Technology advancements have driven the number of people who work on a computer or laptop quite high in the past decade. As of 2019, seventy four percent of American’s own a computer or laptop; this does not account for the rest of the globe. Many computer users spend time in front of the screen in the dark or dim environments, but is this bad for their eyes?
There is no documented long term danger of working on a computer in the dark, including worse vision or eye health issues. However, improper lighting will tire your eyes out far quicker and can lead to headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and other problems in the short term.
When working on a computer in the dark, several possible side effects may occur. It is important to know, working on a computer in the dark will not cause long term rare or serious condition to the eyes. If you prefer to work on a computer in the dark or your work environment is not well lit there are several things you can do to avoid side effects.
What Happens to the Eyes When Working on a Computer in the Dark?
There are several common impacts that occur to the human eye when working in the dark. Also, consider there are many myths about computers and working in the dark along with additional myths about eyes in general.
If you work on a computer in the dark, keep reading to understand what happens to your eyes:
- Eye Strain. Eye strain is caused my muscle fatigue of the ocular muscles. Eye strain can occur from overuse of a computer or working in the dark on a computer. Eye strain is common for most people who work on computers.
- Dry and Irritated Eyes. When our eyes become tired, we tend to blink less. This leads to dry and irritated eyes. Working on a computer in general or a computer in the dark will lead to dry and irritated eyes. When staring at the computer for long periods, we tend to forget to blink.
- Headaches. When our eyes become tired, headaches can set in. Just like other muscles in the body, when fatigued, other symptoms may occur. Headaches are common for people who work on computers for long durations.
- Feeling of Pressure Behind the Eyes. Between ocular muscle fatigue and staring at the same color of screen, the feeling of pressure can build behind the eyes. Working on a computer in a lit area or dark area is unique to watching a movie. When watching a movie, the screen changes color. With computer screens, our eyes are subject to staring at one dense color such as blue or white.
- Blurry Vision. All the above factors can cause for blurry vision. Eye strain developing from dry and irritated eyes, ocular muscle fatigue, headaches, and the feeling of pressure behind the eyes usually results in blurry vision.
There are some methods you can use to help with blurry vision which also help to eliminate the other common side effects of working on a computer, which we’ll talk about later in the article.
Myths About Working on a Computer in the Dark
- Working on a Computer in the Dark Will Harm Your Eyes. There is no scientific evidence that working on a computer in the dark will harm your eyes. Ophthalmologists do not encourage working on a computer in the dark as it will cause eye strain. However, no permanent or long-term damage will occur.
- Working on a Computer in the Dark Will Affect Your Eyesight. Working on a computer in the dark will not affect your eyesight long term. Rather, the affect is short term due to not blinking and causing eye muscle fatigue.
- Working on a Computer in the Dark Will Lead to Using Glasses. Working on a computer in the dark will not lead you to have to use glasses. Using a computer over the years or long periods of staring at a device screens may result in the need for glasses.
Things to Consider When Working on a Computer in the Dark
- Adjust the Brightness of the Screen. Using your computer settings, you can decrease the brightness of the computer screen. This is especially important if you use a computer in a dim or dark environment. Not decreasing the brightness is like a flashlight in your eyes when you are in the dark. Go to Settings, System, then Display.
- Increase the Screen Contrast. Like a photograph, increasing the contrast makes the picture stand out better. The same applies to increasing a computer screen’s contrast. By increasing the screens contrast, the words and letters will stand out more making it easier on your eyes. Go to Settings, System, then Display.
- Use a Source of Lighting. If possible, use some type of light source. Open a window blind or shade or install a light close to the computer screen. There are also computer lights that you can put directly on your computer screen to help offset eye strain and fatigue.
- Get Rid of Glare. Most people enjoy sunlight beaming through their windows. However, this can also cause glare causing eye strain. If sunlight is glaring on your computer screen, move the computer facing the window or close the blinds/curtains to reduce the glare.
- Increase Font Size. Increasing font size is easy to do. If you are typing a document, you can increase the font size on the document helping you see what you are typing better. If you are reading a document or something on the internet, you can increase the font size in your computer settings. Go to Settings, System, then Display.
- Use f-lux Screen Application. This software application automatically adjusts your screen according to the light of the room. This “chameleon” affect helps improve the appearance of your screen. Learn more about f-lux.
- Remember to Blink Often. Blinking helps re-moisturize your eyes reducing fatigue and other symptoms. One way to remember to blink is to set a timer.
- Take a Break. Walking away from your computer screen not only gives you a chance to stretch or move around, but it also gives your eyes a much-needed rest as well.
- Use Eye Drops. Using an eye drop to moisturize your eyes can help with eye strain and fatigue. Regular use will help as long as you put the eye drops in your eyes before they get too dry and irritated.
- Wear Computer Glasses. There are glasses available to help with computer eye strain by reducing a computer screens blue light. It is always best to consult with your eye doctor prior to using computer screen glasses to aid with computer screen eye strain.
- Purchase a Blue Light Blocker for Your Computer Screen. Depending on the blue light screen blocker, this assistive device can be fairly spendy. A Blue Light Blocker with the highest level of UV Ray blocking are the best.
- Turn on the Blue Light Filter. Turning on the blue light filter is easy. Depending on your computer settings and screen settings, with a few clicks or taps, you can filter out blue light. Refer to your device’s instruction manual or research your device on the internet to find how to turn on the blue light filter.
While working on a computer in the dark is not bad for you, it can pose some issues for your eyes such as eye strain, fatigue, and headaches. None of these symptoms indicate a permanent or long-term problem, however, it is best to reduce the glare and other factors that create discomfort for your eyes. With a few simple steps and habits, you can help eliminate stress on your eyes.
Hamid Tahir is a Mechatronics Engineer and founder of WFH Overload. He is currently working from home and is dedicated to the continuous improvement of his home office setup. Hamid has extensive experience setting up workspaces and dealing with the related tech. He hopes to share his knowledge to help you create the most productive and comfortable work from home setup. Read More