Did you get a new TV over the holidays? Get a good deal on one after? Whether or not you have a new TV, something to consider for your home theatre setup is proper bias lighting.

What is bias lighting? The concept is simple and can save your eyes from strain over time. Bias lighting is the practice of backlighting a television to increase the ambient light around it without directly shining into the viewer’s eyes.

Why does it work?

When we watch television in a dark room, our eyes are constantly re-adjusting and focusing to deal with the changes in the light from the screen. The contrast of the bright television with the rest of the dark room can cause quite a strain on your eyes leaving them feel fatigued after a medium-to-long session of watching TV.

Our eyes work on averages. When we stare at an object, whether it’s close to us or in the distance, light or dark, our pupils dilate to allow more or less light into our eyes. The amount they dilate is relative to the average amount of light that’ll be entering the eye, not just the brightest point.

When watching a television in a dark room, our eyes focus on a relatively small very bright area of light within a dark space. Our eyes won’t solely focus on the brightness of the screen, but of the average light of the room combined with the screen. This can not only rob you of some of the brilliance of the colour on-screen, but it can also cause fatigue with physical side effects.

Extended viewing in a dark room can lead to: dry or watery eyes, general discomfort, tension headaches, occular migraines, visual disturbances or even extreme headaches.

Setting up Your Bias Light

When looking at bias lighting, it’s important to be mindful of the colour temperature. Light bulbs measure colour temperature with a unit called the Kelvin Colour Temperature Scale. The lower the Kelvin the warmer the light will appear. Candles are 1,900 Kelvin and give off a red-yellow hue. Lights with higher Kelvin ratings often appearing colder, ranging from white to light blue.

We suggest a bias light using roughly 6,500 Kelvin as most televisions or computer screen bulbs are rated the same. Setting up your light can be as simple as setting up a clamp light to the back of your television stand, using double-sided tape and a small LED light, taping down stip LED lighting to the actual tv or even placing a lamp back behind the TV facing the wall.

However you approach it, the end goal is to provide a nice even glow around the television. So enjoy the new television as long as you want, so long as you’ve set up your backlit bias lighting!