I found the same issue. I recently bought a 13 inch Air (the new ones) and returned it the next day because of how much the screen irritated me. I bought a 13 inch pro yesterday and returned it the day after for the same reason.
Looks like I won't be using Apple products anymore. My eyes just can't handle it. I've also concluded that it is because of the LED backlights.
Yes, I know that there isn't an easy answer to what I should do.
I might have to settle for an older laptop that is easily upgradeable. I might have to learn how to swap out screens on newer ones.
Either way, there is no possible way I will ever use an LED screen in their current form.
However, one thing I do have to note is that I also have a late 2009 21.5 iMac, and the screen on there doesn't bother me that much at all. I'm pretty sure that one is also LED backlit, so i'm not sure what gives. Maybe the refresh rate is better? If so then that opens up some doors for me. I have some research to do.
I agree -- I think it's the LED backlights that makes these screens unusable for a minority, but not all LED backlit screens have the problem. Seems like all current Macbooks are affected, but the iPhone 4 screen is LED backlit isn't it, and I don't have any problem using that for long hours. It has a very different appearance from a Macbook screen, quite apart from the resolution. However, I use an iPad 2 on and off and that does have the same feel as the Macbook screens. And try Googling "iPad 2 eyestrain"...
i suffer from keratoconus, an eye condition that causes severe light sensitivity. unfortunately, i was diagnosed with this condition after i purchased a MacBook Pro with a glossy screen in late 2008. i have tried everything to reduce the eye strain and nausea i experience when using my mac--including instaling multiple anti-glare screens, diming the screen light, and using an external monitor. i recently discovered that TechRestore.com can replace a glossy screen with a matte for $199. the price is a little steep but i'm willing to do it if it can allow me to continue using my mac. has anyone tried TechRestore's service?
Have you sat down in front of an MBP with a factory nonglare screen long enough to be sure it will actually treat your eyes better than the nonglare films you've tried applying on your glossy screen? Frankly, I'd be surprised if it did, and it would be a shame to void the warranty on your machine and throw away $199 on something that really didn't help. And I wonder, too, whether for $199 TechRestore is actually giving you a factory nonglare screen, or whether they're just installing something they've devised themselves or had developed for them.
I'm no fan of apply-'em-yourself nonglare films, and if I wanted a nonglare screen I'd buy one directly from Apple. I'm sure it would be better looking, especially when turned off and dark, than a user-applied film. But I don't know how different you can expect it to be from a user-applied film while the machine is operating, and if you have an extreme light sensitivity, I would think that would still be aggravated by the intrinsic brightness of the screen even if all reflections were completely eliminated.
Keratoconus, I am also skeptical that simply swtiching to an anti-glare display will improve things for you unless Tech Restore is using a different kind of display than Apple. And the fact that your external display also causes you problems is worrisome; do you happen to know if it is also an LED-backlit display? If so, that lends further credence to the LED-backlit theory. Fortunately, there are still high-quality CCFL-backlit displays available; NEC makes some excellent CCFL displays. The backlighting is specified in the technical specifications for each display.
From my experience, it isn't the "glassy" Apple displays that are the main cause of serious eyestrain for susceptible individuals, it is the type of LED-backlit displays used in the unibody portable Macs. I've come to this conclusion based on my own experience plus a lot of reading online.
In my case, I found the 11" MacBook Air display to be absolutely awful: I developed a headache after only fifteen minutes and the severe eyestrain lasted for hours after I quit using the computer. On the other hand, my 2008 15" MBP with an Apple anti-glare display causes me no problems whatsoever and it is an LED-backlit display. It does not seem as bright as my 13" MBP and the intensity of the backlight is more subdued, for lack of a better term...
Somewhere in the middle is my Early 2011 13" MBP: it causes eyestrain, just not nearly as bad as the MBA. Calibrating according to a suggestion earlier in this discussion has helped a lot. I think that I have been able to adjust somewhat, plus I make a point of not staring at the screen for any longer than necessary. (This is going to turn me into me into a touch-typist like when I first learned how to type!) Adding the Preference Pane "Shades" seems to be an important part of the equation as it allows me to easily fine-tune the display brightness that is best for my eyes depending on the ambient light level.
I added a Power Support anti-glare film and I doubt that it really helped much with the eyestrain, but it sure helps with reflections. I can use the MBP in any lighting now without glare. I compared the Power Support film to my 15" MBP and they look surprisingly similar; I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the film to someone looking for an inexpensive way to get rid of unwanted reflections.
If I were in your shoes I would do two things (assuming you haven't already done so...): contact Tech Restore and query them about the replacement display and whether anyone with your condition (or severe eyestrain) has tried a replacement screen. Heck, I would even ask if they have a "loaner" MBP that has a replacement display that you could try out. It would be worth it to me to pay shipping both ways to find a solution or avoid paying $200 for a service that won't do the trick. I would also do some searching online and see if anyone with keratoconus has found an answer to your problem.
I wish you luck and I hope that you will post again to let us know if you are successful in solving your problem.
After 18 months of using the 27 inch Imac my eyesight has deteriorated considerably, for the past 20 years I had used glasses of -0.75, during the last year it went to -1.25. Sure aging and all, but this is significant change for me, now I have to wear glasses all the time. I also experience many of the symptoms the first poster in this thread described, dizziness, head aches, blurring eyes, unable to focus after a short time at the computer. Being a visual artist this got me worried so much that I had a ct scan to check for tumors, numerous eye sights checks in the last year and a number of visits to various specialists trying to identify the cause of dizziness. However, recently I decided that it all started with the Imac and at this moment considering to getting rid of it - until I read this thread, my husband regularly turns down the brightness on my machine citing; that too much brightness will damage my eye sight, how ironic is that. Anyway I will give it a little more time, but I am afraid this Imac is the last apple product for me.
I have the same problems with current-gen Apple displays as others on this thread. My experience/ ‘solution’ is:
I first experienced severe eye irritation/strain with my glossy-screen Macbook 3,1. This irritation became significant after 15-20 mins, and got worse over time spent on the device. I got headaches by using it for periods of a few hours.
I subsequently purchased a Macbook Pro (late 2009) with a non-reflective screen, and found that I still experienced the same severe eye-strain as before. In hindsight, I should have returned both MB and MBP immediately, but I didn’t. I also had the same issues with my iphone 3G, and get them now with my iphone 4S. I’ve tried to turn the brightness to max on my devices as suggested on an earlier post, but, for me, that doesn’t seem to alleviate the problem.
I hadn’t experienced such problems on PCs before this point, so I knew that the issue was not about the common-sense stuff of taking enough breaks and working in well-lit rooms etc. Also, I have my eyes regularly tested and am satisfied that they’re ok.
Having read other posts on this thread, I concluded that my problem might be LED related, so I purchased a CCFL display,and, now that my Macbook Pro is hooked up to it, I can use it all day without any significant problems. I had previously tried a Samsung external display (LED) with my MBP, but experienced the same problems as with the laptop’s own display. This seems to confirm that, for me, LED is the problem, and CCFL is a ‘solution.’ I haven’t used other LED hardware, so I don’t know if it would all affect me as badly as the Apple (and one Samsung) products do.
Obviously, I have no CCFL solution for the iphone, so I only use it sparingly - ie I try not to look at the display for more than 5 minutes at a time if I can help it. Not ideal. Although I want one, I haven’t bought an ipad, because, having used other people’s, I get the same problems as with the other devices.
I’m very grateful to earlier contributors for their posts; it’s good to know that it’s not just me who had this problem, and good to have been able to find a partial solution that works for me re the MBP.
Although I greatly resent having spent a lot of money on premium hardware only to find I can’t use it as I’d wish, I intend stay on the Apple ‘ecosystem’, using the old CCFL monitor, because I much prefer the software. I won’t buy another LED-based laptop, display or tablet, Apple or otherwise, unless there’s some significant tech development which addresses this problem.
That said, if CCFL is phased out, and I fail to replace my current display if/when it dies, I don’t know what I’ll do. Buy a typewriter, I guess.
I did exactly the same as you did: I bought a CCFL monitor and I can now enjoy the Mac OS on a High Definition CCFL monitor without the headaches and eye strain anymore. LED is a real issue for some people and the industry should take this more seriously into account. I must add, though, that my my eyesight has deteriorated since I used the Mac screen. Is this a coincidence or is this because of the LED ? One can never know for sure as eyesight deteriorates anyway at a certain age.
Is it indiscreet to ask you how old you are ? I experience the same problem with my eyesight but I guess that is more "normal" when one is 45 to 50 years old than when one is 20.
Anyway, i understand your feeling: I can't get the idea out of my head that maybe my eyesight would have stayed OK if I hadn't bought a Mac...
I've had my 13" MB for a while, but it wasn't until recently when I completely switched over to it as my primary system (from a older 15" LCD/CCFL display). Last week I came across this thread and read just about every post in it, so over the weekend I figured I'll try something to make it work. Well it's been about a week, and my eyes are finally getting used to it. I am no longer a little nauscious after using the display for more than an hour, and no more headaches (I almost never have headaches), or right eyeball tearing up. I have never liked ultra-bright displays, so turning up the brightness wasn't an option (I tried anyway), but turning it way down obviously didn't work either. It just so happens that having brightness right smack in the middle works best for my eyes, and I do adjust it one notch up or down, depending on lighting conditions.
My advice to anybody with this issue would be to try various brightness settings and give it some time for your eyes to adjust.
I'd just like to let everyone in this discussion know that I found a sutiable solution that still involves LED monitors. I decided to buy another laptop brand (thinkpad) that has a LED display, but has a matte (anti-glare) finish.
Maybe they use different LED's, or maybe the anti-glare is the difference. Either way it is fine for my eyes.