Key Takeaways:

  • Brightness should be set to match the brightness of workspace lighting
  • Brightness should be set before contrast
  • Eye strain is extremely common and can lead to long term vision issues

If you spend five days a week staring at displays nonstop, there’s a very good chance that you’re putting excess strain on your eyes. Even moderate regular computer use can lead to serious eye strain, and over time, that eye strain can develop into more serious or even permanent vision issues. Knowing the optimal brightness and contrast settings to prevent eye strain is one of the most important things a regular computer user can do to protect their eyesight.

Fortunately, both Windows 10 and most modern displays offer a variety of easy and fast ways to customize display settings, and brightness and contrast are usually the easiest, as well as the most important settings to understand and control. Below we’ll walk through the best ways to change these settings and what the optimal settings are for them.

Optimal Brightness and Contrast Settings

As a basic rule, regular computer users should aim to have their monitor’s brightness match the brightness of their workspace, with the contrast set for optimal readability and minimal eye fatigue.

So, for example, if your workspace is darkly lit, your display’s brightness should be dimmer to match, the reverse also being true. A good way to measure this is to see if your display is as bright as the main light source in the room, or significantly brighter than secondary light sources.

Contrast settings are equally as important as brightness settings in reducing eye strain over long work periods. Ideally, you want your contrast to be on the high side, so that images and text are clear and easy to read, but not so high that the eye is constantly performing micro-adjustments, thereby increasing eye strain. However, contrast is easier to calibrate effectively once you’ve properly adjusted brightness based on the light levels in your workspace, and high contrast settings are more forgiving on the eyes at lower brightness levels.

Easiest Methods for Adjusting Brightness and Contrast

The most direct way of adjusting brightness and contrast is obviously to use the native controls on your display- the design and functionality of which can vary quite a bit. While this is a good way to get your settings right, many built-in display controls are awkward to use and most users find it easier and more convenient to control settings on their PC with their mouse and keyboard.

Many displays do feature a setting called DDC/CI- or Display Data Channel, which allows the display’s native controls to interface with Windows so that they can be adjusted from the PC. Either way, knowing how to adjust brightness and contrast in Windows 10 is a good idea.

How to Change Brightness in Windows 10

To adjust brightness and contrast in Windows 10 while using an external display or a laptop:

Using Windows Action Center:

  • Press the Windows key + A to open Action Center
  • There will be a brightness slider at the bottom of the utility’s window- use this to adjust screen brightness

Using the Settings App:

  • Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings App, and click on Settings
  • Click on System and then click the Display tab

Adjust the brightness by moving the slider in the Brightness and Color tab, under “Change brightness for the built-in display.”

STAT:

Blue light is not known to cause vision damage but can affect sleep patterns and sleep quality

https://www.eizo.com/library/basics/10_ways_to_address_eye_fatigue/

Adjusting screen brightness properly can reduce blue light exposure by 60-70%

https://www.eizo.com/library/basics/10_ways_to_address_eye_fatigue/

Most regular users find contrast settings of 60-70% the most comfortable regardless of brightness settings

https://www.eyeque.com/knowledge-center/best-monitor-settings-for-eyes/

In addition to brightness and contrast settings, another recommended way to combat eye strain is known as the 20-20-20 rule- every 20 minutes, focus on something for 20 seconds that’s 20 feet away from you.

Sources:

https://www.viewsonic.com/library/business/blue-light-filter-eye-strain/

https://www.eizo.com/library/basics/10_ways_to_address_eye_fatigue/

https://www.wired.com/2013/09/flux-eyestrain/

https://www.eizo.com/library/basics/10_ways_to_address_eye_fatigue/

https://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/irritated.htm

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/should-you-use-night-mode-to-reduce-blue-light

https://www.eyeque.com/knowledge-center/best-monitor-settings-for-eyes/

Best Monitor Brightness and Contrast Settings for Eyes FAQ

Is Night Mode in Windows 10 better for my eyes?

Night mode is a setting in Windows 10 as well as many smartphones that reduces the level of blue light the screen emits. While blue light hasn't been proven to cause damage to vision directly, many users find it can reduce eye strain to some degree, but moreover, it can help users sleep better, fall asleep quicker, and feel more comfortable during work.

Which is better for the eyes, low or high brightness settings?

When it comes to eye strain and brightness settings, the key factor is the brightness of the display in relation to the light sources in your workspace, not the highness or lowness of the setting in and of itself. A bright room requires a bright monitor for minimum eye strain and vice versa.

Should brightness be higher than contrast for reduced eye strain?

Brightness should be set first, and in relation to the brightness of the workspace so that the monitor isn't any brighter or dimmer than the primary light source or overall luminance of the workspace. The ratio of brightness to contrast is less important but does have an impact, though it's not generally optimal for the brightness to be set significantly higher than contrast.

Jed Smith

I'm a musician and recording engineer and live in Queens. I have a cat. Her name is Elsa. I love to write about consumer tech and musical instruments.

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