I've been having all the same problems and was about to give up on my 2010 Macbook Air 13" when I suddenly hit on a solution that works for me. I'd still go back to the old-style backlight if there was the option, but I don't get significant eye pain with the LED any more.
These are the changes I made:
1. Changed the colour temperature to exactly 5000K via the calibration in Displays.
2. Increased gamma to maximum, also via the calibration. (I doubt whether this was actually helpful but I don't want to change anything now it's alright.)
3. Ensured font smoothing is set to default (see 'Deleting the font smoothing override' at http://macperformanceguide.com/Trials-FontSmoothing.html ).
4. Enabled "Use LCD font smoothing" in Appearance (which is the default).
5. Disable any third-party colour temperature software, such as Flux, and reboot.
I'm sure this isn't much good if your work requires precise colours, but it's made a big difference to me. I'd fiddled with font settings trying to improve matters, but with the colour temperature at 5000K the defaults now look good. Flux works by changing the colour temperature too, so I'm not surprised many people have reported an improvement with it.
Just my 100 won's worth. YMMV.
Since I got this machine, I have had eye strain, headaches (I also have the MBP 17" Core Duo with CCFL backlighting and I never had such issues before).
Since I have the Hi-Resolution Antiglare Widescreen Display, the issue is not due to the reflective glass.
Using http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/inversion.php#invpattern I find that I have least problems with VERY LOW backlighting (two rectangles), which seems to be confirmed by my eyes (and disable the auto adjustment with ambient light).
This is really really disappointing.
I too have experienced headaches and eye strain from using the recently purchased MBP 15" HR glossy screen. The machine itself is beautiful, extremely well made with the unbelievable unibody alu design, and the custom made one I bought was lightning fast and very responsive with its SSD, 8GB RAM and higher end ATI video card. But despite all of the above the machine overall gets a 1 star from me due to the sheer unpleasantness resulting from having to look at that screen. Eye strain, headaches in spades!
In my opinion, it's the extremely low quality TN screen that Apple uses in this $3k notebook that's responsible for all the problems, not the LED.
Has anyone yet complained of eye strain associated with working with the LED backlit IPS screen used in the ipad? Or the iphone? Or the Apple cinema display (except in a very few cases)?
Anyone working with photography can't possibly help but notice how extremely poor is the angle view on this display. Just look straight to the center of this image and see how the screen is much darker towards the bottom and washed out towards the top. Look at a photograph of a human head that fills out the entire screen, look at the skin tones: If you change the angle of the screen so that the skin looks realistic in the middle, you'll see that, towards the bottom, it gets orange and towards the top, it gets really washed out, cadaver-like. Unacceptable in a $3k laptop! Look at the screen showing a solid grey color, same thing.
Needless to say this POS screen is going back, too bad that, otherwise, the laptop is ptop notch!
Apple, please don't insult your customers by selling them expensive laptops with POS screens, PLEASE start using IPS screens in your laptops, like you do in your ipads and iphones!
I think this is an incredibly important issue, since the move to LED-backlit monitors is absolutely massive, and if LED backlighting has a potentially harmful (or at least, more irritating) effect on eyesight than traditional non-LED LCD screens, we're talking about a technological shift with significant implications on general computer use and perhaps human health. Indeed, I truly believe this is not about Apple, but about the shift to LED-backlit monitors. And since this is the only real meaningful discussion on this subject on the web (and I have looked thoroughly), please accept my concerns below even though I do not use the new macbook pro being immediately talked about.
I bought an LG 24" HDMI monitor for my PC because it was big and cheap, and LED LCD was all the rage when I bought it about two years ago. I received headaches immediately and a piercing pain in my eyes after about two weeks of using it - definitely not a kind of pain or irritation that I've ever had before, not even using CRTs. At first, I just told myself "it's a new monitor, I'll get used to it." But after the problems didn't go away, and after doing a week or so of switching back to a traditional LCD, and then back to the LED LCD monitor, the results were consistent enough to where I eventually put the 24" LED LCD up for sale and bought a 23" non-LED LCD monitor which I currently use. I've had no eye irritation or major headaches since.
But that's not my argument. What needs to be said in a discussion like this - one that is so often plagued with technological fallacies and myths of every kind - is that there are (to my knowledge) differences in the physical, technological features between the LED-backlit monitor and the traditional LCD. Time does not allow me to go into the details, but plainly said, LED backlit screens parallel far closer the "staring into a strobelight" description than traditional LCDs.
Now, I can't verify this, but my suspicion is that this is why TV manufacturers have increased the refresh rate from the traditional 60z to 120hz, and even 240hz - where the flicker is virtually non-existent (at least to the human eye). It's not as if any human being can tell the difference between a 120 and a 240hz refresh rate; the human eye fills in the blanks after about 30-60 frames (which is why civilization has been content with a 15 fps VHS for so long, and why the vast majority of TV viewers are content with DVD's 30fps refresh rate). Buying a 240hz screen over a 120hz screen is just silly, and their creation is either (a) a vain attempt to attract certain kinds of consumers who want to be on the cutting edge - even if its useless, or (b) screen makers aren't telling us that they're selling super-high refresh rate LED screens because they eliminate eye-strain and headaches, and they would rather do that to keep consumers happy than be labeled "old tech" by reviewers or have to spend millions for organic LED screens (what we are all looking forward to) that are not in demand (since they are too spendy).
So, the queston is, if a Macbook Pro (or any LED backlit screen for that matter) would change their default refresh rates to a solid 120 or 240hz, would the eye irritation and headaches go away? That would be great, and there needs to be some testing there. And secondly, if symptoms don't go away after that change, will Apple or any company for that matter, listen to the facts of the consumer experience and offer both LED and non-LED LCD screens? Thirdly and finally, if nothing consistent results in testing between refresh rates of LED backlit screens, then perhaps the issue is the color (as others have said in these discussions), or something else we just aren't aware of.
20+ years of using Mac's
1: Refective CRT Mac's - eyestrain and headaches
2: LCD panels - a welcome relief as they were matte finish
Went for the last 7 years with a matte screen, no problem
Bought a Mac for a friend
3: MacBook - glossy screen - eyestrain and headaches
The problem returned after such a long absence and in a mere 3 days of use
After a week, I couldn't use the computer anymore
4: 17" MacBook Pro - anti-glare screen - no issue
Glare is a issue, so is flickering. Both need to be eliminated.
I'm sorry to hear so many people with sensitivities to the screen. I was on the forums yesterday for 10 or 11 hours. No issues. I'm fortunate I guess. I've never seen the flickeriing OP are referring to. Not that I want to but...
Hope everyone finds a solution for themselves.
P.S. The only flickering I do notice is when scrolling a webpage, but I thought that was just the nature of the screen.
Since my post of Nov. 29th 2010, things do not go better (for me and also for others, if have a look at this discussion thread ) . I have tried everything with my iMac 27" ( installing "shades", change resolution, control of brightness, etc) and I also went to an eye specialist (my eyes are too dry but they are ok, altough I have the impression that my vision is getting worse ). The eye strain is still there and I use my iMac only when I need to. I am really disappointed.
At work, I use an "old" Hewlett Packard LP L1750 screen, and after 6-8 hours using it, I dont' feel any pain at all.
I think it's a shame that Apple do not even react to any of these comments.
They don't seem to care at all.
I bought a new iMac two days ago and it's already clear that I can't tolerate the LED backlighting. Such a shame - the new iMac represents great value but it really is deeply unpleasant to sit in front of it for any length of time. This problem clearly affects only a very small proportion of users, which makes it unlikely that Apple will do anything about it.
This problem clearly affects only a very small proportion of users, which makes it unlikely that Apple will do anything about it.
True. Those who can't find a way to tolerate it will probably have to resort to using old equipment, because for the rest of us, LED backlighting is far, far better than fluorescent backlighting (brighter, more energy-efficient, more stable in color and intensity over time, and less consumptive of toxic materials that must be disposed of as hazardous waste). The whole TV and computer monitor industry is rapidly converting to LED.
It would be completely unlike Apple to revert to fluorescent backlighting unless someone can document with indisputable clarity that LED backlighting causes adverse health effects even among the great majority of people who don't experience any discomfort when using it.
Add me to the list, the LED backlights are unbearable, eyestrain city, feels like your eyes are gonna explode after 10 minutes.. did not realise until after the return period of course.. never had a problem before in 15 yrs using macs, ive had plenty of powermac/powerbooks/macbookpro/studio and cinema displays all with CRT or CCFL and only had the awful eye pain issue since the getting the LED backlit model MBP, additionally i have had no problem since i stopped using the macbookpro with LED display...
I found getting a cheap TN CCFL backlit external display solved the eyestrain issue almost immediately, the super expensive laptop now sits on the corner of the desk with the lid shut like a way overpriced mac mini..
I have the LED glossy 17 MBP, i wasnt sure if it was...
1, the retina burning bright LED backlights?
2, the addition of all the reflected light in your eyes from the glass display?
3, the ridiculously overly high res?
4, or a combination effect..
I do now think it is down to the LED's, as postings show people with anti glare coated screens have the same issue, and zooming in on text when reading seems to make no difference, doesnt matter how big i make the text it is still painful and hard work to read, i can't work for more than 10 mins on this laptop.
So apparently... the white LED's are actually BLUE LED's with a yellow coating to make them appear white, and they cant be dimmed by voltage changes so they use this pulse modulation thing... i certainly won't be buying any more devices with built in LED screens, that rules out pretty much all apple products..
I bought my first 17" MacBook Pro in early 2008, and I've always loved the product. I recently decided to upgrade to the 2011 model, but after five minutes I noticed that I had terrible pain behind my eyes and a splitting headache. I felt like my eyes couldn't focus anywhere on the screen. It was a really weird sensation. I figured I just needed to get used to the new product, and at the time I didn't even consider something like different backlighting.
I tried to adjust to the new screen over a period of almost two weeks, but every night I just went to bed with a stronger headache, and I rarely experience headaches. Feeling as though I must be going crazy, I decided to do a simple Internet search to see if anyone else was having a similar problem. I was relieved to find that I'm not alone. I actually returned the new MacBook Pro, and the Apple employees were very nice about the transaction.
I decided to just have a few things fixed on my 2008 model of MacBook Pro, and it's once again going strong. However, I realize that I can't use this machine forever. I'm worried that when the time comes that I must purchase a new computer, I'll have to use an external LCD monitor or switch back to PC. I would really like to be able to continue using Macs. It's a shame that something like the display is keeping us from using the new, beautiful MacBooks. I'm not sure what the solution is as I recognize that it is difficult for such a large corporation to please everyone. I hope that there will eventually be a viable solution for those of us who have such a sensitivity to this type of backlighting.
I point people to this article recently published:
Then I point to Apple's upcoming OS X Lion, notice how there is more space around icons, buttons and such to better accommodate a touchscreen OS.
Obviously future Mac's are going to have a touchscreen of some sort, and thus that nulls the possibility of a anti-glare film on the surface of the glass/LCD panel to scatter reflective light.
The top MacBook Pro lines may continue to have anti-glare screen option as they are used for professional work in multiple environments (editing on the scene for instance), but at the sacrifice of not being able to use the touchscreen UI, which I don't think they will really mind, as their software requires fine control that only a pointer can provide.
The entire computer industry thinks that touchscreen computers are the next big evolutionary step, even Microsoft's Windows 8 (see it on Youtube) is a touchbased operating system
However there is hope for glossy screen sufferers, there is special glass and acrylic that is altered on the atomic surface level as the substance is produced, thus reducing surface reflections to less than 1%.
This material is more expensive, the process is patented and since China (where Apple's products are made) wants any company doing business in it's country to give up it's intellectual property, doesn't sound like this material is going to come to Apple products in any short amount of time unless Apple shifts it's manufacturing operations back to a intellectual property enforcing country. Apple is in China not only to make it's products, but also to sell them. Which the Chinese goverment requires companies that want to do buisness in their country set up manufactoring operatings there.
So forces are against glossy screen sufferers, people need to try make due with alternatives.