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Eye strain from LED backlighting in MacBook Pro

431679 Views 1,978 Replies Latest reply: Apr 15, 2014 9:01 AM by Jessiah1 RSS Branched to a new discussion.
  • bodger62 Calculating status...
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    Oct 10, 2012 1:44 PM (in response to RMartin111)

    Hi,

    I have read all of this with much interest as, while looking for a replacement laptop (initially a Mac), I have been experiencing all of these symptoms. My current old Lenovo (without LED backlit screen) has been perfect for me. I am now unsure of a suitable next step for me though - I have resigned myself to the fact that a Mac is not going to be an option but it seems that I cannot purchase ANY laptop without an LED backlit screen any more. Does anyone know if there are any options for people who need a laptop, or are we restricted to running the output through an external monitor (very impractical for me as I travel with work a lot)?

  • AxelTerizaki Calculating status...
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    Oct 11, 2012 4:36 PM (in response to Eric Leung1)

    I have to say that after testing the iPhone 5 for 10 minutes or so, I, too, felt eye strain from it, just like on the iPad 3 (but not on the iPad 2)

     

    I have yet to make that flicker test on the NEC screen I have here, I'll do that tomorrow evening, most probably.

  • iobe Calculating status...
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    Oct 13, 2012 10:36 AM (in response to RMartin111)

    I received a Retina MacBook Pro this monday and immediately felt discomfort. After some continous use I get severe head ache and dizziness.

     

    I'm quite shocked by this frankly, because I've used many, many different laptops and monitors during the last 20 years and I've never experienced anything like this. Now, I've always been very picky about screens and I remember being sensitive to CRT monitors running at low frequencies (50Hz or so) and I was never a fan of the glossy laptop screens, opting for matte MacBook screens always. But I've never had this strong reaction before.

     

    Resolution is kind of a pet peeve of mine and I used to curse Apple for not having a 1920x1200 on the 15" MBP, like some PC laptops offer. For some years I had ThinkPads and EliteBooks instead, mainly for this reason. So when the Retina MBP was announced I figured it would be nirvana. And it is! For a few minutes... Before my eyes hurt and my vision goes blurry.

     

    So what's actually going on here? Before I started reading about PWM I had two theories:

     

    1. The resolution is just too high and my eyes can't handle it? But that doesn't make any sense because I can use my iPhone 4S for hours, reading articles and playing games etc without any problems. Besides I've always been a resolution nerd and my vision is literally 20/20.

     

    2. The backlight is too **** good (bright)? Well it doesn't matter if I turn the brightness down and I have an MBP from last year which is pretty bright as well.

     

    So after reading about PWM it starts to make sense. But it would be nice with some hard numbers. What frequency is used on the Retina and how does it differ from an iPhone 4S and a mid-2011 MBP (which I use for many hours a day without issues). I'm also wondering why it's doesn't make a difference to put the brightness at 100% - it should stop flickering, right? But it still hurts my eyes...

  • EyePain20_20 Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 14, 2012 4:30 PM (in response to RMartin111)

    I too have pain after minutes of use from some devices.

    Things that did NOT cause problems were:

    iPhone 3G, iPod 2, iPod 3.

    Things that DID cause problems for me were:

    iPhone 4, iPod 4, iPad 2. (which I returned all)

     

    Earlier devices seemed better for my eyes and later

    devices caused me eye pain and headaches.

     

    When the iPad 3 came out I tried it out because I wanted to

    see if the retina display helped, so I bought one. I noticed that

    that I had to turn down the brightness, but it was somewhat

    better. I then noticed that there was a burned out pixel

    so I luckily exchanged it with another. This one had burned

    out pixels, but had a bearable display. I returned for a

    third iPad 3 and noticed all of a sudden my eyes were

    starting to hurt like the previous devices (iPhone 4, iPod 4, and iPad 2).

    I returned and gave up.

    Oh yeah, this iPad 3 had burned out pixels too.

     

    *The third iPad 3 had a bluer screen (not bearable), and the first two had a yellower

    screens (bearable). Funny thing is iPhone 4 had a yellow screen,

    but hurt my eyes. And iPod 3 and iPhone 3G had blue tinted

    displays and never hurt my eyes???

     

    I also noticed something else and I cannot read the ps3 menu.

    My eyes would hurt from all versions I tried (fat and slim).  

    I also noticed something else and that the Sony blu ray

    BDP-380 caused my eyes pain, but BDP-370 and BDP-360

    were bearable. All three Blu rays had the same type of menus.

    *I can view the Xbox with no problems too.

    *These were all viewed on a CCFL LCD Sony tv.

     

    One more eye problem I had was when I installed win7

    after having xp on the same pc and same ccfl 20" LCD monitor.

     

    I hope this info helps solve this problem. :S

  • Dovez Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 14, 2012 10:31 PM (in response to EyePain20_20)

    Was the BDP-380 connected via HDMI or component? Was your 20" ccfl LCD monitor connected with a DVI cable? If it was HDMI and DVI, try connecting them via component and D-sub.If it works then all you need to do is use analogue outputs.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 15, 2012 3:11 AM (in response to Eric Leung1)

    A follow-up to my previous post regarding the discomfort of the iPhone 5 screen.

     

    I found that the followings seems to make the screen slightly more tolerable for looking:

    • Stick an anti-glare film onto the screen. The purpose isn't exactly to prevent glare, but the matte surface kind of acts as a diffuser in softening the light slightly.
    • Put on my red tinted glasses.
    • Set the brightness to very very dim.

     

    I guess the reason for the eye discomfort for this phone is probably due to the high intensity of blue in the light spectrum.

     

    I also think that the phone is causing pain to my eyes in a different way from my MacBook Air. The problem of the MacBook Air appears to be more of some hard-to-detect flickering. While the iPhone 5 is probably due to the blue light.

    One reason why I think so is because my red tinted glasses didn't seem to help when looking at the MacBook Air screen, but it seemed to ease a little when using it to look at the iPhone 5 screen.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 15, 2012 3:14 AM (in response to iobe)

    Hi iobe, can you try if flux (making your screen yellowish) help you with your Retina MacBook Pro?

     

    I suspects the Retina MacBook Pro is causing discomfort in a similar way as my iPhone 5.

  • iobe Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 15, 2012 3:28 AM (in response to Eric Leung1)

    Flux didn't make a difference for me. PWM seems to be the most likely culprit in my case.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 15, 2012 3:48 AM (in response to iobe)

    How about changing to a non-native resolution?

    Please try using a lower resolution.

    Using a non-native resolution helped me with the MacBook Air.

     

    I'm not familiar with the resolution options in the Retina MacBook Pro, but I think in order for the "non-native resolution" to help, you'll need to use those non-HiDPI modes.

    i.e. you'll need to force the display to render in a sub-optimal blurry way instead of the crisp HiDPI modes.

  • iobe Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 15, 2012 3:53 AM (in response to Eric Leung1)

    Tried all the resolutions, even the full 2880x1800. Always the same after a while, eyes get tense and strained and it becomes hard to focus.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 15, 2012 4:14 AM (in response to iobe)

    Can you try the "swing camera test" to see if the screen is flickering?

     

    Here're the steps to do that:

    1. make a thin white vertical line on a completely black background on your screen
    2. set your camera's shutter speed to 1/25 seconds
    3. in a dark room, take a picture of your screen. But note that you have to swing your camera horizontally while the photo is being taken.

     

    If you get a fat vertical line in your photo, then the backlight is probably constant light.

     

    If you get many vertical lines in your photo, then the backlight is flickering. The flickering speed in terms of Hz is the number of lines you see in your photo times 25 (since the photo was taken at 1/25 seconds).

    i.e. if you see 10 vertical lines in your photo, then the screen is flickering at 10 x 25 = 250Hz.

     

    You may need to try a few times in order to see the results clearly.

     

     

    Doing this may give more information to the community in understanding more about the problem. Thanks!

  • CoreLinker Calculating status...
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    Oct 15, 2012 5:44 AM (in response to iobe)

    iobe, we've long established that modern Apple devices don't use PWM. We're not sure if there's flicker at the pixel or subpixel level, but the backlight is constant.

     

    Also, have you put the f.lux filter to full power?

     

    Eric, you've forgot to mention an imporant step: lowering the backlight.

  • iobe Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 15, 2012 6:43 AM (in response to CoreLinker)

    Wow, yeah, no PWM on this one. I tried the "camera swing test" and indeed, I can't see any pulses.

     

    Guess I'm back to square one then.

     

    I'm trying out flux at full power right now (again).

  • EyePain20_20 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 15, 2012 9:24 AM (in response to Dovez)

    I do not have the BDP-380. I had it connected with a HDMI cable. I had all Blu Rays connected with a HDMI cable.

     

    The Sony PS3 and the BDP-380 caused the exact type of eye issues. It was also connected with HDMI.

     

     

    The 20" was connected with D-SUB.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 15, 2012 9:38 AM (in response to iobe)

    CoreLinker, thanks for reminding! Yes, there's one more cruicial step to lower the backlight before taking the photo!

     

    iobe, thanks for doing the test! As CoreLinker has said, recent Apple devices don't seem to use PWM and looks like it's the same case for the latest Retina MacBook Pros as well. Perhaps the screen has some undetectable flickers.

    Perhaps the problem is even the combination of undetectable flickers together with too much blue in the light spectrum.

     

    Sorry that I'm not able to give any more suggestions... I too am trying to find the root cause of the issue...

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