Dark Mode 101

What is Dark Mode and is It Better for Your Eyes?

Posted May 7, 2020 | Tips, Tricks & Tech

Who knew that inverted colors on smart phone screens would be the next big thing? The popular light-on-dark color scheme, or “dark mode,” has become increasingly sought-after in the last couple of years.

What does dark mode do? Dark mode swaps out dark text for light colored text and puts that light text on a dark or black background. Dark mode can also change graphics into lighter versions and any image with a transparent background (typically a PNG file) will match the dark surroundings.

Putting white text on a black background has been called sleek, modern, and even better than the typical dark-on-light layout. But is it actually better for your eyes? Keep reading to learn more.

Are there any benefits to using dark mode?

Yes and no. Dark mode looks cool, but there isn’t much data pointing to actual benefits of using it, such as reduced eye strain. Some may think that dark mode preserves battery, but this is typically only on devices that use OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays.

Is dark mode better for your eyes?

As stated, there is not a ton of data about the health benefits of dark mode. However, a good rule of thumb is that in low-light scenarios—such as lying in bed at night with your phone—dark mode is dimmer than the conventional dark text on a bright background. You may find dark mode provides a more comfortable experience. This can also mean less squinting at your screen.

In the opposite scenario, using dark mode when your surroundings are light may cause you to squint at your screen in order to see it better, which may cause strain.

Is dark mode good or bad?

It’s neither, and in the absence of medical research your decision comes down to comfort. One thing to note that is if you have astigmatism, it may be even harder for you to consume content in dark mode. According to the American Optometric Association, astigmatism is the improper curvature of your eye’s cornea or lens, which can cause visual distortions. Dark mode may already be harder to view in certain lighting scenarios and could be that much more so for people with astigmatism.

Should I use dark mode?

Up to you! If you’d like, you can check your device for settings to automatically enable dark mode between sunset and sunrise. This way, you don’t even have to think about conflicting light scenarios.

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