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Eye strain from LED backlighting in MacBook Pro

432114 Views 1,978 Replies Latest reply: Apr 15, 2014 9:01 AM by Jessiah1 RSS Branched to a new discussion.
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
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    Mar 1, 2012 10:29 AM (in response to dj_rag)

    "...i took it to a genius bar and the apple genius did some tests on it and said it was a failed graphics card...+ prob the most expensive repair, something around £500"

     

    dj_rag: the GPU is not a separate card in any MBP. It's soldered to the logic board, which contains most of the guts of the computer. The logic board must be replaced to replace the GPU, and that's why it's so expensive.

  • Gurm42 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 1, 2012 11:42 AM (in response to dj_rag)

    You are confusing terms.

     

    LCD is the display technology. A laptop or flat panel uses EITHER an LCD (liquid crystal) display OR an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display. The panels in Macbooks are all LCD. OLED is commonly used in things like MP3 players or... notably... the Retina display.

     

    The backlight on the display, however, can be EITHER CCFL (compact fluorescent) or LED (light emitting diode). LED uses less power and lasts longer so it is coming into more common use. Both types can't really be "turned up or down", and so have to either be cycled or turned off in sections in order to dim the screen. That's where we are running into problems. The CCFL cycling seems to be less terrible by a long shot, but also uses more energy and wears out faster.

  • MisterMojo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 1, 2012 1:36 PM (in response to Gurm42)

    Gurm42, perhaps you can answer a question for me: What kind of backlighting is used in OLED panels? I assume that it is LED but it seems to be different than other Apple LED displays.

     

    I'm curious because I am in the market for another portable Mac. The rumors about the possibility of a Retina display being introduced in MacBook Pros has me waiting to see what happens...

     

    FWIW, the display in my early 2008 pre-unibody 15" MacBook Pro, which I believe was LED, never gave me any problems. Nor do my first generation iPad and iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S. But the 11" MacBook Air caused a headache within 15 minutes and eyestrain tha lasted for over eight hours.  My early 2011 13" MBP also caused eyestrain but not as severe as the MBA.

     

    My 24" circa-2006 2.16GHz iMac and my NEC 24" WUXi2 CCFL displays are also problem-free.

     

    What I find perplexing about all this is Apple's total silence on the matter. I assume that Apple moderators read at least some of the threads on this forum. And a thread that was begun in late 2008 and that has as many posts as this one does would surely attract attention. But as far as I know there hasn't been a peep from Apple.

     

    One would hope that Apple would be concerned enough about this issue to contact some of the people who have posted in this thread and have their engineers looking into the problem. As a long-time Apple customer and someone who has convinced more than a few people to switch, it is disconcerting to me that Apple seems to be ignoring a serious health-related issue that is affecting a significant number of customers.

     

    On a related note, I would love to have the opportunity to address Apple designers about the lack of basic ergonomic adjustments for iMacs and Apple displays, as well as the limited options for purchasing anti-glare displays. Currently only the 15" and 17" MacBook Pros are available with matte LCDs.

  • azure8 Calculating status...
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    Mar 1, 2012 2:05 PM (in response to MisterMojo)

    "What I find perplexing about all this is Apple's total silence on the matter. I assume that Apple moderators read at least some of the threads on this forum. And a thread that was begun in late 2008 and that has as many posts as this one does would surely attract attention. But as far as I know there hasn't been a peep from Apple."

     

    That's why we're having a vintage macbook party. I wonder if there are any types of film that we could use on the display to alleviate the problem.

  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
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    Mar 1, 2012 3:32 PM (in response to MisterMojo)

    What I find perplexing about all this is Apple's total silence on the matter. I assume that Apple moderators read at least some of the threads on this forum. And a thread that was begun in late 2008 and that has as many posts as this one does would surely attract attention. But as far as I know there hasn't been a peep from Apple.

     

    One would hope that Apple would be concerned enough about this issue to contact some of the people who have posted in this thread and have their engineers looking into the problem. As a long-time Apple customer and someone who has convinced more than a few people to switch, it is disconcerting to me that Apple seems to be ignoring a serious health-related issue that is affecting a significant number of customers.

     

    Apple notebook sales figures for 2006 through 2009, reprinted in Wikipedia, show sales of about 15.75 milliion Intel-based Mac notebooks in those first four years. Suppose only 1/3 of those, or 5.25 million, were MBPs, and suppose that not one more MBP has been sold since the end of 2009, which is far from true. Now suppose that every post in this thread came from a different headache/eyestrain sufferer (which isn't true, but let's pretend), and suppose further that for each and every one of those [currently 258] people, there were a hundred other similarly afflicted people who haven't found their way to these forums or haven't realized that their displays are what's bothering them, for a total of 25,800. If all these suppositions were true, then this acute problem that appears, if one reads only these forum posts, to be so widespread and commonplace turns out to afflict not quite 0.5% of MBP users. Even if I've underestimated the number of sufferers by a full order of magnitude, 95% of MBP users are unaffected. And that doesn't count all the unafflicted buyers from 2010, 2011 and the first sixth of 2012, but it does count the ones who are suffering and represented by posts here. This may make it a little easier to understand why Apple hasn't gone into emergency-response mode over this problem.

    On a related note, I would love to have the opportunity to address Apple designers about the lack of basic ergonomic adjustments for iMacs and Apple displays, as well as the limited options for purchasing anti-glare displays. Currently only the 15" and 17" MacBook Pros are available with matte LCDs.

     

    You do have that opportunity:

     

    http://www.apple.com/feedback/

     

    Pick the product you want to talk about and address away to your heart's content.

  • Gurm42 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 1, 2012 4:35 PM (in response to MisterMojo)

    [quote]

    Gurm42, perhaps you can answer a question for me: What kind of backlighting is used in OLED panels? I assume that it is LED but it seems to be different than other Apple LED displays.

    [/quote]

     

    Well to answer your question... OLED displays actually use a grid of tiny organic LED's. They are their OWN light. There is no "backlighting", per se - or it is very limited. The panel itself provides the light output, or a great deal of it.

     

    Now of course, OLED has the potential to suffer from similar problems to LED backlighting - in that the number of cycles per second determine the intensity... but in practice, it seems that it is far less painful to view... I'm hopeful for the retina display.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 1, 2012 4:56 PM (in response to Gurm42)

    A bit more to add about the OLED. According to this "How stuffs works" article on OLED, it states "The intensity or brightness of the light depends on the amount of electrical current applied: the more current, the brighter the light."

    While sometimes the "How stuffs works" articles heavily simplifies the technical details to illustrate a concept, from what I understanded, it seems OLED doesn't require PWM in controlling the brightness. The brightness can be adjusted by simply varying the electrical current applied to the organic material.

     

    If that's true... then that could be a way to end our eye sufferings on LED backlit displays. Really look forward to that.

  • Gurm42 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Also, let's be clear - Apple hasn't responded to this thread because they... don't care. Minority groups of users are the absolute LAST thing Apple has ever cared about. I say this UNEQUIVOCALLY.

  • MisterMojo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 1, 2012 5:25 PM (in response to eww)

    We really have no idea how many people are suffering from the problem: it could be a small percentage or a lot of people. From what I have read here and elsewhere many people may think that they are the problem, so they visit an eye doctor or other health care professional. Or they simply endure the problem until they cannot take it any more and sell the offending Mac...

     

    As far as contacting Apple via the feedback link... Been There, Done That. For all I know, messages sent to that and other Apple feedback addresses automatically wind up in a spam folder. I've never received a response (I didn't expect a response, but it would be a nice surprise...) nor have I ever seen a change in Apple products that lead me to believe that Apple pays them any mind.

     

    But it does provide the illusion of being empowered, a part of the Apple Community.  Yeah, right...

     

    It sort of makes me nostalgic for the days when Apple's stock price was stuck at around $14 a share and the company still seemed to care about us diehard photography and graphic pros and the educational accounts that were keeping the company afloat. Since Apple has plunged into the consumer market and become the latest technological success story, we long-time Apple customers seemed to have been forgotten.

  • scy123 Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 2, 2012 8:26 AM (in response to eww)

    i am using 13.3 inch MBP with glossy LED display and i am suffering from the eyestrain problem for using the laptop.

    Now, i want to know, whether Apple can do something on this ? Something like - putting another external screen which will give relief for my eye. Else, even i am thinking, if there is a better solution, i am prepared for paying to Apple for a permanent solution to my problem - may be changing the display from LED gloss to LCD display which will be soothing for my eye. Please inform.

    --

    Thnaks and Regards,

    scy123.

  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 2, 2012 10:57 AM (in response to scy123)

    scy123: You already have an LCD display. The image on your screen is produced by an LCD panel. LCDs transmit light, but they don't produce any, so a separate backlight source is necessary. That's what the LEDs behind your LCD display are for.

  • Gurm42 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 2, 2012 11:03 AM (in response to scy123)

    SCY123:

     

    The answer is "no". Apple does not in fact sell any displays that won't hurt your eyes. And no, they don't care. They will happily take your money, sell you a Cinema Display or Thunderbolt Display for $2500, and then be all puzzled and bewildered when you say that it ALSO hurts your eyes.

     

    The shocking but obvious conclusion is that those of us who can't look at these displays are in a small enough minority that Apple simply doesn't care. We're hopeful that retina displays will solve our problems, but honestly I've never seen one bigger than 4" so it's hard to say.

  • MysticKatDaddy Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 7, 2012 7:48 PM (in response to Gurm42)

    I found some tests someone did that might explain why your eyes hurt. I have photophobia and migraine so I am sensetive to things like fleurescent lights and different types of computer displays.

     

    This video shows the flicker rate of different types of monitors using an osciliscope:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmRypg9UR0s

     

    This video does the test with a MacBook Air:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKJhHK0bjpw

     

    You can do your own test with an ascilliscope with photodiodes attached. For the super vast majority of people this is not that big of a problem. Photophobia is really rare so the responsible thing is to rule out other factors first. If you can find an eye doctor who is familiar with photophobia I think they can do some tests to determine if you have light sensetivity. Pulse width modulation might be the problem. It is a technique used to accurately change the brightness in displays. It was harder to control brightness accurately on lcd monitors before this technology was in widespread use. The modulation frequency is lower for LED monitors so that may be why people are having more problems with them than standard CCFL backlit lcd monitors. I am purchasing a display tested to not have this feature but the display is old and was released in 2005 so it will not have as good as a picture as the new displays.

     

    If anyone has any information on displays that do not use this technology, feel free to contact me. I would like to find a modern display that doesn't use pulse width modulation, even if it is like $1000 or more.

  • jaminhubner Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Those are some good videos. The last one is very revealing. As far as I'm concerned, Apple has been publicly and scientifically exposed that consumers aren't lying about their experience...

     

    I was thinking the other day that there would be an easy solution to all this: somehow rig an HDMI input and full power with 120hz refresh on a kindle DX and use it as a computer screen. Yeah, no color, but it would cause absolutely NO strain on the eyes - especially if natural light from windows was used.

    I seriously think they may start considering something like a dual-screen monitor, with one layer of e-ink and another behind it of regular LCD, so you can turn one on and off depending on your situation (eg. watching videos are typing and reading text). That's the whole reason I bought my kindle in the first place: it didn't have a backlight of any kind, and I hated reading PDFs on computer screens (esp LED backlit!).

  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,305 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 7, 2012 8:34 PM (in response to scy123)

    scy123 wrote:

     

    i am using 13.3 inch MBP with glossy LED display and i am suffering from the eyestrain problem for using the laptop

     

    Take it back and get a 15" anti-glare and see how that works for you.

     

    I'm on a 17" anti-glare for 10 or 20 hours a day, weeks at a time and have no issues, but 2 hours on a glossy screen and I've got eyestrain and headaches galore.

     

    I've worked very hard, bribed Steve Jobs and family with flowers /chocolate to get a anti-glare screen option on Mac's and then only got it on portable Mac's of 15" and 17" sizes.

     

    If you want to join the protest against the industry inflicting glossy displays on people, sign up here.

     

    https://macmatte.wordpress.com/

     

    Remember the reason LCD's were so much better than CRT's of old was because their screens were easier on the eyes, but as soon as CRT's died off, back come glossy displays because they are cheaper and have less defects (no need for the matte film) than glossy.

     

    So it's a industry wide problem (Mac's and PC's), but pressing Apple is a good way because we pay more for our machines and thus should have a anti-glare option or easy ability wtihout having to apply a expensive, nasty looking film.

     

    There are anti-glare options from a few computer makers like Leveno (and perhaps even Dell), but your buying a Chinese PC.

     

    Other option is to buy a graphics artist monitor, which is usually always anti-glare.

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