Is it bad for your eyes to keep brightness on minimum?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Amad3U5, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. Amad3U5 macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2012
    I've always liked having my screen brightness on near minimum - I never have it higher than 4 bars out of 15. I just find it more comfortable not being distracted the brightness of the screen.

    So the other day my mom was proofreading an essay on my computer. As soon as she saw how low the brightness was, she began yelling at me telling me I would need glasses if I kept the brightness so low, and told me to always put the brightness on maximum (which ironically hurts my eyes way more than having it on minimum).

    And it's not like a work in a dark environment - I always have the ceiling light and a very bright lamp on my desk on at all times.

    TL;DR: Mom says that it's bad for my eyes to work with screen brightness on minimum, even though my room is very well lit.

    So is it really bad for your eyes to work in these conditions?
  2. elefantrider macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2012
    That's a myth. I have asked the question years ago to an eye surgeon, the worst thing that can happen is a headache. Low light levels cannot harm your eyes.
  3. Daeve macrumors member

    Sep 11, 2007
    Myth, your eyes will not be damaged at all.

    Look at this way - a screen is backlit, even in minimum brightness. A newspaper or book is not lit all except from the light in the room. If your room is well lit (or even if not), you are not going to strain your eyes greatly.
  4. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008

    If your screen was backlit by the sun, that's another story, but until then, you're good to go.
  5. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    It won't damage your eyes so to speak. What it does do is causes eye strain which presents its self as a headache. What you should do is find a balance.
  6. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I don't know that it has any effect on the long term health of your eyes, but maximum brightness is really damn bright. Maximum brightness allows you to see the display in extremely bright ambient conditions. There is no reason it must be on high all the time. If you look at a book in a brightly lit room, the pages are still nowhere near that bright. Amazon also had their black and white e-book readers with the e-ink displays. Those were comfortable for reading, yet they were much dimmer and lower in contrast than a typical computer display. You should just view the screen at a comfortable brightness level.
  7. Saturn1217 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2008
    Actually I'm pretty sure with backlit screens it is actually better for your eyes to keep the brightness down. When I read on my tablet I always keep the brightness as low as I can to prevent eye strain.
  8. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Is not a universal low or high, every pairs of eyes should be different.

    Now if you keep it low because you are OCD about power drain, then that's a bad idea. However, if you are comfortable with it and don't have to squint to read the screen, that's it.

    Recently there was a program on NPR where this 50 years old dude did cataract operation on one eye, and he's seeing brighter/clearer on the operated eye because the worn lens material is been removed, while his old eye, he sees a casts with it. Different people, different age, different requirement.

    I am most comfortable when I dial my screen brightness to what I perceive, as ambient, then one or two notches up. So different whether day or night and different lighting conditions.
  9. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    Light has kinetic energy. When light goes into your eyes, that kinetic energy is absorbed completely by your retinas, and depending on how high the energy level is, it can range from hurting your retinas... to completely destroying it. In the worst case scenario, you'll go blind. But in the extreme cases, it may actually disintegrate your eyeballs... and probably the rest of your body as well.

    So technically, less light (lower brightness) is ALWAYS better, as less light does less damage. That's a physical fact.

    However, that's not the whole truth.

    Your eyes adjust for exposure level depending on the average amount of light that it receives. That's why when you are in dark places, the outside look a lot brighter, and when you are outside looking into dark places, it's usually almost pitch black. Basically, your eyes also know how much light it needs to receive in order for you to "see" things.

    So if ambient lighting is significantly brighter than your screen, your eyes would have a harder time "seeing" the screen. And if you try to focus your eyes more on the screen in order to "see" things, then you're forcing your eyes to take in more light. And like I just explained above, more light is bad. Not to mention focusing also takes a toll on your brain and nerves, which is not good.

    Inversely, if your screen is significantly brighter than ambient, then by looking at the screen, you are receiving a lot more light than necessary to "see" things. And as explained above again, more light is... bad.

    So the reality is that it's best for you to match ambient lighting and screen lighting. That's why Apple built in an ambient light sensor to their MacBook Pro.

    Sorry, I gotta stress some of those points, as I think there's a lot of myths flying around, but not all of them are bad myths.
  10. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    If you strain your eyes to rear the screen then it's too low. I prefer a moderately bright screen unless the room is dark, then I like it mid-level. If you can read the screen for hours and not feel tired or have a headache then it's not a problem.
  11. MTD's Mac macrumors regular

    MTD's Mac

    Mar 18, 2010
    Los Angeles
    I like to use the F1 and F2 keys to control brightness manually. Once you get in the habit, you're always making slight adjustments as the light in the room changes or you feel like the screen is too bright/too dim. Working on minimum brightness for a few minutes can make a slight increase seem VERY bright, which is nice for watching video clips, etc.

    I'd trust my eyes - if they burn or you get a slight headache, try changing something.
  12. Arnezie macrumors 65816


    Oct 10, 2011
    No but what you are watching on there has been rumored to cause blindness:D:D:D:D:D
  13. nitromac macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2012
    Theoretically if the screen is bright it will put strain on your eyes, and strain = long term minor damage. Working on maximum brightness for a few years won't make you go blind but you might get some vision issues. Strain is never good. I try to make my screen look "natural" in the environment it's in. Never too bright and never too dark (as that causes strain as well)
  14. Mdwall macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2012
    From my personal experience, I like around half brightness on the Retina. It's really too bright for my tastes at max. Some would say retina burning even....;)
  15. seveej macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    My eye doctor disagrees. Partially.
    He came to do a part of my former job's ergonomics evaluation, and stated that:
    - reading in too little light or having low(er) screen brightness does not lead to a long-term deterioration of eye-sight (the myth part).
    - that said, if lowering screen brightness leads to lessened contrast, you might me squinting (basically straining your eyes), which may in the short term create headaches and lessen your ability to sit at the screen for long.

    The doctor summarized as: use the light level which you feel comfortable with, but don't expect the next guy to agree...

  16. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    That is basically what I heard too. It isn't really you retina that gets damaged it is more your brain. The retina part of the eye is actually a really poor camera. Most of our seeing capabilities come from all the post processing afterwards.

    Ideally the screen should be as bright as the surroundings. Outside as bright as possible. The darker the room the dimmer. Put a sheet of paper next to it that is how bright it should be. Maybe a little brighter.

    Too bright is bad because your eyes adjust to overall brightness more than the stuff in focus. In ergonomics they also said black bezels are bad because they make the eye dimm less than it should.
  17. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
  18. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    Always consider the source. Is your mom an eye doctor? I'm not saying that arguing with your mom is a good idea. You have to pick and choose your fights wisely.

    You need to adjust your brightness for ambient conditions, as described above. What works best for one isn't necessarily best for everyone -- also mentioned above.
  19. winkosmosis, Jun 3, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2016

    winkosmosis macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2012
    I came across this thread searching for data on this subject. I haven't found any specific study yet but...

    It's established that populations with a tendency to read and write a lot have higher incidences of nearsightness.

    "Epidemiological surveys have shown that myopia is more prevalent in individuals who spend more time reading or performing close work than those who spend more time not using their eyes at near. Myopia has been correlated with the amount of school work and level of educational attainment.14-16 The process continues into the third decade of life with graduate students, microscopists, and military conscripts becoming more myopic with more near work.17 Studies of Aboriginal peoples and Inuits have shown increasing incidence of myopia correlating to the increased near work demands.18"

    The reason for that is that the growth of your eyes depends on the circumstances they face. It's been shown by experiements with horses that if you put lens in front of their eyes as they're growing, their eyes adapt to the lenses.

    If you spend a lot of time looking at a screen close to your face, your eyes' growth will adapt to close work, IE nearsightedness. That can mean either eye elongation or the shape of the cornea.

    Why does brightness matter? Because the dimmer the screen the wider your pupils open. This is equivalent to aperture on a camera. The wider the aperture the less is in focus (depth of field). The brighter your environment, the smaller your pupils, and the easier it is for your cornea to adjust to get the image in focus on your retina. That's how the eye works and develops, according to people who actually study the eye.

    If you Google you'll find plenty of posts on forums etc basically saying that "nothing causes nearsightedness ever". That's a misinterpretation. In reality it's just that there are few studies on this subject because it's difficult to study.

    The retail optometry industry also has a vested interest in the position that "eyesight problems are purely genetic"
  20. Perene, Jun 30, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016

    Perene macrumors 6502a


    Jun 29, 2015
    Recently I noticed an eye floater in my eye (I only have slight myopia, and I use the iPAD 4 everyday, a lot) and decided to change a few things in my routine, like only using the air conditioner when going to bed (not only that is not too good for the eyes, it can make us feel a lot more relaxed than we should), buy sunglasses from a good brand (and stop using the cheap ones that can't offer any protection), turn off the lights in my room (the ones over my head, instead I am using a lampshade, positioned in a table, away from me and in an indirect angle). The room is not too dark, but not too bright like before.

    I also changed my diet (that was already very thorough) to include cod-liver oil, it's good for the eyes, and visited a doctor, he told me to use 3x/day an eye lubricant called Systane. I will check another doctor in the next days to ask for more exams, and check if my myopia changed.

    What I can tell is that besides all these precautions, only time will tell if they will reduce the redness (it's not too much, but it's there) in one of my eyes that I think it can be the result of tablet exposure), I never let the brightness of any device at more than 30-40%. This is the worst thing someone can do.

    These eye floaters are normal and can only be noticed when you look against a white object or under the light (they may be, in a few cases, a sign of a serious eye problem, that can get worse later - glaucoma is a disease that has no symptoms when you have it - so get tested/visit the doctor at least once every year), and over time these devices were perfected to reduce the glare (which you will ruin if use a screen protector on your iPAD - cut your fingernails, use a good microfiber cloth (someone recommended me the "3M Scotch Brite Hi-Tech Cleaning Cloth for Gadgets") and use covers to keep the screen in good shape) and improve our experience.

    This link explains in technical terms what has changed in the Pro 9.7:

    One thing we should notice is that many apps and sites insist in only offering us a white background, and it's not always possible (or it can break a few things - at least in browsers) to change this completely. I have no idea why many insist in this error that hurt our eyes more, I guess that only a few care about their own health, let alone the impact they have on others.
  21. grahamperrin macrumors 601


    Jun 8, 2007
    Simply: if it hurts, it's bad. Use whatever levels make you most comfortable.
  22. jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area

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