There has been numerous posts about developers that prefer a dark color scheme in their IDE. Most of the themes at studiostyl.es are dark themes.

Back when I had a single monitor, I did enjoy using a dark theme since it was easier on the eyes. But now that I utilize multiple monitors, I find dark themes actually hurt my eyes. Most of the time I have my IDE open on one monitor and a browser/email/documentation open on my other monitors. Only my IDE has a dark theme and most of websites/documentation have a white background. This forces my eyes to constantly adjust between my dark IDE and the white website, which puts strain on my eyes.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who tries to use a dark theme for the IDE and have multiple monitors. How do other people deal with this issue?

  • Use the Zenburn theme. It's "dark" but not too dark, so it can be effectively used in both light and dark environments.
    – aqua
    Mar 13, 2011 at 5:07
  • I have a similar setup as yours, and it is really not an issue for me, my eyes do not start hurting because of the contrast between a dark and a bright monitor. But of course, that doesn't help you.
    – Pete
    Jan 14, 2012 at 16:05

4 Answers 4


That's what helps me:

  • Keep the brightness knob of your monitor to the minimum comfortable value; usually this takes cranking up contrast a bit.

  • Don't use a totally black background, the contrast it gives is way high. My scheme uses dark gray background, and black background is only used to 'highlight' current line.

  • Tune your desktop color scheme. Make it less bright. Usually you can't use a really dark background as default, because many apps stubbornly assume a light background and become illegible on a dark background. But something reasonably dimmed and lightly tinted is easy to the eyes and play well with dark background of editor windows.

That's what my desktop and IDE colors look like. Yes, this is IDEA and Linux, not VS and Windows, but there's nothing fancy, though.

For pages that look excessively high-contrast, I use Webpage Decorator and Readability extensions for Chrome. This page with white background, though, doesn't hurt my eyes on my monitor.

  • A great answer; I agree with everything you suggested. I'm a huge fan of dark color schemes and 3+ monitors. And bonus points for posting a screenshot! Apr 1, 2011 at 11:33

Solarized is a theme made with just what you have in mind. I don't know just whether they made a Visual Studio port just yet, but I wouldn't be suprised. Vim and Emacs are supported.

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  • A Visual Studio port is available, though you have to decide upfront which theme you use, either the dark or light one. Switching can't be done on the fly.
    – Htbaa
    Apr 9, 2012 at 8:38

I started using dark themes long before windows. I prefer to have all my modifiable interfaces to have dark themes. It is easier on the eyes. I have multiple monitors and multiple computers on my desktop, 3 computers with 4 monitors linked using Synergy, and I don't have the problem. MY desktops are also dark colored, and I haven't had the problem. MY monitors are balanced in brightness and I make sure that I have no glare on the screens (no i don't use the glare filters).
One of my worst problems is when the lighting in the room becomes unbalanced and I get glare. Then my eyes get tired.


I have two color schemes one for high light environments and one for low light environments. I switch between the two when the need arises.

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