Is Dark Mode really better for your eyes?
Dark Mode is all the rage. It is supposedly better on the eyes, but science tells us this is not always the case. Let’s find out what the exceptions are.
Windows, iOS, Android, Google search, Chrome, even apps like Word already have their own Dark Mode. For decades we have used the classic dark color typefaces on a white background, but now they recommend us to use the Dark Mode. Is it really better for our eyes?
The white background / black ink setting is an inheritance from the age of paper, and is well suited to this medium, because a paper does not glow. But a screen does, and the brightness is enhanced when we use a white background.
Dark Mode proposes the opposite situation: black background with white ink (although there are variations). Is it really better for our eyes?
Our colleague Andrea Núñez-Torrón has been investigating the issue in TICBeat, and the conclusions are interesting, because we can say that Dark Mode is not the best in certain cases.
We must first ask ourselves: why is it used white background with black ink since it was possible to manufacture white paper? By the physiology of our eyes, with that configuration the texts are easier to read.
White reflects all the colors in the spectrum, which means that a white background prevents the pupil from having to open wide to let in light. Also, because of the way our eyes work, they react more strongly to light texts on a dark background.
Therefore, a priori, for the eyes it is more comfortable and less laborious to read on a white background with black ink.
But it also comes into play ambient lighting. If we use a Dark mode in a room with a lot of light, the view will have to strain to switch between the room lighting and the dark mode. The same happens if we are in a dark room looking at a screen with a white background.
Therefore, according to science, it is most desirable that display adjusts to ambient light: During the day or in brightly lit rooms it is better to use the normal mode (white background, black ink), and at night or in dimly lit rooms, the Dark Mode. But there are exceptions.
There are people who are photosensitive, that is, excess light bothers them. It is best for them to always use Dark Mode.
As well It depends on the type of screen we use, the distance, and the time of use. A mobile screen is not the same as working on a 35-inch monitor for 8 hours a day, emitting a large amount of brightness. In that case it would be convenient to use the Dark Mode more often, even with the room well lit.
That is why some apps change the black background for a dark blue background, and even yellow ink on dark blue background, because it does not contrast as much with ambient light as black / white.
Finally, it should also be noted that Dark Mode saves battery, especially on an OLED screen. This is important if you use your mobile or laptop a lot.