Hunched over and bleary-eyed, you find you are starting to develop a headache from the bright light coming off your monitor. Anyone who has had a late night studying or working knows this feeling. What you may not know is that even if you find yourself in a position like this you don't need to suffer from the deleterious effects. Eye fatigue from screens is commonplace, especially in the tech-heavy society we find ourselves in.
Ideally, you want your screen just below eye level and approximately 20 to 30 inches away from your face. From here you need to make sure the text size is about three times your minimum reading size. When it comes to the overall brightness you need to follow the Goldilocks principle - too bright is not only a problem but so is too dim. The general rule of thumb is that if your screen seems like a light source in your room, that means it is too bright. On the other hand, if it is dull or gray, then your screen brightness is set too low. You want the overall brightness to be an approximation of your surrounding environment. You should have plenty of contrasting color as well - there's a reason why most websites have a white background with black text, as this is easiest to read. In low light environments, you can apply a color inversion to your monitor. This flips white to black, and black to white - creating a less harsh light that still has high contrast.
Brightness isn't just the amount of lumens coming off your screen, but can also be the overall temperature. Most screens are made with LED technology that creates a harsh blue glow that can damage your retina. Because this blue light is so similar to the ultraviolet radiation that comes off the sun, it can trick your brain in thinking its daylight even when it's night - upsetting your hormonal balance and disrupting your sleep patterns. A more reddish, warmer color is best for dark rooms - while cooler, more blueish, ones work better for well-lit rooms.
Most monitors or screens have the ability to adjust this temperature manually, but there also programs that can automatically change the screen temperature over the course of the day. F.lux is one of the most well known for the PC, while the Twilight app is available for portable devices. Windows now has included a basic program that works similarly. These programs work by subtly converting the screen redder as the sun goes down, and back to a more bluer tint as the sun comes up.
As mentioned previously, screen brightness is determined by the environment. So one way to get optimal screen brightness is to change your environment to better suit your screen. While having a window is nice, it can create too much light - try eliminating this source by closing the shades or blinds. Typical overhead lights found in office buildings are often commented at being too harsh. You can change this by using lower intensity bulbs or reducing the number of bulbs installed over you. A more radical path is to just turn off the overhead light and opt to use a lamp near your workstation instead.
Glare can also be a recurring problem, as it makes it difficult for you to see anything. Avoid this by making sure there is no source of light in front of the monitor - this can be either artificial or natural light. Be wary of brightly colored walls as light can also bounce off of this. Anti-glare material for screens are also available and do a great job in managing screen quality. Anti-glare glasses have also been developed. These blue light blocking glasses have lenses that filter out the oppressive blue light and often come with many anti-glare properties, allowing your eyes to strain less.
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