Tips and apps to reduce eye strain on all your Apple devices

Tension and eye strain are often the result of light color and blue light. But Apple offers built-in tools to avoid that. The dark blue tone light inging out of your iPhone, iPad or Mac can cause eye strain, leading to headaches, lack of concentration and dry eyes. There are a number of different and easy ways to modify your screen, reducing the blue light so that you feel better.

Because eye strain is a common problem, Apple has integrated some blue light regulators into its devices. There are also third-party apps that provide additional light-sensitive features for you to customize. In this article, we'll show you different ways you can adjust the blue light from the screen on your Apple devices.

Adjust Built-in Apple Features

You can adjust your iPhone, iPad, or Mac screen options right from your device. Here are some different eye strain modifications that you can make in settings.

Auto-Brightness

Apple's Auto Brightness feature uses the built-in ambient light sensor to measure light in your environment and adjust the brightness of your display accordingly. This saves your eyes from having to adjust to the harsh differences between your surroundings and your screen.

To turn on Auto-Brightness on your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size. Tap the Auto-Brightness slider to turn it on (which turns it green).

To turn on Auto-Brightness on your Mac, click on the Apple Menu > System Preferences > Displays, then click Display. Enable the Automatically adjust brightness option.

Night Shift

Night Shift is a feature that reduces the blue light of the screen (activating hormones that keep you awake), resulting in a warmer sound that won't stop you from falling asleep. If you're sensitive to computer screens, keeping Night Shift all day or at least after sunset, can help you reduce eye strain.

You can set Night Shift on your iPhone or iPad by swiping down from the top of the screen to open the Control Center. If your iPhone has a Home button, slide up from the bottom of the screen instead.

Then press and hold on the Brightness Slider to make three buttons appear beneath it. Tap the middle icon, Night Shift, to turn on Night Shift setting.

You can also access Night Shift by going through your iOS settings. Head to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift. Here you'll see a timer setting for Night Shift.

Night Shift’s default setting is to turn on at sunset and turn off at sunrise. You can adjust this to specific times by turning on the Scheduled slider and setting a custom time. You can keep Night Shift on all day by changing the times to 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM.

On your Mac, go to the Apple Menu > System Preferences. Click Displays. Click the Night Shift tab and edit the settings to configure Night Shift on your Mac.

Dark Mode

A third option to reduce strain on your Apple Devices is to turn on Dark Mode. Unlike Night Shift (which makes your screen look orange), Dark Mode converts your phone display to a darker color scheme, making the background dark grey or black and the text white.

This reduces the amount of bright white light that your screen emits.

Just like Night Shift, enable Dark Mode by opening Control Center on your iPhone or iPad. Then press and hold the Brightness Slider to make three buttons appear.

Tap on the left button, Dark Mode, to turn on this setting.

You can also add Dark Mode as a convenient shortcut to the Control Center on your iPhone or iPad. To do so, go to Settings > Control Center and add Dark Mode (under More Controls).

Dark Mode will now be a feature on your Control Center that you can easily tap on or off.

To turn on Dark Mode on your Mac, go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > General. Click the Dark option at the top of the screen.

Try These Third-Party Apps

If you've tried Apple's built-in features and don't like them (or maybe you're still having headaches), then there are also plenty of third-party apps for you to try out. Here are some applications that use different techniques to reduce eye strain.

Nocturne (Mac)

Nocturne is a Mac-only app that offers the benefits of Dark Mode with some extra visual features. You can make your display totally black and white, choose a monochrome palette, disable shadow effects, and adjust tints.

While the user interface is a bit dated, you’ll find plenty of different settings to accommodate your eyes’ sensitivities.

Download: Nocturne for macOS (Free)

F.lux (Mac)

F.lux is one of the most popular lighting tuning applications. It adjusts your screen brightness (brightness and nuances) based on your time of day and is configured to help you maximize productivity during the day and prepare for sleep at night. Its custom lighting settings are based on scientific research related to light and sleep.

F.lux is available on Mac for free, and easy to download. But if you need to jailbreak an iPhone or iPad to get F.lux on it, which is hardly worth the effort when you already have Night Shift.

Download: F.lux for macOS (Free)

Eye Relax (iPhone, iPad)

Rather than automatically adjusting settings on your devices, Eye Relax invites you to make eye health part of your daily routine. The app offers several different relaxation and refocusing exercises to reduce eye strain and help impact your productivity.

Eye Relax includes a built-in exercise timer, as well as some great free exercises (extra exercises can be purchased through the app).

Download: Eye Relax for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

Time Out (Mac)

Time Out is a great app that works on your Mac to help you train yourself to take more screen breaks. On its default setting, Time Out will automatically fade your screen to give you a 10-minute break every hour or a 15-second break every 15 minutes.

You can customize each break to play soothing music, recite a poem, or run a script, and if you’re in the middle of something, you can delay your break until later.

Download: Time Out for macOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

Iris (Mac)

PWM flickering is common on monitors. Essentially, the screen turns off for a few milliseconds and then on again to help reduce energy usage. However, while PWM is at a low enough frequency to be noticeable, it triggers multiple contractions and expansions of your pupils, which increases eye fatigue.

Iris is a Mac-compatible app that not only reduces blue light, but also reduces PWM flickering on your computer screen.

Download: Iris for macOS (Premium subscription required)

If Settings and Apps Aren’t Enough

It is likely that changing your device settings and downloading these additional apps still does not completely overcome your symptoms of eye strain. If these digital solutions are not enough for you, it may be time to consider buying specialized wearables (such as blue light glasses) or adjusting your working style to dramatically cut down on device life.

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