Getting the Blue Out

This article doesn’t just apply to Tesla, but it can be a big issue with a Tesla because of the two screens, one quite large for a car, with LED backlights.  This is a problem that could apply to any electronic display that uses LEDs for backlighting.


A little bit of technical background is necessary here.  White LEDs appeared on the market over a decade ago and they are becoming increasingly common in everything.  Most recently they have pretty much entirely replaced compact florescent lights for LCD monitors.  They have a lot of advantages over the old style backlights, LEDs consume less energy, they don’t grow dim with age, and they put off less heat.


There is a downside to white LEDs and some of us are the canary in the coal mine.  White LEDs are blue LEDs with a coating to make the light appear white, but the resulting light spectrum is not the same as any other type of electric light, nor is it the same as sunlight.  White LEDs have a spike in the blue spectrum that most people don’t notice consciously, but it can mess with your eyesight.


Some people are more sensitive to blue than others.  It hasn’t even been known until recently, but people who are more sensitive to blue can get headaches and eyestrain from LED backlights.  Some people are like me, they know it within about 1/2 an hour.  For me, it feels like someone is trying to pull out my eyes.  For others, they just have a little more eyestrain when using the computer, but chalk it up to something else.


When I got my Tesla, my eyes started to get the getting pulled out of their sockets feeling about the time I got 2/3 of the way home from the service center.  Needless to say, my first night with the car was depressing.


I started researching what was available in screen protectors for the car that block the extra blue.  I found some hints here and there that some brands blocked at least some blue, but they were vague on how much.  This is what I found:


a) Glareshield – this is made by a paint protection film company and can only be installed by people who do that brand of wrap. One price I found was $90 and nobody in Portland does it, so that was a dead end. They advertise 35% blue reduction, which was the best I found, but they only make it for the center screen, not the instruments.
b) Abstract Ocean – They have 4 types of screen protection available on Amazon, relatively cheap (under $20), but only available for the center screen. They need to make one for the instrument screen too.  They make a number of accessories for Teslas.
c) Topfit – also available on Amazon, but the Amazon descriptions are rather thin. On another site I found they do have blue reduction (but don’t say hoe much), and offer an instrument protector.  They are thin glass (stiff rather than flexible). They are more expensive then Abstract Ocean, but they are the only instrument protection I could find.  The stiffness makes their protectors very easy to install.
d) NuShield – These guys make the biggest deal about blue related eye strain and make blue reducing screen protectors for many cars as well as many commercial computer screens. They advertise blue 32% reduction. You have to order directly from them and they are on the east coast, so it takes longer to get to me than Amazon.


I bought center screen protectors from Abstract Ocean and NuShield and the instrument protector from Topfit.  I haven’t installed the NuShield because the Abstract Ocean protector did the job.  Getting all the dust off the center screen to get the Abstract Ocean protector installed took a while.  I had to turn off all air circulation in the car, then sit out in the bright sun catching dust specs as they landed on the screen.  Because the screen is electrostatically charged, it attracts dust.  I finally got all the dust and it installed without issue.


The screen protectors work so well I don’t even think about them anymore.  I’m holding the NuShield as a spare for the center screen.  From handling the material, the NuShield protector was a bit heavier weight and may do a slightly better job, but any improvement would be minimal.


My partner has an iMac and she’s been having some headaches and eyestrain, but nothing as severe as what I had.  I suggested getting an anti-blue screen protector for her Mac and she was willing to try it.  Since installing it she has said she doesn’t get headaches anymore after a long day on the computer.  I’m pretty sure the blue filter helped.


This is a potential issue with any screen that has an LED backlight, in a car, a portable device, or a computer.  It can also be an issue with LED light bulbs too.  I first discovered this problem when I bought some LED light bulbs for the house and had horrible headaches and eyestrain within a few hours of installing them.  I’m stuck with old fashioned light bulbs.


If you’re getting headaches and/or eyestrain, it might be your LEDs.