最近,由于黑暗模式的引入in IOS 13,记者让我评论了黑暗模式的可用性and its popularity as a design trend. It’s a question that I also got several times from attendees to ourUX会议

iOS 13:光模式(左)与暗模式(右)

I must say upfront that NN/g has not done its own research on dark mode. However, these questions prompted me to do a review of the academic literature on whether dark mode has any benefits for users — with normal vision or not. I will share these findings with you.

But first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page by defining some vocabulary.


  • Positive contrast polarity (light mode)指浅色背景上的深色字体文本。

  • Negative contrast polarity (dark mode)denotes the combination of light (e.g., white) text on dark (e.g., black) background.



The human pupil is the gateway to the retina: through it, light reaches the eye. By default, the human pupil changes size depending on the amount of light in the environment: when there is a lot of light, it contracts and becomes narrower, and when it’s dark, it dilates to allow more light to get in. Smaller pupil sizes make the eyes less susceptible tospherical aberrations出现无重点的图像()和increase the depth of field, so people don’t have to work so hard to focus on the text, which, in turn, means that their eyes are less likely to get tired. (Camera apertures work exactly in the same way: a photo taken at f/2.8 will have a narrower depth of field and thus more blurring than one taken at f/16.)


Normal-Vision Users


Yet, several more recent studies contradict that initial finding. In particular, we will focus on two articles that involved two different types of tasks: one, published in 2013 in the journalErgonomics,looked at visual acuity and reading performance, and the other one, published in 2017 in适用的人体工程学,调查表演glanceable-readingtask — the quick reading of 1–2 words that people often engage in when they interact with a mobile phone, asmartwatch或者是汽车仪表板,并参与选中方向或参加通知等活动。

Effects of Contrast Polarity on Visual Acuity and Proofreading

Cosima Piepenbrock and her colleagues at the Institut für Experimentelle Psychologie in Düsseldorf, Germany studied two groups of adults with normal (or corrected-to-normal) vision: young adults (18 to 33 years old) and older adults (60 to 85 years old). None of the participants suffered from any eye diseases (e.g., cataract).


  • 一种视力敏锐的任务,涉及检测A中的差距Landolt C optotype- 换句话说,向他们展示类似于以各种方式定向的字母“C”的符号,并要求它们识别间隙所在的位置(例如,顶部,底部)。
  • A proofreading task, which involved reading a short passage and identifying different types of errors

任务以不同的对比极性呈现 - 对于一些参与者,它们处于暗模式,对于其他参与者,它们以光模式显示出来。对比极性是一个between-subjectsvariable, meaning that each participant saw only tasks in one contrast polarity (e.g., only dark mode).

The researchers also collected pre- and post-test fatigue-related measures: participants rated their eyestrain, headache, muscle strain, back pain, and subjective well-being at the beginning of the experiment, as well as at the end.

Their results showed that light mode won across all dimensions: irrespective of age, the positive contrast polarity was better for both visual-acuity tasks and for proofreading tasks. However, the difference between light mode and dark mode in the visual-acuity task was smaller for older adults than for younger adults — meaning that,尽管老年人的光模式也更好,但它们并没有从中受益于年轻人,至少在视力任务中。


另一项研究,在期刊上发表人为因素通过同一研究组,研究文本大小如何在校对任务中以对比度极性交互。发现正极性优势随着字体大小降低而导致线性增加:namely, the smaller the font, the better it is for users to see the text in light mode.Interestingly, even though their performance was better in the light mode,participants in the study did not report any difference in their perception of text readability(e.g., their ability to focus on text) in light versus dark mode — which only reinforces第一规则可用性:不要听用户

Effects on Contrast Polarity on Glanceable Reading

Jonathan Dobres and his colleagues at MIT’s Agelab attempted to quantify whether ambient lighting conditions (simulated daytime compared to simulated nighttime) affect in any way the advantage of positive polarity in the context of a lexical-decision task. A lexical-decision task, a paradigm commonly used in psychology, involves showing participants a string of letters and having them decide whether it’s a word or a nonword. A lexical-decision task is more similar with the glanceable reading that we do in highly interruptible conditions such as when driving or using a mobile phone or smartwatch on the go — all of these involve quickly looking at a display and extracting the relevant information.


The study found that lighting, polarity, and text size all had an effect on performance — in the direction perhaps expected by now: simulated daytime lead to faster judgements than simulated nighttime, light mode was better than dark mode, and bigger font was faster than smaller font. The interesting result was the significant interaction between ambient lighting and contrast polarity:during daytime, there was no significant effect of contrast polarity, but during nighttime, light mode led to better performance than dark mode.此外,在夜间期间,人们在暗模式中阅读小字体文本比光模式更难。



Long-Term Effects


2018年在自然研究的科学报告中发表的一个有趣的研究表明,持续暴露在光明模式可能与近视有关。近视(或近视)是指无法清楚地看到远的物体,并与教育水平和阅读强烈相关。在他们的学习中,德国蒂宾根大学的Andrea Aleman和她的同事要求7人参与者在暗模式和光线模式下读出一小时的读取文本。为了看看近视后对近视的倾向改变,它们测量了脉络膜的厚度,视网膜后面的血管膜。脉络膜的细化与近视有关。

The researchers found significant thinning of this membrane when participants read text presented in light mode and significant thickening when reading text presented in dark mode. The thinning was more pronounced in participants who already had myopia.

This result seems to suggest that, even though performance in light mode may be better in the short term, there may be a long-term cost associated with it.

Users with Impaired Vision


眼介质是指眼睛中的各种透明物质,包括角膜和镜片。阴天眼镜媒体最常见的原因是cataract, which refers to the clouding of the lens and is fairly common in older people. A cataract scatters and blocks some of the light that is supposed to reach the retina through the lens and thus prevents the creation of a clear, focused image on your retina.

Even as early as 1977, a study by Sloan reported that some people with low vision prefer dark mode. (In我们自己的无障碍研究,卡拉Pernice还看到了低视野的用户有时会在黑暗和光线模式之间切换,以试图获得清晰度。)1985年,明尼苏达大学的Gordon Legge和他的同事假设这一效果是由于“异常光线散射到期ocular media” — presumably, because, if more light reaches the eye with a cloudy lens, there’s a bigger chance of a distortion. Thus, dark mode may be better for people with cloudy ocular media because the display emits less light.

在亨格的研究中,7中的每一个participants with cloudy ocular media had better reading rates with dark modes, whereas the rest of the participants, who had impaired central vision, were not affected by contrast polarity.




那么,你应该跳上黑暗模式的潮流吗?虽然黑暗模式可能对某些低视网膜用户提供一些优点 - 特别是那些具有多云眼介质如白内障的那些,研究证据是正常视觉用户的正极性的优势方向的方向。换一种说法,在具有正常视觉的用户中,光线模式大部分时间都会导致更好的性能。

Why is light mode better for performance? These findings are best explained by the fact that, with positive contrast polarity, there is more overall light and so the pupil contracts more. As a result, there are fewer spherical aberrations, greater depth of field, and overall better ability to focus on details without tiring the eyes.

Even though larger font sizes and bright ambient light may erase some of this advantage in people with normal vision, at this point we don’t recommend switching to dark mode by default if your target audience includes the general population.

That being said, we strongly recommend thatdesigners allow users to switch to dark mode if they want to— for three reasons: (1) there may be long-term effects associated with light mode; (2) some people with visual impairments will do better with dark mode; and (3) some users simply like dark mode better. (We know that people很少更改默认值, but they should be able to.) It’s unlikely that people will alter the display mode for any random website, but, if a website or an application sees frequent use, it should consider providing this option to its users. In particular,应用程序意味着长形阅读(如书读读卡器,杂志,甚至新闻网站)应提供暗模式功能。该选项应该理想地在该网站或应用程序的所有屏幕中普遍存在。此外,如果操作系统提供黑暗模式API(如iOS),请确保您利用它 - 这样做将为那些决定切换到黑暗模式的用户能够在其所选中介绍您的应用程序或网站对比极性。


A. Aleman,M. Wang和F. Schaeffel(2018年)。阅读和近视:对比度极度。Scientific Reports8,10840(2018)DOI:10.1038 / s41598-018-28904-x

J. Dobres, N. Chahine, B. Reimer (2017). Effects of ambient illumination, contrast polarity, and letter size on text legibility under glance-like reading,适用的人体工程学DOI:10.1016 / J.Akergo.2016.11.001

G.E.LACGE,G. S. Rubin,D.G.Pelli和M. M. Schleske(1985)。读书的心理物理学 - II。低视力。Vision Research

K.S. Papadopoulos., D. B. Goudiras (2005). Accessibility Assistance for Visually-Impaired People in Digital Texts.British Journal of Visual Impairment.DOI:10.1177 / 0264619605054779

C. Piepenbrock,S. Mayr,I. Mund&A. Buchner(2013)。阳性显示极性对于年轻人和老年人来说是有利的,Ergonomics, DOI:10.1080/00140139.2013.790485

Cosima Piepenbrock, S. Mayr, A. Buchner (2013). Positive Display Polarity Is Particularly Advantageous for Small Character Sizes: Implications for Display Design.人为因素。DOI: 10.1177/0018720813515509

L.L. Sloan (1977). Reading Aids for the Partially Sighted: A Systematic Classification and Procedure for Prescribing. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins.