Suppose a person wants to play computer games at night without turning on the room lights. The only light source in the room is that monitor screen that the person is looking at -- with normal brightness, of course.

Does looking at a monitor screen in a room with very low light source damage your eyes?

I know that the duration of the action might affect the result; if so, please specify. For example, no damage to the eyes if the action takes less than an hour, or it is very dangerous for the action to keep on for a few hours per day.

and yes I read this. This is not a duplicate.

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    Is anyone claiming that looking at a monitor in a dark room will damage your eyes? Questions here require a specific notable source that you have seen or heard elsewhere, and should not be based on personal speculation.
    – F1Krazy
    Mar 9, 2023 at 10:49
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    @F1Krazy All of the people I know in my culture believe such situation. A few including my family have always warned me about it when they had a chance.
    – holydragon
    Mar 9, 2023 at 11:00
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    Can you find a notable source making this claim, such as an article online, and edit it into the question? "My family said XYZ" isn't a notable claim, but "This prominent website said XYZ" is.
    – F1Krazy
    Mar 9, 2023 at 11:04
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    @F1Krazy: well, I was going to do that, but the first couple of hits that contained the claim also debunked it, so I wrote an answer instead. Mar 9, 2023 at 11:30
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    Skeptics is not a stack where you "state some personal belief" and then ask if it's true. You find some reasonably reputable source saying that. Fox News or better, not social media even. Link that forum, and then ask if that's true. This is necessary to maintain forum quality. Mar 10, 2023 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


According to various experts' opinion, there's no evidence of permanent damage, but temporary strain, yes, e.g. according to this University of California-Irvine page

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 [1]. [...]

However, these kinds of conditions are only temporary and have no severe effects on one’s eyes. [...] [3]

It cites a few references, and [1] (which is about strain) is a typical controlled study with two groups, but they are only citing a newspaper article for [3] which contains more expert opinion.

Dr Treacy told TheJournal.ie that the myth is grounded in attempts to get children to go to sleep, and because we grew up hearing it, it became a fact. Saying that looking at the screen of a smartphone, television, or laptop in the dark is bad for your eyes is simply the modern version.

It's a bit hard to prove a negative like this since eyesight does get worse with age. It would take at least one longitudinal study to be somewhat sure, but I don't know if one was done. Getting funding for a study like this is generally a problem when something is not likely/suspected [by experts] to be a problem.

There is one meta-analysis that suggest that (smartphone) screen over-use might result in various/worse visions problems sooner, a least in children. But extrapolating from that to other situations is quite iffy. (It's also not a great analysis, since it pooled over various conditions/afflictions.)


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