Did you know that old computers used to show green text on a black background and there was a reason why? That reason was because the old computer monitors had a high flicker rate so they used phosphor to create a long text afterglow to solve that issue and the green color had the longest emission time.
So historically we used to use computers with black backgrounds with either white or green text.
As monitor technology improved we progressed to sharper more color options, but it feels like we are wanting to go back to the good old days of the early computers with the Dark Mode option on apps.
Those who are fans of using their computer programs or cellphone apps in Dark Mode might say they do it because they like the look and also it is easier on their eyes. But, does dark mode help your eyes?
We went looking into the benefits and hype around around the difference between dark mode vs light mode display setting.
What is Dark Mode?
Dark mode is a display setting option that is available on Apple, Windows and Android cellphones and computers. What happens is instead of seeing a white background with darker text the display will switch to showing a darker background color with brighter text colors.
Most people might see a popular app on their phone like Twitter or Facebook go from showing black text on a white background to white text on a black background.
What Can Dark Mode Do or Not Do for Your Eyes?
1. Dark Mode for Reduction in Blue Light
Dark mode does assist with reducing your blue light exposure levels coming from a digital screen. It does this by adjusting the color temperature of the screen to emit more red or orange light to reduce the blue light spectrum.
Blue light is needed to help set out daily sleep wake cycle known as the circadian rhythm. The hormone that helps to set our body clock is melatonin.
Normal melatonin timing is disturbed if we are exposed to the blue and green light wavelengths between 400 - 550nm after dark.
This is where using a dark mode display setting in low light periods like late afternoon and the evening could assist you in reducing your eyes seeing lots of this sleep disturbing light wavelength coming from a digital display on your cellphone or laptop.
However, dark mode alone won't solve the problem of managing your blue light exposure from digital screens as you will also have lights on in the house that also emit blue light. For this reason we would also suggest wearing our recommended pair of blue light glasses in the evening when working on a computer or scrolling social media apps on your tablet or smartphone.
2. Dark Mode to Make Text Easier to Read
Normal light modde setting means you will be trying to read black text on a white background. Dark mode switches this to you reading white or green text on a background.
Dark mode can make contrast between text and the background color less. So in terms of readability dark mode can lower readability ease if you have white text on a black background.
When you look at a black background your pupils will dilate to let more light in. This also means visual acuity can be less meaning the outline of text looks less sharp.
You will find that you might need to custom adjust your dark mode setting to be able to get a level of contrast that is best for your vision. The W3C has recommendations for better contrast readability options on web pages that shows when you would want brighter text on a black background vs black text on a white background.
3. Dark Mode to Help Digital Eye Strain
Staring at a digital screen can lead to people experiencing what is known as digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome.
Heavy users of their computer also look to use the dark mode setting on their Mac or Windows devices to help ease the fatigue on their eyes from looking at a bright screen.
Dark Mode might have some benefits to help reduce the eye strain by, reducing the levels of stimulating blue light your eyes see.
If you plan on reading text for long periods then as we learnt above that you actually need more contrast to allow your eyes to read the text more easily, which can help reduce eye strain.
Instead of relying only on dark mode to help reduce eye strain and protect your eyes from computer screens we have other recommendations.
We suggest installing a blue light filter software like f.lux or Iris Tech which have a lot of benefits like reducing flicker, reducing blue light levels and custom setting your brightness and contrast levels with their different mode options.
We also suggest using our BluLite computer glasses during the day and wearing our Sleep+ blue light glasses in the evening when working on a computer to help reduce eye strain better than dark mode can.
Activating the Dark Mode setting option on your iPhone or computer is a good option to use to help your eyes, to some degree, along with enjoying the look of apps and websites in a dark mode theme.
Using only dark mode to help your eye health is not recommended as it is not as powerful in reducing the harmful effects from looking at computer screens as using blue light filter software options and also wearing blue light glasses during the day or evening.