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Dark mode is also known as dark theme. The setting is available on many smartphone models.
The default setting on most devices is to show black text on a white background.
Switching your device to dark mode means that it will display white text on a dark background.
Dark mode is accessed via your phone’s display settings. It can be switched on and off to your preferences.
When applied, dark mode is set across the entire user interface. This includes apps.
If you cannot find the dark mode option, this feature may have a different name on your phone. Or, your model is outdated and does not offer dark mode.
Dark mode is used to reduce blue light exposure. This helps with eye strain that may come with extended screen time.
Some eye symptoms may suggest that it’s time to start using dark mode to protect your eyes and reduce blue light exposure. For example:
However, there is no definitive evidence to prove that dark mode can help with these eye symptoms.
Using dark themes may be better for your eyes. But first, we need to consider the way blue light affects your eyes.
Blue light waves come from your devices’ screens. These waves provide more energy than other colors of light. They send our brains the signal that it is daytime.
We are only beginning to understand the side effects of excessive blue light. However, we have learned that blue light may confuse our eyes.
Some people who promote dark themes claim that using them before bedtime helps them fall asleep more quickly. Some also say that it helps them stay asleep for longer.
This may be because default screen settings expose you to more blue light after dark. This affects your circadian rhythm and suppresses melatonin. This is the hormone that tells your body it is bedtime.
Dark mode may also be easier to read. This is especially when you are in a room with the lights off.
The reduction in blue light may also reduce any squinting or eye strain linked to excessive brightness.
However, these theories about blue light and eyes are not backed by research. They are neither supported by professional opinion.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) states that digital eye strain occurs from how we use our devices. Eye strain is not necessarily linked to the blue light that comes from our phones.1
Studies on whether dark themes or other blue light filtering solutions work to improve eye strain are inconclusive.
However, it seems that dark themes are more likely to affect sleep rhythm than eye strain. Some research has been done on the effect of dark mode and the ability to fall asleep.
A 2019 study of Apple’s dark mode features did not show any significant difference in melatonin production between people who used the night shift feature on their iPad before bed and those who did not.2
The study’s authors also stated that the night shift feature alone would not be enough to restore circadian rhythm. Adjusting the device’s brightness seemed to be equally or even more important.
This discovery appears to line up with official recommendations from experts. The AAO suggests reducing glare and brightness by adjusting the settings on your screen and setting devices to dark themes.1
Some research suggests that there may be a link between blue light and how quickly you fall asleep.
A 2017 study showed that playing games on a smartphone before bed made people take longer to fall asleep compared to those who used a blue light filter on their device.3
Although the research into dark mode’s effects is inconclusive, some people claim the setting benefits them.
Here are some potential advantages of dark mode:
There are also some disadvantages of dark mode:
The following conditions may possibly be linked to blue light (although more research is needed in terms of dry eye and eye strain):
Treatment for these symptoms include:
Other ways to prevent eye strain and reduce blue light exposure include:
Seek professional help if you start to experience worrisome eye symptoms, especially if home treatments and prevention methods aren’t working.
Meet with an eye doctor if you notice any of the following:
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