. There are apps for every kind of device and every type of platform including Windows, Apple and Android. However, despite their popularity, there are still some varying opinions regarding whether or not they are as effective as advertised when it comes to blocking blue light. To answer this question, you must first be clear on how blue light filter apps actually work.
How Blue Light Filter Apps Work
The way these apps ‘filter’ blue light is by shifting the colour tone of what is being displayed to the warmer parts of the colour spectrum like yellow, orange or red. The result is that blue light emitted is significantly reduced and the screen of your device acquires a yellow, orange or red sheen. These apps shift the colour tone of your screen in two main ways:
- The colour transform approach – The software tools that use this method bypass the operating system completely and directly act at the video driver level to control the intensity of the major channels of the display (red, blue and green). By directly controlling what colours are to be drawn on the screen, these apps can then shift the colour towards warmer tones and shut off pixels emitting blue light.
- The transparent overlay approach – In this approach, the app creates a transparent layer over your display to reduce the amount of blue light emitted by your screen. This transparent overlay is usually yellow, orange or red depending on the particular app and the intensity you select. Just remember that the overlay isn’t a physical filter but a software-rendered layer that seemingly serves the same function.
Most blue light filter apps out there utilise a transparent overlay to combat blue light while only a few apps like f.lux bother with the colour transform approach. In both methods, relatively the same amount of blue light is reduced but the transparent overlay approach tends to considerably reduce the contrast of your display. This can make reading on your screen harder and strain the eyes of those susceptible. On the other hand, the colour transform method is much better at preserving the contrast of your display screen.
Are Blue Light Filter Apps Effective?
We have finally arrived at the main event and the answer is: Yes, blue light filter apps are effective, but only to a certain extent. By shifting colour profiles from blue to other shades, they are obviously reducing the blue light reaching your eyes. Also, as has been previously explained, both the methods used by apps to reduce blue light are very successful. However, these software tools are simply incapable of blocking all the blue light emitted by the screens of your gadgets. There’s still the LED backlight emitting blue light as part of its white light, which these apps can’t do anything about. So if you are particularly sensitive to blue light and these apps aren’t doing enough, you could purchase a heavy duty physical filter to suit your needs.
Another important fact to note is that not all blue light exposure is due to your electronic devices. Once the sun sets, fluorescent lighting can emit just as much blue light as your smartphones and laptops, if not more. That’s why blue light filter apps are only part of the solution even if they are quite good at what they do. To protect your eyes from all sources of blue light, you need to find eyewear that will effectively filter out blue light. You can try out our Ocushield blue blocking glasses, they are just what you need.
So there you have it, while blue light filter apps can protect you from blue light emitted by your devices, they aren’t enough to completely ensure your safety. You may also need physical filters like blue light filtering screen protectors and blue blocking glasses. You can find out more about blue light and ways to safeguard yourself by reading articles our blog, here at Ocushield.