This UX.SE question about the use of bright pink in graphic design prompted an answer that says it should not be used because “it hurts the eyes.” It cites a Color Matters website about this, and quotes the following:

Certain colors and color relationships can be eye irritants, cause headaches, and wreak havoc with human vision.

Yellow, pure bright lemon yellow is the most fatiguing color. Why? The answer comes from the physics of light and optics. More light is reflected by bright colors, resulting in excessive stimulation of the eyes. Therefore, yellow is an eye irritant.

The 83,000 cones that are used to decode red became fatigued and over stimulated when you focused on the red rectangle.

The operation of the eye is largely muscular and any excessive activity will tire it out.

I had been under the impression that much of this “wear out your eyes” stuff was little more than old wives’ tales, largely debunked by modern science—but I don’t remember where I got that notion, or how authoritative it was or wasn’t. Further, since this is a complex subject with a lot of research, no doubt, I imagine our understanding of the eye is updated rather frequently with new research.

Thus, does modern science indicate that eyes are fatigued noticeably more by bright colors than other colors?

  • 1
    Anecdotally, I don't like working with a fully white background, like this text box! (The main Skeptics background is just off-white enough to only be an irritation :-( )
    – Mark Hurd
    May 28, 2016 at 4:03
  • Pink is a shade of red. Blue light is more energetic than red so while it's conceivably possible that overexposure to blue light could cause damage to your eyesight, I don't think the less energetic red light of hot pink could cause injury to anything other than your sense of aesthetics.
    – GordonM
    Nov 7, 2016 at 12:37

1 Answer 1


Do certain colors fatigue eyes faster?

Yes, this is true according to several sources.

This study(1) by Yale University states:

... certain parts of the spectrum, namely, yellow and blue-green, exert a fatiguing effect upon the eye which is different from that of red, green or blue.

This book(2) says:


  1. http://ajplegacy.physiology.org/content/65/3/569.short

  2. https://books.google.ch/books?id=XPgaAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA53&dq=yellow+colors+fatigue+eyes&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjm2-rt8JPQAhUaT48KHah5B-0Q6AEINzAC#v=onepage&q=blue%20and%20yellow%20fatigue&f=false [Wisconsin Library Bulletin, Volumes 73-74]

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    Seeing as the initial claim included statements that pink or red were particularly bad (contradicted by your sources), and attributed the fatigue to energy levels in the light (not what your sources describe), I think “this is true” is a bit misleading—“this” would be the title question but not all of the specific claims in the question. So I think your lede could use some clarification. All that said, very nice to see a solid answer here! I will leave it for now to see community response, but I'll likely accept this in a few days.
    – KRyan
    Nov 6, 2016 at 13:03

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