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Eye strain from LED backlighting in MacBook Pro

432462 Views 1,978 Replies Latest reply: Apr 15, 2014 9:01 AM by Jessiah1 RSS Branched to a new discussion.
  • stylinexpat Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 14, 2010 8:59 AM (in response to RMartin111)
    I also have been getting severe eye strain and headaches recently from using my Macbook Pro. I was considering getting rid of this one and getting a regular Macbook instead of the Macbook Pro. The regular macbook seems to have less glare from he screen.

    Any thoughts..?
    Macbook, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • thisisit Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 24, 2010 11:12 PM (in response to stylinexpat)
    I don't think it's the glare that causing the problem. I used a Mac Book pro with Glossy screen for some time, and suffered from the eye strain symptoms described in this thread. I've since purchased a Mac Book with a matte screen, and no difference, I still get terrible eye strain when using the laptop. So I primarily use it with an external LCD screen now with no issues.

    It's all together possible a Mac Book would be different for some other reason.

    I cannot pin down what causes this eye strain after looking at what seem to be the 4 main potential causes Glossy (i don't belive it's this given my experience with the matte screen), LED Backlight Flickering as part of the dimming process, Brightness or the amount of Blue light from the LED Backlight.

    I am suprised given the number of people that seem to have this problem with the LED Backlit screens that no one has a real answer.
    Mac Book Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • BSteely Level 5 Level 5 (7,635 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 25, 2010 8:38 PM (in response to thisisit)
    I have an interesting update to offer. Apple may be listening to us. I just purchased, in January, a new 15" MBP. When I go into Display Preferences and view the color profile, the panel is listed as a 9CA4. This is a glossy panel. I can tell from other sources that this panel is made by Samsung.

    Anyway, what I wanted to share is the fact that the chopper circuit that controls the LED backlight dimming is operating at a far higher frequency than have been previous versions of LED backlit panels in Apple's notebooks. In fact, it looks to my eyes to be an order of magnitude higher, which would mean higher than 3 kilohertz switching. This is really good news. The frequency is so high that normal phosphor decay dominates the operating characteristic of the white LEDs in dimming mode, and not the switching frequency as was the case before. That puts LED backlit LCDs much more on par with previous generation CCFL backlit LCDs, and perhaps even better than, at least with respect to this particular type of flicker.

    If people really were suffering ill effects from the lower blinking frequency of the LEDs before, then the new ones should start reducing the number of complaints about eyestrain, headaches, dizziness, nausea, etc. that have been seen on these discussion forums. Time will tell. But I'm really encouraged by this development. Someone is listening somewhere.
  • rgrodevant Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 8, 2010 9:31 AM (in response to RMartin111)
    Fwiw, I had a 15" MBP purchased April 21, 2008; with a matte screen (my preference). For the first year and a half, I assumed it had a CCFL backlight.

    I have a seizure disorder, and I want to preface this by saying that there is nothing uniquely triggering about the MBP, as far as screen glare inducing "halos" and "auras" and migraines -- I can't use a CRT (I can see some of them rolling out of the corner of my eye), I avoid watching television, I can't stand flourescent lighting, you get the picture. What I did notice was that browsing web pages or using textedit, or any app with a lot of white real estate on the screen, was intolerable for long periods of time, probably moreso than any laptop I've owned yet. I had to keep the screen brightness to a minimum, use a dark desktop image, etc. I have just assumed that its "me" because of my longstanding sensitivities.................

    I only learned it was an LED backlight when it went in for service and the array at the bottom was replaced a few times for vertical streaking.

    Purely anecdotal here but I now have a 15" MPB purchased December 16, 2009, also with LED backlighting. It has a glossy screen, which I dislike -- I miss the matte screen -- but that is the worst thing I can say about it. So far (March 2010) I cant recall a single incident that I've had to walk away from the computer or shut it down and resume working later because of blindness / auras / etc.

    No vertical "stage lighting" effects and other issues I had with the 4/2008 MBP either so I'm guessing they're making improvements as they go along. This is "new" tech for Apple, I'm going to guess they do care and that they do pay attention to this issue.
  • EdgarMarsalla Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 10, 2010 1:40 AM (in response to rgrodevant)
    I own a MBP early 2008.
    I had never noticed a flickering on my screen.
    After I've read this forum I made the test on http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/inversion.php and I realized it flickers (just in one test (4a)

    I want to buy an external monitor.

    I would like to know if the flickering is about the MBP screen o the video card.

    I mean, with an external monitor, will I still see a flickering?

    Thank you
    Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Jeffason Level 1 Level 1 (40 points)
    when i scroll every single one of those flickers on mine....not so much with 6a/b but it still does a little i think

    when the screen is stable, 4a or b flickers

    Message was edited by: Jeffason
    MBP, Intel MacMini x 2, iPhone 3GS, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • EdgarMarsalla Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 10, 2010 12:29 PM (in response to Jeffason)
    Could anyone confirm me if the flickering is caused by the LED screen or the video card?
    If it's the screen I'll buy an external monitor


    Thank you
    Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • EdgarMarsalla Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Nobody can tell me if it's the LED screen or the video card?
    I would like to buy an external monitor and I would like to know

    Thanks
    Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • BSteely Level 5 Level 5 (7,635 points)
    Those particular test patterns flicker because of architectural requirements for driving LCD screens having nothing to do with LED backlights. So an external monitor will show the same flicker regardless of the type of backlighting used and regardless of the video card.
  • Howard_9xg3 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 21, 2010 9:16 PM (in response to BSteely)
    I tried a Macbook Air about a year ago and experienced the same problems. In spite of my best attempts to resolve -- lighting, dimming the screen, putting a filter on it, getting the 'shades' application, etc., nothing worked. I was really bummed. The problems were pretty severe....I couldn't last 30 minutes on the machine.

    I had to go back to an old Dell laptop with an LCD/CCFL backlighting.

    I remembered this forum thread from back then too, and I recently checked it to see if there was any good news. I read the most recent posts from the person with the seizure disorder and the person who checked the 'chopper' circuit and was encouraged. I decided to give a mbp another shot.

    Long story short, whatever they did between then and now works, at least for me. I am writing this after having sat at my new mbp for 15 hours and my eyes are fine. I'm really really grateful this got fixed. I hope it works for others.
    Macbook Pro
  • apple.gaurav Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 23, 2010 11:28 PM (in response to noelsmart)
    I just bought a new MBP 13.3 inches and started using it for more than 3-4 hrs a day. I started feeling headaches and motion sickness kind of feeling. Till today, I could not pin point what was causing it, in fact I also visited emergency one day just because I started feeling throwing up after coming home and felt terrible.

    After reading this article today, I felt like I have some clue about the issue. I have faced similar problems with computer monitors in the past and I know my eyes are sensitive, but I liked the colors of the LED backlit MBP so much I decided to move to mac.

    I have also ordered a matte finish filter for my Macbook thinking that might solve the problem, but until now I was trying to reduce the screen brightness and thought it will going to fix the issue. I will going to now increase the brightness as suggested by this post and see if this solves the problem. I am still under 14 days return period. I just hope it fixes the problem because I just love my new Macbook Pro.

    Thanks for this great post. I will update this if it resolves my issue.
    MC373LL/A, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • BSteely Level 5 Level 5 (7,635 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 24, 2010 7:51 AM (in response to apple.gaurav)
    apple.gaurav, I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. It sounds like Apple have not rolled out higher blinking frequency of the LED dimming control circuit across their whole product line. In that case, any enthusiasm about the improvement is premature, even though an improvement has been observed in some of Apple's notebook products. Message to Apple: Fix them all!
  • Andrew Tallon Level 1 Level 1 (95 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 10, 2010 1:20 PM (in response to RMartin111)
    Add me to the list. Just got the latest MBP i7 15inch with the hi-res matte screen. And I can't bear to look at it for very long. If I set the desktop to a basic blue, it appears to 'swim'--the pulsation is quite evident. A local tech thought I would be well to send it back, which of course I'd rather not do, but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get used to this...
    MBP 2010 i7 15", Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • sb32 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 11, 2010 11:42 PM (in response to RMartin111)
    I also traced my headaches to the backlit displays on my macs. We bought an imac and mbp abt three months ago and it wasn't long after that I started getting headaches. I work on dual screen LCDs for 60 hours a week and never experienced headaches.

    Fonts all appear to me as though they are blurry, to accommodate someone with less than perfect vision. I have better than 20/20 vision and can't stand the blurry fonts on my macs. Turning the brightness up seems to make the txt less blurry, probably because my pupils are shrinking to the point I can't see with the precision I'm accustomed to. None of the cleartype settings helped either. Forgive the rant, hope this helps someone if they experience similar issues.

    I would elaborate more but I'm getting a headache as I write this :-\
    Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • prestoncrawford Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 16, 2010 4:27 AM (in response to sb32)
    Is there any difference between a MacBook and a MacBook Pro? I picked up a MacBook Pro a couple of days ago but the aluminum cut into my arms and it caused finger pain typing on the keyboard. I returned it and picked up a MacBook. The MacBook is much better, but the display just seems "off". I'm not sure what it is. Compared to my old LCD and my current (2009) HP Laptop the screen really pops. But it seems kind of "wrong" or off. I don't know what it is. Like the whites are too white and the blacks are too black. Is this part of the phenomenon of the LED being different from an LCD monitor?

    I checked the model number of my display and I don't have the Samsung mentioned earlier. I have an LP133WX2-TLC7. Hopefully I'm going to be okay with that. Right now the monitor seems strange. Like I can't quite focus on the text the way I usually can.
    MacBook, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
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