Reduce Eye Strain with High Contrast Themes and Backgrounds

If you work in front of your computer a lot, eye strain can be a problem. Luckily, there’s a way that you can reduce eye strain when you’re working  at your computer – use a high contrast background on your computer, as well as on any other electronic devices you use regularly. This post will provide information on the benefits of high contrast backgrounds or themes, and how to enable them in different devices.  

What is a high contrast background?

A high contrast theme or background changes the background to black and the text to white or a lighter color. The other elements of the website may be different colors – for example on my work website, the background is black, but the menu bar up a the top is tan with black lettering. Some of the text is orange .

What are the benefits of using a high contrast background or theme on my computer and other devices?

If you use a computer or other electronic device for long periods time, high contrast backgrounds are easier on the eyes and can reduce eye strain. It feels weird to be using a high contrast background at first, but eventually you will adjust to it.

How do I enable a high contrast background or theme?

That depends on the device you’re using, or the web browser. In Windows 7, click your secondary mouse button – this is the right mouse button if you’re right handed. Choose one of the high contrast themes – you have a choice of a black background with dark blue menu bars and yellow text, a black background with aqua colored menu bars and green text, a black background with purple menu bars and lavender text, or a white background with white menu bars and black text.

On Google Chrome, do a search for “high contrast” under Apps in the Web Store. You may find something like the following: This is the background I use for Goolge Chrome and it’s working well for me. It’s free for the first six months, after that you have to pay 2.99 a year for it. Another nice thing about this app is that you can switch between the high contrast view and the regular view for different websites. Just click the black “h” in the upper right corner.
Android devices may vary depending on the Android device – on my Samsung Galaxy S5, I go to “Accessibility,” choose “Vision,” and then turn negative colors on. It doesn’t look pretty, but it helps with eye strain again.
The only way I can find to enable a high contrast background on a Kindle is on my Kindle Fire HD, I go to the text options in any eBook and choose a black background with white text. There doesn’t seem to be a high contrast option for the Kindle itself, and I haven’t been able to find any information on enabling a high contrast background on older versions of the Kindle.

Other tips

  • When you switch to a high contrast theme in Windows, everything is going to be converted. That means if you use Microsoft Word, all the text is going to be converted to white, including text you’ve changed to other colors. If you want to be able to see the colors you’ve changed text to in Microsoft Word or other programs, you may want to change to a non-high contrast theme before using those programs.
  • Excel can look strange with a high contrast background – the gridlines are white instead of grey, which makes it difficult to see borders. To correct this problem, try turning off grid lines in Microsoft Excel – go to “View” and then “Gridlines” to do this.
  • There are very few problems with stability in high contrast mode, but there may be some cosmetic problems. When these come up, the best way to deal with them is to switch back to a regular theme temporarily. As soon as your done using those programs, switch back to a high contrast theme.

That’s been my experience with using high contrast backgrounds, and the information I’ve been able to find on how to set them up on different electronic devices. If you have any experience using high contrast themes or backgrounds on your electronic devices, I’d love to hear them.


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One thought on “Reduce Eye Strain with High Contrast Themes and Backgrounds

  1. Hi Erica,
    For those of us who do a lot of work on our devices eye-strain is a given. I believe its more important to reduce the blue-light exposure. You
    know the eerie blue glow when you use these devices at night. I’ve found that using flux software helps reduce the blue light. And warm up your display.

    You can download it at the site

    It has a drawback you can’t use it when doing color-sensitive work.

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