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Eye strain from LED backlighting in MacBook Pro

430951 Views 1,978 Replies Latest reply: Apr 15, 2014 9:01 AM by Jessiah1 RSS Branched to a new discussion.
  • Slunce Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 24, 2012 8:42 AM (in response to eww)



    I agree that I and other affected users are in (great) minority which is why this is only going to get fixed by either coincidence or will disappear with a new technology.


    I do not want to attack apple for its shiny stores which I have always admired - it was more of a sigh over the fact that in this consumption era all the gloss and glitter always takes precedence over anything else (cameras exaggerate colors, consumer hifi (ah that's a contradiction) exaggerate sound (bass and treble), TVs exaggerate brightnes beyond comfortable levels, etc.)


    In short to make something look good is these days is more important than to actually make it good, natural and real. As it simply sells better...


    But I agree I might be in minority even with my pesimistic view on today's world and its mainstream values


    Sorry for getting carried away from the topic.


    Best Regards,



    EDIT: Speaking about minority (which we surely are anyway) also consider the fact that not everybody finds this thread, not everybody has got the need to contribute and there are people who returned the machine without actually being able to investigate that it was the screen - I personally know 2 people who returned it just for feeling unconmfortable and only when we discussed in detail they realised that it was this issue.


    So ... yes our presence here is in tens or hundreds, in reality it might be thousads (still nothing I know, but considering Apple is not that wide-spread in some parts of the world like Europe the number of affected users is guaranteed to grow going forward).

  • LovesDogs0415 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    May 26, 2012 6:52 AM (in response to Slunce)

    Thank you so much for updating this thread.  This will help those of us affected keep the pressure on Apple to be responsive to this problem.  I fear I am using my last Apple laptop if this can't be addressed.  I was shocked that I couldn't use the new iTouch.  I love Apple products, but I do not love headaches and severe eye strain.

  • 4esperanza Calculating status...
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    May 26, 2012 2:41 PM (in response to Slunce)

    I am so grateful to have found this site!  Like many of you, I couldn't figure out what was causing the headaches and vertigo after just a short time using the newer Macs.  I've tried laptops, iMac, everything seems to hurt my eyes, and quickly.  It seems if enough of us are sensitive to this, Apple might make at least one monitor that we can use.  I've been wanting to replace my ancient iMac, but it seems the only Apple option is to get a Mac Mini and use an external monitor without these problems. 


    I'd really appreciate further suggestions about the external monitors--I've not found anything "for around $300" that seems appropriate.


    Thank you so much for this community sharing!

  • MisterMojo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    May 26, 2012 8:16 PM (in response to 4esperanza)

    4esperanza wrote:


    I'd really appreciate further suggestions about the external monitors--I've not found anything "for around $300" that seems appropriate.



    You don't detail what you mean by "appropriate" but NEC has around thirty CCFL backlit displays that start at $300 MSRP.  I haven't had a lick of trouble with mine.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 31, 2012 12:04 AM (in response to MisterMojo)

    I had a chat with a friend who dealt with some LED lighting products recently, he shared with me one possible reason why our eyes found it irritating looking at the LED backlight. He's not a very technical person and I'm not sure if I fully understand what he meant, but here's the idea:


    Basically, the light that LED emits is a pretty focused point of light source. It would cause dis-comfort when we try to look at a strong LED directly with our bare eyes. In order to ease that discomfort, some manufacturers would align the LEDs at an angle and/or add a filter in front of the lights to make the light more diffused. If that hasn't been done properly, our eyes would feel uncomfortable.


    So, the problem that we are experiencing could be due the LED alignment and/or the filter of the backlight.


    Put that idea forward a little, having a filter in front of the LED would inevitibly causes some loss of brightness. While generally this loss of brightness efficiency is probably low, Apple *may* still try to optimize (or make weaker) the filter in order to save a tiny bit more battery power. This "weaker" filter probably doesn't diffuse the light well enough to make our eyes feel comfortable.

    Or maybe the other way round, Apple may have used some stronger LED which the standard filter couldn't diffuse the light well enough to be comfortable to some of us. (brighter screens don't always mean better!!)


    I'm not sure if these make any sense, just some food of thought.


    By the way, I have come up with an idea. Perhaps we can stick those glare reduction films (those we stick on windows to reduce sunlight) onto the LED screens and see if that could ease our eyes.

    I haven't yet tried that myself, but I'm thinking of trying it when I'm less busy with work.

  • peter_watt Level 2 Level 2 (380 points)
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    May 31, 2012 12:38 AM (in response to Eric Leung1)

    First time I have read this thread (new to Mac). Maybe I am too old for my eyes to notice a flicker,  maybe It's because I spent my working life since 1980 staring at screens from green and black, through colour CRT, TFT etc, and now to LCD with Mac and Playbook , but I LOVE the latest screens.


    Advice for anyone experiencing eye strain with new equipment, visit an optician first before joining this mass hysteria. Its probably the smaller fonts.

  • Slunce Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    May 31, 2012 1:02 AM (in response to peter_watt)

    For example I have been.


    But anyway - people joining this hysteria are quite often like me. They use a laptop/computer for considerable amount of hours every single day - and for number of years. I do for 8-10 hours a day for like almost 20 years. That includes CRT, even ordinary TV connected to Atari 800xe.


    Not once I have had any issues. However put a MBP in front of me for like 15 minutes and I get a headache. Exchange it for another laptop and let me star at it for 10 hours and I am just fine.


    It's not fonts. I use much higher resolution on my other equipment than MBP provides. No issues. It's not even the awful Apple font antialiasing I got sort of used to. It is THE screen.


    Whilst I agree that optician can reveal issue with one's eyes I tend to think that here we rather need a technician to reveal issue with the technology - which is undoubtly present even though it does not cause issue to all.


    Best Regards,


  • Slunce Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 31, 2012 1:05 AM (in response to Eric Leung1)

    This is very interesting even though I do not grasp what EXACTLY is supposed to be happening howvever that might explain why I do not feel exactly the same using Dell's LED screens (Latitude noteboks) and Apple's LED screens.


    Dell screen is much easier on my eyes and I noticed that its colors are washed out compared to Apple.


    Yet another variable ;-)


    Thanks for posting.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 31, 2012 1:31 AM (in response to Slunce)

    Not sure which Dell screen you're using, but I guess the reason why the color on your Dell screen is relatively washed out could probably due to a TN panel rather than the IPS panels used by Apple

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 31, 2012 1:36 AM (in response to peter_watt)

    @Peter: That's good for you that you found the new displays to be great!


    I myself have done multiple eye checks and confirmed my eyes to be ok. I really wish to love the new displays too, but they are giving me genuine headaches...


    I'm sure this problem doesn't exists for everyone, as I know many people who enjoy the new Apple laptops dearly. But, it's also clear that the new displays are causing troubles to a (maybe small) portion of people...

  • FNP7 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    May 31, 2012 2:37 AM (in response to peter_watt)



    I've adjusted the fonts, I've been to the opticians - neither made things better. I haven't yet been to a psychiatrist to check whether or not I'm hysterical, though, so maybe that's the next step. Thanks ;-)


    In all seriousness, I'm glad you're experiencing no issues with the Apple displays. It's important for the very small minority of us who do to recognise that the overwhelming majority do not; however, the reverse, based on the totality of comments in this thread, seems also to be true.

  • Slunce Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 31, 2012 6:48 AM (in response to Eric Leung1)

    @Eric - I've tried Latitude series (I used that for several months as a work laptop, however most of the time connected to a CCFL external screen. Sometimes I used it on its own and although I did not like it it was easier on my eyes than MBP laptops).


    Also note that no MBP laptop features IPS screen to this date. iPad yes, I think iMac might too - but not MBP.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 31, 2012 7:33 AM (in response to Slunce)

    Oh sorry I mis-read your previous message! I thought you were comparing a desktop Dell LED monitor with the Apple Cinema Display.

    Yes, you're right. None of the Mac laptops got IPS, but the iPad and iMac do.

    So... looks like Apple's laptop displays can produce relatively good color when our eyes can look at them comfortably

  • sholto3 Calculating status...

    pixel eater,


    here's my case:


    old ccfl backlit sony vaio didn't seem to bother my eyes (but now totally obsolete)


    samsung q330 - led backlit laptop - horrible for my eyes (burning sensation + they go red but no actual damage according to optician). i could use it for short bursts before but now i can't even bare to switch it on. effect seems to be cumulative.


    brand new macbook pro 15" with high res-anti glare screen - led backlit - horrible for my eyes - its not quite as acute as the samsung but its obviously the same problem - I persevered for 10 days, even thought/hoped that the problem might be psychogenic, but now have returned to my senses and sent it back.


    v. annoying as all other aspects of the apple were great.


    just to be clear, i don't get dizzy or headaches, i just get really sore, burnt feeling eyes. although the symptoms are apparently consistent with simple dryness, eye drops do not solve the problem.


    all i know for sure from the 3 screens i've used is that CCFL was ok and LED is horrible. What i'm not 100% clear on is whetehr this means i am likely averse to all LED screens...


    looks from this thread like the ipad 3 causes similar issues... is this right?


    what about the macbook air - its LED but it seems to be a bit different from the macbook pro but has anyone actually tried it?


    what about earlier ipads?


    short of carying a seperate screen in a rucksack, i need a laptop - if LED is a no, no, can anyone tell me what the highest spec windows laptop with CCFL is that i can get second hand? - it seems that all new ones are LED...

  • sholto3 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 7, 2012 5:50 AM (in response to sholto3)

    also worth noting is that the light from halogen heaters has a similar effect on my eyes and sitting in front of them makes me feel like i am being cooked to my core! maybe this sensetivity is somehow related??

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