What Brightness Should My Monitor Be? (HINT: It Depends!)

Many of us have found that we are able to be more productive working from home than working from the office.

Without a commute and coworkers stopping by, there are less opportunities to naturally break up the day. As a result I personally find myself staring at my computer monitor for longer periods of time.

My latest experience of eye strain got me wondering, “what brightness should my monitor be?”

There is no universal “correct setting” when it comes to setting the brightness of a monitor. Ultimately, your monitor screen should match the brightness of your environment. Typically, an office monitor brightness level of 50 during the evening and 70 during the day is best.

Ultimately a good rule of thumb is your monitor should be as close to the ambient light level in the room you’re in as possible.

When your screen is significantly brighter or darker than your environment, your eyes must work harder to see it. This can lead to eye strain! Additionally, a brighter or darker screen can also result in tones and details not being perceived correctly.

You are likely to experience the greatest shift around midday when it is sunniest or in the evening when it gets dark. Unsurprisingly, these are two of the best times to adjust your brightness accordingly.

Wondering why this matters in the first place? Interested in learning how to manually change your monitor brightness and which monitors will automatically adjust brightness for you? Seeking additional tips on how to prevent dreaded eye strain?

Read on to learn more!

Is Monitor Brightness Important?

Before we go into the trouble of optimizing your monitor settings, let’s review why monitor brightness is important in the first place.

Impact On Eye Strain

Custom graphic showing eye strain due to monitor usage.

The negative ocular effects of longer duration computer usage have been studied for many years. Numerous studies across thousands of participants around the globe have demonstrated the association between eye strain and computer usage.

One such study was conducted at Teerthanker Mahaveer University in India. This study specifically determined that monitor brightness has a significant association with reported ocular complaints in computer users.

Furthermore, they observed that adjusting monitor brightness levels according to the workplace reduced ocular complaints.

The two main ocular complaints reduced by properly adjusting monitor brightness included eyestrain and watering.

Impact On Energy Usage

So, there appears to be ocular benefits associated with using a properly adjusted monitor. Why else should we care about our brightness settings?

Harvard University’s Sustainability Team discovered that reducing your computer monitor brightness from 100% to 70% can save up to 20% of the energy the monitor uses.  

Saving up to 20% of your monitor’s energy consumption SAVES YOU MONEY!

How To Change Monitor Brightness

To manually adjust brightness, navigate to the Settings menu on your external monitor. Once in Settings, find the Brightness adjustment option.

How to change monitor brightness via the OSD main menu.

The monitor control buttons will vary depending on the brand of monitor you are using. However, in most cases they will be located on the right hand side of your monitor. It will either be on the side, backside or on the bottom of the display.

Having difficulty finding your monitor’s Brightness adjustment settings?

First, locate the model or serial number on the back of your monitor.

Next, depending on the brand of your monitor, look up the corresponding manual using one of the links below:

Best Eye Care Monitor

Wait a minute. We just learned that the brightness of your monitor should match the brightness of your environment. Doesn’t this mean you need to make multiple adjustments throughout the day?

Fortunately, not anymore.

There are select monitors that have built in ambient light sensors.

These sensors measure the brightness of the light in your room and then automatically adjust the brightness of the screen accordingly.

So, what are the best eye care monitors? Here are some of the best monitors for eye strain with built in ambient light sensors:

Best Affordable/Compact – ASUS VE248H

ASUS VE248H compact monitor with built in ambient light detector and brightness auto-adjust.

The ASUS VE248H is 24 inches diagonally and will fit nicely on just about all surfaces. Beyond the built in ambient light detector and brightness auto-adjust, it also has 1080p HD resolution and has a refresh rate of 60Hz.

Best UltraWide – LG 49WL95C-W

LG 49WL95C-W UltraWide monitor.

The LG 49WL95C-W is 49 inches diagonally and comes with a height, tilt, and swivel adjustment stand. With a maximum screen resolution of 5120 x 1440, the display is clear and crisp. A dual controller helps you control multiple devices connected to one screen. Two built in 10W stereo speakers can cover a small room without using external speakers.

How To Prevent Eye Strain

As we have already established, computer use is a common cause of eye strain.

Adjusting your monitor’s brightness settings is just one way to help prevent eye strain.

Additional tactics you can try to help prevent eye strain include:

  • Take breaks: It is important that you set aside time to step away from your computer screen. The 20-20-20 rule suggests that every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
  • Blink more often: When we use a computer, we tend to blink less which can strain your eyes. Try to blink more!
  • Reduce monitor glare: Consider buying a monitor glare shield and remove any light sources that are directly above your monitor. You can also check out additional tips on how to optimize your home office lighting.
  • Correctly position your monitor: Your monitor should be positioned approximately one arms length away from you.
  • Enlarge font size: Increasing your font size can help prevent squinting and over focusing your eyes.
  • Adjust your screen color settings: Consider installing free f.lux software. f.lux automatically adjusts your computer screen look like the room you’re in. It does this by adapting the color of your computer’s display to the time of day.
  • Try artificial tears: Using eye drops can be helpful when your eyes begin to feel dry.


Long work hours can result in prolonged periods of time staring at your computer monitor, leading to eye strain. Research has shown that adjusting monitor brightness levels to match the workplace reduced ocular complaints.

Typically, an office monitor brightness level of 50 during the evening and 70 during the day is best. Ultimately, you should aim to make your brightness match the ambient light level in the room you are in.

Update your monitor brightness and deploy some of these tips and tricks to reduce eye strain today!

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