10 ways to counteract harmful blue light from screens

LEDs used in lighting and digital screens are wonderfully energy efficient, but they emit blue light that can cause eye problems and insomnia. Here’s what you can do about it.

Blue light

I’ve always been able to get to sleep very quickly. I have a good wind-down routine at night and within a few minutes of getting into bed, I’m asleep. But this changed about four years ago when it started taking me longer and longer to get to sleep, sometimes up to an hour or two.

This puzzled me greatly. Nothing of any note had changed in my life. I was happy and not worried or stressed about anything. I was sleeping in the same bed, in the same room I’d slept in for a number of years, and my sleep habits hadn’t changed. But still the difficulty with getting to sleep persisted, night after night.

My eye test

Then I went to an optician to get some prescription sunglasses for driving. First, he commented on how red my eyes were. I’d managed to get chili in one eye earlier that day when cooking so I said I thought that may be the cause, but I could see he wasn’t convinced.

He peered for a very long time through his ophthalmic equipment, took photos of the back of my eyes, and informed me that I might possibly have early signs of macular degeneration. That definitely got my attention, and no stretch of the imagination could dismiss it with tales of chili-related incidents.

As to my red eyes, he diagnosed dry eye blepharitis syndrome, sold me some soothing eyelid wipes that he said would help, suggested I return for more retinal photography in a year’s time, and sent me on my way.

Seeking the cause

Most people would have gone home, used the wipes, worried about going blind, and carried on. Not me. I always want to know why something is happening. Treating symptoms is never a long-term solution. Real change can only come from knowing the cause of a problem.

So, I thought to myself, what can possibly be the reason for this? My optician had offered no clues, so I did what any savvy person would do and googled “blepharitis”. This delivered many pages of information about how to treat it but still no clue as to the cause.

I persisted and eventually found an article about Daniel Ezra, a consultant ophthalmologist and oculoplastic surgeon at London’s prestigious Moorfields eye hospital, who sees so many people with blepharitis these days that he’s calling it an epidemic. And what does he think the cause of this is? Staring at screens for many hours a day.

He estimates that 15 percent of Londoners have the condition, and 60 to 90 percent of office workers have some form of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Symptoms are blurred vision, double vision, dry, red eyes, eye irritation, headaches and accompanying neck or back pain. He says working in an air-conditioned office exacerbates symptoms because it increases tear evaporation from the surface of the eye. Bright lighting can also be a problem.

Clearly, we are not designed to sit in sealed boxes staring at screens all day. I never use air-conditioning myself but, as a writer, I do spend long hours working at my computer and I prefer to use three screens rather than just one. I decided I needed to train myself to blink more and take frequent breaks, and this helped a little, but I still wasn’t able to get to sleep at night.

Blue light

I continued my researches and discovered that CVS was just the tip of the iceberg. Far more worrying is the global rise in macular degeneration and insomnia, not just in office workers but in anyone who uses screens for long periods of time, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and other digital devices.

At that time, there was very little information about this on the internet but I did find one helpful article on the Harvard Medical School website titled Blue light has a dark side. It explained that blue light at night interrupts melatonin production, which makes it difficult to get to sleep, and advised against using screens for 2-3 hours before bedtime.

Finally I was making progress. But this still didn’t explain why I might have an increased risk for macular degeneration.

Then I read about a study conducted at the University of Todelo, Ohio, in which researchers had found that excessive exposure to blue light from screens causes poisonous molecules to be generated in photoreceptor cells. This kills the cells and unfortunately, they do not regenerate as other cells do, which is why macular degeneration is incurable. Finally, I felt I had all the elements of the puzzle.


I’m happy to say that I still use my computer but now I can fall asleep as easily as I always used to and annual eye-checks have confirmed my eyes are now in excellent health. I don’t pretend to be an expert in this field, but for anyone who is interested, here are the lifestyle changes and solutions that have worked for me.

1. Blue light filters on screens
First, I tried installing free screen-dimming software such as f.lux and Iris. These automatically dim screens according to the time of day and claim to filter out blue light (they are the PC/Android equivalent of the Night Shift feature that Apple has introduced for their iPhones, iPods and iPads). However, the software didn’t make any noticeable difference to my eye or sleep problems so I continued my hunt.

Next, I tried blue-light-reflecting glasses from an optician but they also did nothing for me.

Then I came across blue-light blocking glasses made by Gunnars, primarily designed for gamers who sit in front of computers for hours each day. I ordered a pair and started using them. Within days, I was sleeping normally again. It was that quick. However, I found that the amber lenses changed the colours on my screens, and after two years’ continuous use, I had to stop wearing them because they made me feel dizzy, most likely because the built-in 0.5 diopter adjustment (to make it easier for eyes to look at computer screens) didn’t suit my particular vision.

Finally, I arrived at a solution that works perfectly for me. I now use anti-blue light screen filters that simply slot over each computer screen and block the most harmful portion of the blue light spectrum (420nm – 460nm, with 450nm ± 10nm as the peak point). This is the range that has the most dramatic impact on vision health and also ensures that image colours remain true instead of turning a hue of orange. There is mounting evidence, too, that blue light exposure can exacerbate photo-aging, wrinkles, skin laxity, and hyperpigmentation, so covering the entire screen with a filter gives protection for skin as well as eyes.

The anti-blue light filters I use are available direct from Fiara in Australia, have been rigorously tested. and are very reasonably priced. The range also includes filters for iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, laptops, and LED TVs. Another company that has excellent products is the UK-based Ocushield, which ships worldwide. And the blue-light-blocking glasses made by Block Blue Light in the UK are made to the same standard.

2. Good quality lighting
I had a commercial Solatube skylight installed in my home office to bring in as much natural daylight as possible. And if I work in the evening, I use halogen lights, never LED lights, because LEDs emit a very much higher level of blue light. Halogens use more electricity than LEDs but the light they emit is very much kinder and healthier for our eyes. They are the closest thing to old-fashioned incandescent lights which, although energy-guzzling, did no harm to our eyes at all.

3. No digital devices in the bedroom
I never use digital devices late at night or in bed except for my Kindle Paperwhite, which uses e-ink technology that is kind to eyes and emits only negligible blue light. It’s as eye-friendly as reading a printed book. In fact, it’s arguably better because the print can be enlarged to a more easily readable size. I also use amber blue-light-blocking light bulbs while reading at night or a no-blue amber sleep lamp.

4. Reduced screen brightness
I have reduced the brightness of my screens down to a more comfortable level than the default set by the manufacturer and have positioned my desk so that there is no window glare reflected on the screen.

5. Conscious blinking
I have trained myself to blink more often when working at my computer, and every 20 minutes I look away and blink slowly ten times to lubricate my eyes. To be effective, the blinking has to be done so slowly that it’s at a similar speed to nodding off while watching TV. Some opticians recommend using eye drops instead but I prefer this natural technique instead of putting chemicals in my eyes.

6. Change of focus
Every 20 minutes, I also look away from my screens for at least 20 seconds to something at least 20 feet (600cm) away. This is known as the 20-20-20 rule to help relieve eyes from rigid staring, and I find it helps. It has the added bonus that I also get some of my best writing ideas in these breaks.

7. Good posture
I sit cross-legged and vertical on a bespoke wide, comfortable chair without arms, and my screens are elevated to eye height so that I can look straight ahead without tilting my neck.

8. Regular sleep/wake cycle
I’ve become mostly a 9 till 5 gal. I don’t mean working from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm but sleeping from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am during the summer months and naturally shifting to sleeping from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am during the winter months.  Either way, I get eight hours sleep during the maximum melatonin-producing hours of darkness. It also means I am rested enough not to need an alarm clock to wake up or want to have a lie-in at weekends, which several studies have concluded substantially messes with a person’s body clock and can have health consequences.

9. Sleep in total darkness
The blue spectrum of electric lighting interferes with melatonin production so I never sleep with a light on in my room and use blackout curtains to block out lights from external sources. If I ever need to go to the bathroom during the night, I do so without turning on a light, and when I stay in a hotel, I usually use a small flashlight with a red bulb to help me find my way (red light has little to no effect on melatonin production).

10. Early morning walk
Most days, I take an early morning walk which helps to reset my circadian rhythms for the day.

So that’s what has helped me. And there’s no need to take my word for it because there is now a wealth of scientific information on the internet about this.

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2018, updated 2023

Change Your Bedroom, Change Your Life online course (it includes a substantial section about bedroom lighting)

Related articles
Health effects of blue lights from screens
Teens, tweens and technology

Like to read more articles like this?
Subscribe to my newsletters to receive news, articles and information about upcoming online courses by email. And I promise you – no junk mail ever.

About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui, and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must-read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fifth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
This entry was posted in Healthy home. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to 10 ways to counteract harmful blue light from screens

  1. Hello Karen – thank you for this excellent article.
    Are you able to say anything about why you use three screens? (I’m guessing it may be to make sure you are not looking at the same thing all the time but I may be way off the mark?)
    Also, can you give any info about the bespoke wide chair you mention?
    Thank you and best wishes
    Barbara (Cooke)

    1. Hi Barbara – I find that using more than one screen saves me hours of time and greatly improves my productivity. And the bespoke chair I designed ensures good posture while working, so I don’t feel fatigued. If you’re interested to know more, these and other related topics are covered in depth in my Clear Your Paper and Digital Clutter course.

  2. Dear Karen,

    Thank you for sharing this vital information. in my early 50s I mysteriously began suffering from insomnia. For over 50 years I was like you, falling asleep within minutes of going to bed. Thus, I was mystified when this changed and the only reason I could come up with was this new symptom was being caused by menopause.

    After reading this informative article , I now believe the true culprit is blue light. Since I am in the US, I ordered an iPad screen from Ocushield which has US warehouses.

    I wondered if you have heard of Chromalux Full spectrum light bulbs, and if so what do you think of them. I am thinking of ordering some for the bedroom when I am reading at night. The ones I am looking at are incandescent.

    I see that you use the blue light blocking light bulbs at night for reading. Do you think these perform better for sleep issues than using the Chromalux full spectrum for night time reading?

    I am also looking into blue light blocking glasses to wear at night or in front of my computer.

    Are halogen light bulbs better for our eyes and health than Incandescent bulbs?

    Thank you very much for your response.


  3. Karen, I ordered a Fiara blue light screen protector from Australia through reading your recommendations on these, and although it took a long time to come from OZ, I have to say it is well worth it. I am very impressed with them. Eyes already feel easier when using it and I think it is helping sleep as well. Many thanks for your recommendation.

    1. Hi Pete – Glad to hear this, and yes, the shipping time from Australia can be very slow. It’s one of the reasons why Richard and I moved back to the UK last year, to vastly speed up the shipping times for products ordered by customers from our online store.

    1. Hi Peter – They are very durable. I’ve had my TV, computer and laptop screens for years and they are as good as new. Just be careful to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.

  4. Dear Karen. Thank you for a very comprehensive reply. I haven’t worn sunscreen for decades. As you suggest, more research is needed on my part.

  5. Dear Karen. Thank you for compiling this very informative article. I have prescription sunglasses. Do you know if these would be effective at blocking ‘blue light’? Thank you.

    1. Hi Sally – As I understand it, polarized sunglasses are designed to block blue light but regular sunglasses do not. However, my article is about the harmful effects of artificial blue light from screens. I’m not advocating blocking natural light from the sun, except if necessary to relieve glare when driving.

      John Ott, a pioneer in the field of photobiology and author of the international bestseller, Health and Light, recommends sunbathing the eyes as a cure for many ailments and recounts that cancer was unknown in Congolese natives until they started wearing sunglasses as a status symbol of civilization.

      In his preface to another remarkable book (John Lieberman’s Light Medicine of the Future, he explains: ‘Life on Earth existed under natural sunlight and has existed for quite some time under the full spectrum of light that it contains. Many prehistoric tribes and even entire civilizations worshipped the sun for its healing powers, using its full spectrum of light to treat physical and mental problems, a practice known as “heliotherapy”. Yet modern scientific medical research now claims that sunlight is hazardous to people’s health, and all sorts of special eyeglasses and sunscreen lotions are marketed to give complete protection. Major financial interests have come into play, sometimes making the truth even more obscure.’

      I have never used sunscreen ever, and during the 20 years I lived in tropical Bali, I never even owned a pair of sunglasses. I only wear them now when driving in the harsh sunlight of Perth, Australia. When spending any other time outdoors, I never wear them. I suggest you do your own research into this topic.

  6. Hi Karen, thank you for this article on a very important topic. Regarding the elasticity of the eye, it made me recall an article I read a few years back about a woman in her 60s+ (70s?) who increased the health of her eyes tremendously by lying in her bed every day, spending 10-15 minutes quickly looking at the different corners of the ceiling. Just by making the eyes move rapidly back and forth, circular and up and down, improved her eyesight quite remarkably. I think that may be a good exercise for us staring at the computer all day long.

  7. I’ve been using a free desktop app called F.lux for the last few months. It changes the light of the screen as per the time of day it is or time you set that you wake up at. Quite handy really. It also helps reduce the harmful rays of the computer.

    1. Hi Janet

      I mention screen-dimming software such as f.lux and Iris in the article. They dim the amount of light being emitted by a screen and change the colour, but they don’t actually block the harmful spectrum of blue light. For me, using this type of software didn’t make any difference at all, which is why I continued looking until I found something that did.

  8. Dear Karen, thank you so much for this. I’m going to give myself this screen for Christmas.

    I’ve also posted your article on one of my Facebook accounts so others can learn more about you. ♥

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Clear Space Living Ltd
PO Box 11171, Sleaford
NG34 4FR, United Kingdom

UK Company No: 12067211
VAT Reg No: 339 267 376

International Directory
of Practitioners

All countries