20 September 2019

Does ‘Dark Mode’ prevent eye strain?

In advance of the release of Apple’s new operating system IOS 13, The College of Optometrists has issued the following comment:

The ‘dark mode’ feature on the new IOS is described as ‘easier on your eyes’, and many people may already have a similar feature on their smartphones, but it’s important to know that there is no evidence that screen use causes harm or damage to the eyes. Night mode may be useful in reducing the overall screen brightness and improving screen contrast, but there is little published evidence available to say this is effective in reducing eyestrain. 

If using a device at night, dark mode or night shift features may be preferable to device users. Here is the College’s advice on how to avoid eye strain is to:

  • Apply the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. That will give your eye muscles a rest.
  • Try to blink regularly. 
  • Position your device screen so that it is between 40 and 75cm from your eyes and is held below the level of your eyes 
  • Use a text size that is easy to see. Make things larger if needed
  • Avoid using a screen when very tired
  • If you are affected by dry eye, consider using lubricating eye drops. 

Most importantly, have regular sight tests and wear glasses if you have been prescribed them. If you have concerns about eye strain speak to your optometrist. 

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, Clinical Adviser, College of Optometrists. 

ENDS

Related further reading

This paper describes the common visual problems associated with learning disability in adult patients.

This study reports on an audit carried out in the emergency eye care (EEC) service at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Kathy Oxtoby asks how optometrists can communicate effectively with patients who cannot verbally communicate.