This is a key discovery – that there IS an adjustment to the screen that eliminates the eye strain. I have a suggestion for the next experiments to take to better isolate the cause. You did essentially four treatments. The thing to do is to sample points in between your non-eye-strain point, and the normal eye-strain point:
1. Half Brightness -> Full Brightness
2. No Red -> Full Red
3. No Blue -> Full Blue
4. Fluorescent Lamp -> No Lamp
We already know that ten minutes of 1+2+3 causes eye strain. I would do six experiments: 1, 2, 3, and 1+2, 1+3, 2+3. If these are inconclusive, add 4. If one of these six treatments causes notably more eyestrain than the rest, we've discovered something crucial.
I had this problem as well. For me, it was a matter of turning the brightness down and just getting used to it (bumping up the time) and some ibuprofin. I spend a lot of time on Safari, now the majority of my day is spent on the internet. I get migraines, and bad headaches from eye strain. Now I have a problem with my iPod with eye strain headaches/migraines, but when i surf my MBP for prolonged periods of time, I'm fine. It's quite strange.
After trying my green monochrome MacBook Air for some time, I am pretty sure that it is easier to my eyes. It doesn't totally eliminate the eye strain, but it does seem to cause less stress compared with full color.
Like what MauiTechnoGeek2 have suggested, I have also tried making the screen a red monochrome as well as a blue monochrome. I haven't played with that two colors long enough to draw a conclusion, but the green monochrome does look noticeably better than a blue and also red monochrome. It is clearer. Perhaps that's due to our eyes having better sensitiviness to green.
One thing that haven't been well discussed is about the environmental lighting.
Personally, I believe it is indirectly related to the eye stress caused by the LED screen. Similar to Pixel Eater's experience, I have tried a Cinema Display in the Apple Store and thought it to be ok, only to find it stressful after bringing it back to office.
I think direct fluorescent light (i.e. those you could see the fluorescent tube clearly) would amplify the stress we have on LED screen. It could be even worse if the fluorescent light is the old type that flashes at a relatively low rate.
I'm pretty religious in my avoidance of fluorescent lighting. I'll buy incandescents on the black market if the hippies ever have their way (I actually doubt it, despite all the buzz). Much to my chagrin I had to do away with my dimly lit evenings. I'm a night owl, but in recent times have found keeping the lights on vital. So I would say its important. Since this is a matter of health that probably extends to everyone, not just sensitized indivudals, I see it as just one more important reason glossy screens are not ideal.
I have read some reports that some people would get used to being upside down after some time, and in some cases almost totally learn to see this way.
Hahaha, I guess if with good reasons, all the roads on earth are going to be replaced with ones that requires people to walk upside down, I'd hope to be able to walk upside down comfortably too.
Sooner or later, all CCFL displays will be replaced with LED. I honestly do hope my eyes to be able to get used to that so that I don't have to deal with all these troubles I'm currently having. Unfortunately, after trying for so long, I'm still not able to do that (yet?).
I'm so glad I found this thread. I've been having terrible headaches / migraines for several months now and I've finally confirmed that it's all down to my Macbook's screen. I really don't know what to do as I need to use the Macbook every day for work on the move so an external monitor isn't the answer. I wake up every day feeling really groggy and with a slight headache (or migraine if I'm unlucky) and it just gets worse throughout the day.
I'd be very interested to hear of any improvements when using the retina Macbooks as I would consider one if so. Anyone had a good shot at it yet?
HEre is an ODD thing....I worked on a 2012 macbook pro for the last two years. I could sit at it for 10-12 hours with NO issues. Thursday, I went and got the new macbook air. I can't even use it for 20 minutes without getting eye strain.
ANy ideas? suggestions? i thought the displays were basically the same? both are glossy.
Having headaches and my eyes hurt bad!
That's very interesting. By 2012 model, do you just mean the current model that has been out since late 2008? At any rate, your experience seems to suggest that some models (maybe even some individual computers) cause this problem a little more. I hope that at some point a solution is offered for all of us since most computer companies do seem to be moving the way of LED.
Haha whoops I already edited as I figured that you just meant an earlier model. I do know that the Airs I have used (owned by friends) have sometimes seemed particularly harsh, but my friends have always really liked them and never seemed to be affected negatively at all. I think you can return Macbooks within two weeks of the purcahse date, so if you feel more comfortable with the Pro, then you might want to consider going back to it. I'm just hoping that we can all get to the bottom of this.
The same thing happened to me with an 11" MBA. I got a headache within fifiteen minutes and severe eyestrain that lasted for over eight hours.
My 2011 13" MBP caused me some problems but I made some adjustments and gradually the problem went away. But the symptoms were not nearly as bad as with the MBA.
If you continue to have problems I suggest returning the MBA until you get things sorted out. If they want to know why you are returning the computer be sure to tell them the reason.
I have 20/20 vision and have been using different macbooks for many years without any issues. However, when I decided to upgrade my aging personal notebook earlier this year, I encountered problems very similar to what is described in this thread. Since then I spent significant amount of time and resources trying to find a macbook that would work for me. This is what I tried so far:
MacBook, 13", Mid 2009 - no issues
MacBook Pro, 13", Mid 2010 - no issues
MacBook Air, 11", Mid 2011 - eye strain, headaches, motion sickness
MacBook Air, 13", Mid 2011, panel LP133WP1-TJA1 - eye strain, headaches, motion sickness
MacBook Air, 13", Mid 2011, panel LTH133BT01A03 - headaches, motion sickness
MacBook Pro 13", Early 2011 - headaches, motion sickness
MacBook Pro, 15", Early 2011, panel LTN154BT08 - motion sickness
MacBook Pro, 15", Early 2011, panel LP154WP4-TLA1 - no issues
In other words, I couldn't use 11" MacBook Air and 13" MacBook Air with LP133WP1-TJA1 LCD panel at all. They were making me dizzy after just a couple of minutes and were causing headaches if I was insisting on using them. 13" MacBook Air with LTH133BT01A03 was a little bit better but I still couldn't use it for too long. After giving up on MacBook Air, I tried MacBook Pro 13", which was a step in the right direction, but still wasn't good enough. I currently have MacBook Pro, 15", Early 2011 with LCD panel LTN154BT08. I use it occasionally for an hour or so after which I feel motion sickness. But here is an interesting part, I also use practically identical MacBook Pro, 15", Early 2011 but with a different LCD panel - LP154WP4-TLA1. This notebook was given me by my employer and I spend 8-10 hours a day using it with no discomfort at all.