By: Janki Patel
It is common for individuals to work on their computers, use their cell phones, or even watch TV in the dark. They do so for a variety of reasons, which includes the addition of having a better experience. On the other hand, it is also common to be scolded for doing so, as some people tend to believe that it may harm one's eyes. Yet, it is completely normal to go to a movie theater and not be criticized for watching a movie in the dark. So, what is the right thing to do? Should screen-use in the dark be limited during all situations or should we continue as is?
A frequently made observation with screen-use in the dark is that it can strain one's eyes. This is indeed true for many individuals and has been proven scientifically. The Lighting Research Center (LRC) conducted a study where two groups of participants were told to watch a movie in different settings of lighting. One group viewed an hour of the film in the dark first and then another hour of the film with wall illumination. The other group did the same, but just in the opposite order. As a result, the researchers discovered that less screen-use in poorly lit settings resulted in less frequent blink rates, less eyestrain, and less fatigue . Moreover, researchers in Thailand the studied the effects of screen exposure with infants during the evening and concluded that the more infants are exposed to media, the less they sleep afterwards .
However, these kinds of conditions are only temporary and have no severe effects on one's eyes. It is true that your eyes can become dry when staring at a screen for far too long in the dark, but that is not an issue of the screen or setting. In fact, according to Dr. Garry Treacy of The Irish College of Ophthalmologists, partaking in such activities can strengthen your eyes as they get used to the setting. Hence, the problem lies with the act of staring at the screens, which is harmful to the health of your eyes. Staring for too long at anything, not just a screen, can make your eyes dry and sore . So, as long as you allow your eyes to be moisturized by possibly blinking often or using eye drops, then your eyes should be all right. Overall, there are no actual long-term effects of screen-use in the dark, no matter what you are doing.
Eyes are bound to deteriorate with age as they start having a harder time differentiating between white and black, especially without much light . So, for younger individuals, watching movies, playing video games, using cell phones, or even working on computers in the dark or in settings of low lighting is fine, if need be. However, as a precaution, try to avoid eyestrain by maintaining the moisture in your eyes and assuring that you have enough illumination for the activity.
1. Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 2006. New Study Tests The Effects Of Watching TV In A Dark Room. ScienceDaily. Web. 22 April 2017.
2. Vijakkhana, N., Wilaisakditipakorn, T., Ruedeekhajorn, K., Pruksananonda, C., Chonchaiya, W. 2015. Evening media exposure reduces night-time sleep. Acta Paediatrica. 104: 306-312
3. Ryan, N. 2013. Debunked: Does reading in low light or staring at a screen damage your eyesight? The Journal.ie. Web. 22 April 2017.