Does Using Your Laptop In The Dark Damage Your Eyes?

“Is it bad to use a laptop in the dark?” is a pretty common question you get asked nowadays. You probably heard it from your parents or even your friends. Well, today we explore the truth around that statement.

The short answer to the question is yes, it can be damaging to your eyes if you use your laptop in the dark for a prolonged period of time.

In addition to exploring the reasons why it isn’t recommended to use screens in the dark. We’ll be looking at ways to mitigate that risk. So you can keep your eyes healthy and not have to completely readjust your schedule if you tend to work at night with your laptop.

Why Using Your Laptop In the Dark Damages Your Eyes

Even today people still have mixed opinions about whether using your laptop in the dark is damaging at all. At one end of the spectrum, you’ll have people telling you blindness could be a possible side effect, while on the other end you’ll have those who say it’s nothing but a myth. 

The truth lies somewhere in the middle of that. Researchers from the Lighting Research Center (LRC), part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute conducted a study where they asked volunteers to watch an hour of television on a flat-screen TV, both in a well lit and dark environment.

After they conducted their tests they did find symptoms of eye strain after having watched a movie in a dark environment. Eye strain is basically the fatigue of the muscles within your eyes. Symptoms of eye strain include.

  1. Dry and/or irritated eyes
  2. Headaches
  3. Pressure behind your eyes
  4. Blurring Vision

The reason it occurs when you’re staring at a screen in the dark is because your eyes have to constantly adjust to the varying lighting coming off from the screen. 

The light that’s emitted from the screen is changing constantly when for example your watching a movie. This change in lighting means your eyes have to constantly readjust which in turn leads to eye strain. 

How To Save Your Eyesight

Eye Strain isn’t something that is particularly alarming. Millions of people around the world experience it every day. However, if you experience it on a regular basis then it could weaken your eyesight to the point where you’ll need prescription glasses.

There are various tips and precautions that you can follow in order to avoid eye strain all together and keeps your eyes healthy and for longer. These include

  1. Setup proper lighting.
  2. Adjust your monitor brightness
  3. Increase contrast
  4. Avoid glare on your screen
  5. Increase Font size
  6. Turn on a Blue light filter.

Setup Proper Lighting 

The absolute best way to avoid eye strain from using your laptop in the dark is to just not use it in complete darkness in the first place. Even having a small amount of lighting nearby such as a night light can significantly reduce eye strain.

In addition to this, remember to take regular breaks when using your laptop. Try to look away from your screen once every 30 minutes for at least a couple of minutes. 

You could close your eyes to allow them to get a little rest, or just look around the room your in. The objective here is to make sure you don’t concentrate on a single object for too long as you would when using your laptop. 

Also, avoid using fluorescent lighting whenever possible. Many people have reported that they experience much less eye fatigue when not working with fluorescent lighting. 

White LED lighting is much more suitable if you’re going to be working for long hours on your laptop. Also make sure the environment isn’t bright either, it should closely mimic the brightness of your laptop screen. 

Adjust your Monitor Brightness

When your working in a dark or dimly lit environment, reduce the brightness of your screen so that it matches the lighting in the room your in. 

If you have your brightness pumped up all the way to 100% in a completely dark room, it’s going to be the equivalent of staring directly into a flashlight for hours on end. 

If you begin seeing lines/spots or your vision starts to become blurry. That’s your body telling you to lower the brightness. 

Increase Contrast

Believe it or not but increasing contrast on your laptop screen can greatly reduce eye strain. The higher the contrast, the more easily your eyes will be able to distinguish between different elements on the screen. 

By increasing the contrast words among other objects of interest will be easier to visualize on screen, making your eyes work less. 

We’ve detailed guides on how to turn on high contrast mode on both macOS and Windows down below.

Windows

Step 1: Press the Windows start menu icon

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Step 2: Click on the settings gear icon

Step 3: A window like this will pop up

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Step 4: Click on Ease of Access

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Step 5: Click on High Contrast in the left-hand side menu.

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Step 6: Toggle the slider that says “High Contrast”

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macOS

Step 1: Click the Apple Logo

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Step 2: Click on “System Preferences

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Step 3: A window will pop up with a layout like this

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Step 4: Click on Accessibility

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Step 5: Click on Display in the left-hand menu

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Step 6: Check the box that says “Increase Contrast

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Avoid Glare On your Screen

Glare is another one of the biggest causes of eye strain. If you have your laptop positioned in such a way that direct glare is coming from the lighting sources with the room. Then reposition yourself where glare is either completely diminished or minimal. 

Increase Font Size

Trying to read the tiny text in any setting can be difficult, though when you’re trying to do it in the dark. It can exert extra strain on your eyes. The smaller the font size, the more you’re going to have to focus your vision just to read it.

You should increase the font size to a point where you are easily able to read the text from your eyes around 14-15 inches away from your laptop screen.

We’ve detailed guides on how to change the font size for both Windows and macOS below.

Windows

Step 1: Right-click on the desktop and select “Display Settings

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Step 2: You will be greeted with a window like this

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Step 3: Find the Scale and layout settings to increase the size of text, apps, and other items

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Step 4: The default options are 100% scaling, 125%, 150% and 175%

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Step 5: To set a custom scale click on Advanced scaling settings

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Step 6: Enter a custom scale between 100%-500%, and click apply.

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macOS

Step 1: Click on the Apple logo

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Step 2: Click on System Preferences

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Step 3: You will be greeted with a layout like this

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Step 4: Click on Displays

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Step 5: Click on the scaled checkbox

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Step 6: Click on the box that says larger text

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Step 7: Click Ok when prompted to whether you want to switch to this scaled resolution 

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Turn on a Blue light filter

I’m sure you will have heard by now about how the blue rays that are emitted from your laptop screen are really harmful to your health. Not only do they cause eye strain but they can be the reason why it takes you so long to go to sleep at night after using your laptop. 

Luckily both macOS and Windows support blue light filters natively, so you won’t need to download any third-party application either. We’ve detailed guides on how to enable it for both Windows & macOS below.

Windows

Step 1: Right-click on the desktop and select “Display Settings

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Step 2: You will be greeted with a window like this

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Step 3: Click on the toggle below Night light, by default it will automatically engage at 9:00 pm

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Step 4: To change night lights settings click on Night light settings

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Step 5: You will be greeted with a layout like this

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Step 6: Click on the button “Turn on now” to engage night light

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Step 7: Drag the slider to choose the color temperature of night light 

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Step 8: Toggle schedule night light to set up a schedule for when your night light turns on or off

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macOS

Step 1: Click on the Apple logo

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Step 2: Click on System Preferences

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Step 3: You will be greeted with a layout like this

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Step 4: Click on Displays

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Step 5: Click on Night Light in the upper menu tab

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Step 6: Click on the schedule drop-down to make a schedule for when night light engages and disengages

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Step 7: Drag the color temperature slider to adjust the color temperature of the night light settings from warm to less warm

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Conclusion

After reading through our short but detailed guide you should be familiar with all consequences surrounding using your laptop in the dark. As well as some precautions you can take to reduce eye strain.

If we missed out on anything be sure to let us know in the comments below. 

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