The dark mode revolution started in our gadgets a few years back. Popular apps like Gmail, YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter started rolling out their darker versions while a few forward-thinking brands like Spotify began with a dark background. Today, our phones and tablets have a default dark mode setting where you need to hit the Settings to invert your entire display from bright dazzling white to classy cool dark.
The primary reason for dark mode’s popularity is apparent. Its proponents say that the mode helps our eye health by reducing blue light exposure from our screens and thus assisting our sleep cycle and reducing digital strain. But are these claims true?Does dark mode truly help our eyes, or are we merely believing some marketing fantasy? Let us explore the dark mode effect on eyes here and state what you can do about the blue light menace.
Blue light and eye health
Blue light exposure became a concern for humanity a few years back that paved the way for the dark mode revolution. We learned that blue light slows down melatonin or sleep hormone production and can disrupt our natural circadian rhythm. We also learned that blue light accelerates cortisol or stress hormone production. That is how we stay alert during the day when the sun shines brightly and floods all of us with blue light.
The white light we receive from our phones contains the blue light spectrum. And when we operate in light mode, we see more white and thus receive more blue light. Unfortunately, biologically, our eyes cannot filter out blue light. So along with disrupting sleep and stressing us out, blue light reaching our retinas can lead to faster age-related macular degeneration or loss of eyesight.
Enter dark mode
Humanity realized that it is impossible to live in the 21st-century without screens. Our current lifestyles require us to hop from one screen to another, but we do not want the ill effects of blue light sending our eye health for a toss. Hence, gadget manufacturers and app developers came up with the dark mode where the idea was to reduce blue light exposure by inverting the popular black-text-on-white-background format to a white-text-on-black-background layout.
Does the cool darker mode work?
We do not have any conclusive evidence about dark mode’s effects on eyes to date. But users of this mode and a few sporadic pieces of research have brought positive stories to light.
Many users have reported that they can sleep faster and better by using their phones in this mode after they have turned off the lights. Scientifically, this might have some ground because the limited white light supply means that blue light reaches our eyes comparatively at lower levels.
This mode is also known to reduce digital eye strain (DES). According to a Digital Eye strain study published in the British Medical Journal back in 2018, 50% of computer users suffer from the DES medical syndrome that tends to cause dry eyes and headaches. It is touted as the solution to such people, although research around this claim is ongoing.
Some researchers also claim that dark mode alone is not the hero. Reducing the brightness of our computer or phone screen and managing glare from surrounding lights also helps diminish blue light’s effects. In all, many factors work together to make our gadgets friendlier to our eye health.
The other side of the story
Apple conducted a study in 2019 to test the effectiveness of its dark mode called Ipad Night Shift. The researchers found no evidence of the feature enhancing melatonin production compared to a controlled group using their phones in standard bright mode. Another study found that using gadgets in this mode did nothing to our circadian rhythm. What we did on our phones mattered. Like, people playing games on their devices took longer to fall asleep.
Additionally, this mode dilates your pupils due to the lack of bright light. It means that our eyes allow more blue light to flow in from our surroundings, ultimately reducing the positive impact of the gadget’s dark mode.
What can you do?
First up, accept that dark mode in your gadget may or may not help your eyes. We are yet to have any conclusive evidence on either side. And two, if you are worried about blue light exposure from your screens and surroundings, invest in blue-light-blocking eyewear. These spectacles come with a blue light filter. Dark mode or not, the eyeglasses can help keep out blue light and preserve your eye’s health in every way possible.
For quality blue-light-blocking eyewear that is both economical and stylish, visit your nearest Optica stores. Or, you can browse the inventory on the website and order online. Optica is all about bringing top-notch eyeglasses to you and this is where you can effectively begin your blue-light-free life.