Using a Computer in a Dark Room - Better for Eyes?

When using a computer at night, is it better for the eyes to leave the artificial light off and work in the dark (assuming you don’t need to refer to anything but the screen), or is it better to have the light on? Or no difference?

That depends on the person, the monitor & what type of room light.

Using a computer in a dark room is impossible for me. I never learned to touch type. I can hunt and peck like a madman, though.

Well handy, I’m half-blind anyway, my monitor is a Gateway EV700 17", and the light source in this room is an overhead light fixture with 2 100-watt bulbs.

I learned years ago that you were advised not to watch tv in a completely dark room. The best idea was to have a soft lamp behind the tv set itself (positioned in such a way that it doesn’t shine directly into your eyes), so as to create a moderately bright background and reduce the contrast. Indeed, they were selling special lamps to fix to the back of the set, but any old floor lamp with a, say, 40 - 60 W bulb will do. I still to this today, and it’s indeed a relief for my eyes.

I would assume the same works for computer screens. If, however, you don’t have the possibility to install an extra lamp, it will really depend on your room and the overhead lighting that you have. A glare on the screen from those bulbs, for instance, can be a pain in the … eye.

Oh, two more things I can think off:

  1. That background light should preferably be a warm color, not a naked bulb on a cold white wall.

  2. (probably obvious) If you can’t properly adjust the light in your room (or even if you can), play around with the contrast and brightness settings of your tv/computer screen. The brighter the room, the brighter and more contrasted the picture should be. In a dark room, a less bright picture is easier on the eyes.

When you look at a monitor in a dark room, your pupils are open wider than in a light room. Obviously, this lets more light in. But it also lets in more of the potentially harmful UV radiation that is emitted by TVs and monitors. So using your computer in the dark very often might contribute to cataracts and other eye damage.

On a related note, I occasionally get migraine headaches, which make almost everything look painfully bright ot me. If I still need to get work done I turn off the room lights, turn the monitor brightness all the way up, and put my sunglasses on. This helps a lot, but the rest of the people in the office tend to look at me funny. =B^)


Laugh hard; it’s a long way to the bank.

BTW: Keyboarding in the dark is one way to quickly learn how to touch type. When I was in college and sharing a dorm room, I usually used the computer while my roommate was asleep, so there was no choice but to turn the lights off. Since I couldn’t see to hunt-and-peck, and since I spent a lot of time on a MUD (a networked game requiring typed commands and quick reactions), I was an expert typist before the end of the first semester.

Some secretaries are good typists, the others are just hunt’n peckers. :wink:

Aura, radiation comes out the same no matter how much light there is in the room.

rastahomie, whatever makes your eyes feel best. I think you would type better with more light & I think the people who make monitors think people are going to have a light on.

So many people get bigger monitors these days and say why didn’t I try this before? Bad monitors will put a strain on your eyes.Play with the controls on the monitor as well.

I’ve experimented a lot and use the following setups:

1.) At home, I have a (gack! what’s the word?) one of those lamps that attaches to the edge of the desk and has an articulated neck. I keep it at shoulder heighth so there’s no reflection on the monitor, but I can see the tabletop just fine. No other lights are on.

2.) At the office, I tend to turn off the office overhead lights when I’m working intently on the machine; there’s plenty of light coming in (one glass wall) but it’s much easier on the eyes and, since I use three monitors, no matter how I position them, at least one gets wiped out by glare from an overhead. If I must refer to written materials, I’ll try to keep most of my work on two monitors and use the office lights.

Some tricks. $10 +1.00 or 1.25 reading glasses can magnify your screen to like just amazing sharpness. Even if you have 20/20, they can make it a lot easier to read.

All computer monitor screens flicker to some amount. Room lights also flicker. So you got the two competing with each other and you can really get your brain confused if you choose lighting with the right flicker ratio.

Best way to buy a monitor is in a computer store with the store lights off [those flourescent lights flicker like crazy, somethihng like 150 hz?]. Then buy that exact monitor.

Yeah, radiation comes out the same, you’re right. But like Auraseer said, if the room is dark, then your pupils will be open wider. When your pupils are open wider they will allow more of the harmful UV into your eyes then if the room was bright and your pupils were smaller.

Its sort of like how cheap sunglasses without adaquate UV protection can actually do your eyes more harm then if you weren’t wearing any sunglasses at all. This is because since the tint of the glasses shades your eyes, your pupils open up wider then they would be in daylight. But since the glasses don’t filter UV, your wide-open pupils are all the more exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. Basicly the cheap sunglasses trick your eyes into thinking its safe to open up your pupils when its not.

adaquate = adequate - for all the spelling sticklers out there

If you leave the light on, it’s easier to avoid knocking over your cola when you reach for it.

voltaire, the monitor is screaming radiation at your whole face & body all the time it’s on. Just cause you pupil is a little smaller won’t do much.

I disagree. I’ll try to find a cite of course…

A monitor emits a significant amount of UVA radiation, but practically none of the harder stuff. (There are no cosmic rays coming out of your screen.) UVA is so low-energy that it cannot damage most body tissues; even a mild sunburn is caused by more energetic UVB rays.

However, the lens of your eye is fragile, and more susceptible to damage. Over time, exposure to UVA can cause cataracts (clouding of the lens).

In short, handy: yeah, you’re technically right that radiation from the monitor hits more than just your eyes. But that radiation is so weak, your eyes are the only organs it can damage.


Laugh hard; it’s a long way to the bank.