Is Switching Your Devices to Dark Mode Better for Your Eyes?

Dark mode is a setting available on many digital devices to reduce eye strain associated with staring at a bright white screen. This setting is a more comfortable alternative to the bright default setting on most screens.

Is dark mode really better for your eyes? Find out from an eye doctor.

Your Eyes and Digital Screens

American office workers spend an average of seven hours a day on the computer. Many people experience eye discomfort and vision problems due to this extensive amount of screen time. Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS) refers to a cluster of eye and vision problems caused by prolonged use of digital devices. The level of discomfort appears to increase proportionally with the amount of screen time.

CVS is characterized by eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck and shoulder pain. These symptoms are triggered by poor lighting, glare from screens, poor seating posture, uncorrected vision problems or wearing the wrong prescription eyeglasses.

Some symptoms dissipate when the user steps away from the computer. However, some individuals continue to experience symptoms even when not looking at a screen. The symptoms will persist and become worse with future computer use if the cause of the problem isn’t addressed.

Even the slightest vision problem can cause significant discomfort while using digital devices. Uncorrected vision problems are major contributing factors to CVS. Regular eye exams can help detect early signs of vision problems and ensure you have the proper prescription glasses.

Comfort in Dark Mode

Many devices now offer a dark mode setting, in which text is displayed in a light color on a dark background to make reading easier, especially at night. Apple’s System 7 OS was one of the first platforms to support the feature to make viewing easier for those with visual impairments. The accessibility feature was called CloseView, and it allowed users to switch the display to a white-on-black color scheme. Windows 95 and later Windows XP offered similar settings.

Twitter introduced dark mode for Android phones in 2016, a setting that transforms the background of the page to a charcoal gray color. In 2018, the feature was made available in popular platforms such as Reddit, YouTube and Facebook’s Messenger app.

Problems With Bright Screens

Ashlie Ford, a Twitter senior product designer, mentioned that people had been asking for the dark mode feature on the website. People who browse the website at night say the stark white background hurt their eyes. The black background fixed this issue for many users.

Reddit users, many of whom are gamers, complained of the same problem. These individuals usually play at night and the bright screen can become distracting. Typically, they wear blue light blocking eyeglasses or use ambient lights behind digital displays.

According to Jonathan Chow, the Reddit senior UX designer who took charge of the design of the site’s desktop night mode, among their highest priorities was helping people with light sensitivity and visual impairments.

Consult your local eye doctor if you’re experiencing persistent discomfort or difficulties when viewing digital screens. An underlying vision issue may be causing eye discomfort.

Is Dark Mode Better for Your Eyes?

Black text on a white background is still better when it comes to readability. White reflects all wavelengths in the color spectrum. Thus, your iris doesn’t need to open wider to absorb sufficient light, meaning it can remain in its natural shape. The lens isn’t being altered, so you can see things more sharply, especially high-contrast colors such as black, which absorbs wavelengths.

Your iris needs to open up more when you’re viewing white text on a black background. This can deform your lens and make the white letters appear to bleed into the black background. This is known as the halation effect, which is experienced by 50 percent of people who have astigmatism.

At Progressive Eyecare, we offer a wide selection of eyeglasses that can correct different vision problems, including astigmatism. Our specialists can help you select the best frames and optometric plan for your vision needs and lifestyle. A great pair of glasses can give you clear vision and enhance your features.

Dark mode can ease visual discomfort, but it’s not always beneficial. It can reduce eye strain under low-light environments, especially at night or in dimly lit working spaces, but it’s not helpful in bright conditions.

Easing Digital Eye Strain

There are various solutions to digital eye strain. Symptoms are usually alleviated with regular eye care and changes in how you view the screen.

Ideally, the screen should be four or five inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes. Place reference materials above the keyboard and below the monitor. This is so you don’t have to move your head when looking from the document to the monitor. Install blinds or drapes on windows to avoid glare.

Even if you don’t normally need corrective eyewear, you may experience relieve by investing in computer eyeglasses. If you do already wear eyeglasses, you may find that your prescription doesn’t include blue light-blocking capabilities. Eyeglasses or contact lenses prescribed for general use may not be suitable for computer use. You may need lenses prescribed to meet the visual demands of computer work.

It’s important to give your eyes a break. Rest your eyes for 15 minutes after every two hours of continuous computer use. You should also follow the 20-20-20 rule where you look 20 feet away from the screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

Turn to Progressive Eye Care, your local optometrist, for your eye care needs. Call us at (702) 744-8005 for North Las Vegas, (702) 723-4008 for Summerlin or (702) 357-8202 for Southwest Las Vegas. You can also complete our online form to schedule an appointment. We assist patients in North Las Vegas, South Las Vegas, Summerlin Las Vegas and nearby areas in NV.