Do Monitor Light Bars Actually Help With Eye Strain?

I’ve been using monitor light bars as my main desk light for a few years now. I recommend them to everyone who asks me about them. 

They don’t take up any desk space, produce zero screen glare, and spread light right where you need it. One common question however is if these light bars are actually good for you

screenbar halo light bar low shot

They might be convenient and all, but do they actually reduce eye strain and help you work at your desk for long hours?

In this article, we’re going to talk about what to expect when it comes to using a monitor light bar in terms of eye strain. We’ll close with tips on keeping your eyes comfortable no matter what type of desk light you have. 

Key Takeaways

Monitor light bars can reduce some eye strain as they produce zero screen glare, illuminate the area in front of your monitor evenly, and some models also have an included bias light that distributes light on your rear wall. 

Spreading the light evenly in front and behind (bias lighting) your monitor reduces the relative intensity of your bright monitor. A glary screen can make your eyes work harder to read what is on screen. 

How Do Monitor Light Bars Reduce Eye Strain?

Let’s talk about how light bars actually reduce some eye strain. Some of these methods are going to be more minor than others in terms of their effectiveness. 

We simply cover anything that can bring your eyes a little more comfort when using a monitor light bar. 

Zero Screen Glare

First, we have one of the main benefits of monitor light bars: zero screen glare. Screen glare is when you have a bright light reflecting off of your screen and into your eyes. 

If you’ve ever had a monitor across the room from a window, you probably had a hard time seeing what was on the monitor at certain times. The same is true if you have a desk lamp a little too close to the monitor. 

Monitor Light bar Beam Spread no glare

A monitor light bar has a very controlled light beam. That means it can cut off the light at a very sharp angle. This results in zero light being reflected off the front of your screen.

A glary screen results in it being harder to make out what is on your screen. Your eyes have to work a little harder and you just won’t have a good time. 

Controlled Light Beam Shields Eyes

Another benefit of the controlled light beam is that your eyes will be shielded from the light as well as your monitor. 

Nothing is worse than having your desk lamp “peak” some light directly into your eyes. This is because most desk lamps don’t have a very controlled light beam.

This is a common issue with taller desk lamps that spread the light beam over a larger area of your desk. What ends up happening is you get some light pointing straight into your eyes. 

This obviously is less than ideal and can result in some eye discomfort.

Monitor light bars control the beam and the high-end models spread the light over a very large area at the same time. We talk about the impressive beam spread of the BenQ ScreenBar Halo in our dedicated review here. 

BenQ ScreenBar Monitor Light Review (17 of 21)
Notice how there is light on the desk, but no light shining into the camera.

Here’s the

Premium Pick
Amazon link for the ScreenBar Halo
4.5

Enhance eye comfort with this monitor light bar's integrated backlight design that illuminates your back wall (bias lighting). With a smart wireless controller, it's easy to adjust brightness and color temperature. Its patented clip design mounts on almost any monitor, saving valuable desk space, and it's powered via USB, eliminating the need for extra wires.

Check Price on Amazon
if you’re interested. 

Some Models Include Rear Bias Lighting

Bias lighting is one of the most effective ways to combat eye strain. Especially when using your computer in low-light environments. 

Bias lighting is essentially accent lighting that spreads light across the wall behind your monitor. What this does is reduce the relative intensity of your monitor’s brightness on your eyes. 

screenbar halo light bar halo bias

Instead of your monitor beaming into your eyes in a dark environment, bias lighting bounces and spreads a secondary light across your wall so the overall brightness is spread more evenly across your entire viewing area. 

This makes a world of difference with eye comfort. So where do monitor light bars come in? 

High-end monitor light bars, such as the BenQ Halo, actually have a bias light built into the light bar itself. That means you get an all-in-one solution that addresses almost all desk lighting desires! 

You can always get your own bias lights. I own the Govee Light Bars (review here) and we have more bias lighting ideas in our article on the ultimate LED backlit desk setup guide.

screenbar halo light bar no curved monitor accessory
Premium Pick
BenQ ScreenBar Halo Monitor Light
4.5

Enhance eye comfort with this monitor light bar's integrated backlight design that illuminates your back wall (bias lighting). With a smart wireless controller, it's easy to adjust brightness and color temperature. Its patented clip design mounts on almost any monitor, saving valuable desk space, and it's powered via USB, eliminating the need for extra wires.

Check Price on Amazon

Keeps Desk Foreground Evenly Lit

I’ll admit that most desk lamps do this, but light bars do it a little bit better. When your desk is lit up evenly, it makes your monitor’s brightness a bit less intense in your eyes. 

Monitor light bars illuminate the center of your desk right underneath your monitor. That means your bright monitor visually transitions very well into your lit desk. 

Few desk lights actually illuminate the center of your desk with a nice wide beam. Monitor light bars on the other hand do this particularly well. 

Ways To Reduce Eye Strain

If you are on the fence about monitor light bars, check out our article on light bar benefits and our article on how light bars stack up against desk lamps

Whether you use a light bar or not, here are some ways you can relieve some eye strain at your desk today. 

Use Bias Lighting

We touched on what bias lighting is earlier, but basically, it’s illuminating the wall behind your monitor. 

Without bias lighting, you have a stark contrast between the bright screen and the surrounding darkness. When you add some bias lighting that contrast is gone as the bias light continues to illuminate the area around your monitor. 

I currently use Govee light bars as my bias light. I have a dedicated review of the light bars here. They are attached to the back of my monitor. 

Govee Smart LED Light Bars
4.6
Pros:
  • 16 Million Colors
  • Included brackets make setup easy
  • Smooth and even lighting
  • Feature packed mobile app
  • Works with smart assistants
  • Has a Stream Deck Plugin!
Cons:
  • 8ft max distance between bars
  • RGB is not as bright as white settings
  • Occasional wireless control issues
Check Price on Amazon

I can choose from a ton of colors and they are very bright. I can almost light up my whole room with the white lights.

If you want to spend less, you can easily get behind-monitor LED strips like the ones shown below. Anything helps. 

Govee TV LED Backlights, App Control TV LED Strip Lights, 7 Scene Modes & DIY Mode, 6.56FT Easy Installation USB LED TV Lights for 40-60 inch TVs, Computer, Bedroom, Gaming Monitor
  • DIY Mode & Multiple Scenarios: Govee TV LED backlights can personalize light effects in DIY mode via Govee Home app. The LED TV light also offers various scene modes,...
  • Easy App Control: Govee Home app can customize a bunch of settings over 16 million colors, to decorate your TV/monitors with fun. You can make custom light styles...
  • Memory Function: An automatic memory function of Govee TV LED backlights can easily maintain your favourite settings on brightness and colors. With Govee Home app,...
  • Easy to Install: With adhesive, clips and corner wire connector, the TV LED backlights, made of 4 parts of 20 inch light strips, is flexible to stick stable and bend. USB...
Check Price on Amazon

Lower Screen Brightness

An easy way to reduce the contrast of your monitor from your surroundings is to lower your monitor’s brightness. 

Screens can get really bright these days, so the factory setting for brightness might not be the best for eye strain. I like to set my screen brightness at the lowest acceptable level during the middle of the day. 

That way I don’t need to keep changing my brightness as daylight increases. 

Use Blue Blocker Glasses or Night Mode

Blue lights have always been harsh on your eyes. Here’s a study from Harvard University on the effect blue lights can have on our eyes. 

Two ways to combat this are using blue-blocking glasses, or turning on night mode on your electronics when your environment gets dimmer.  

Blue blocking glasses are an accessory you have to purchase, and they tint the world a little bit orange. If you want to accessorize, grab yourself a pair.

If you don’t want to spend any money, simply turn on Night Mode on your phone and computer. This is present on most modern devices. This mode simply reduces the blue and white lights on your screens. 

You’ll notice everything gets a slightly warmer tone in the absence of blue lights. I have my devices automatically switch to night mode after 7 pm. This is when my apartment gets less natural light. 

Use Programs In Dark Mode

Another setting you can change on your devices is to use Dark Mode. 

Instead of your operating system being bright white (which contains lots of blue light and is harder on the eyes) you instead have an all-black or dark gray operating system. 

I love dark mode, I have this setting activated on all my devices. My Windows computer and my Android phone are both in dark mode. 

Less bright menus and such means my eyes are a bit more relaxed and less prone to a random bright white screen when it’s dark. 

Take Regular Breaks

Last but not least, if you are at a computer all day long, take regular breaks. 

Many people like to use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. 

Better yet, go for a walk! 

Ultimately a healthy break every so often will give your eyes a much-needed break and may even re-energize you when it’s time to come back to your desk. 

Setup Your Monitor Properly

We have a dedicated article on the proper height of your monitor and the proper distance depending on your screen size

A monitor that is way too close to you will be hard to balance out with other lighting. A good rule of thumb is for a monitor to be an arm’s length away in distance. 

With regards to monitor height, you want to be looking at the top of your monitor when sitting in a neutral posture. 

Photo of author

Dasun

I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!

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