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Eye strain from LED backlighting in MacBook Pro

433453 Views 1,985 Replies Latest reply: Apr 19, 2014 11:34 AM by Kxtr73 RSS Branched to a new discussion.
  • AxelTerizaki Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Oct 22, 2012 4:02 AM (in response to Dovez)

    I also would like to point out that there was a major difference when I tried Windows 7 on my MBP Retina before reselling it.

     

    It was a little better on my eyes, but there was still eyestrain and fatigue when using the display. I did'nt run Windows at native resolution of the screen however.

     

    Just my 2 cents.

  • EyePain20_20 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    If this hasn't already been posted, check out f.lux - http://stereopsis.com/flux/

     

    It might help with your eye strain sensitivity. Very nice, especially at night or if you like working in a dim or dark room. Or if you just like a warmer display.

     

     

     

    Very nice software, but unfortunately does not work for me.

  • jondrac Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 22, 2012 2:14 PM (in response to Dovez)

    Thanks for all the support. I made an interesting discovery yesterday. I tried using a couple of my family's PCs yesterday, and their screens hurt my eyes as well! They never used to cause me trouble - I used to have the exact same laptop that my brother has now, and it did not bother my eyes. I had pink eye a while ago, and my eyes haven't been the exact same since. The Mac was the first computer I had used since then so I assumed it was the Mac's fault, but it seems like it's probably a problem with my eyes. I'll be seeing an optometrist soon and hopefully he'll be able to provide a solution.

  • dj_rag Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Oct 24, 2012 5:48 PM (in response to jondrac)

    well good luck at the optometrist Jondrac...be sure to let us know what they say.
    I was wondering people, (whilst struggling to find an external CCFL monitor online)...I heard they are out of production now with major companies like apple but whilst looking for a CCFL montitor it got me wondering if anyone still makes/sells CCFL laptops...i mean surely someone is missing an opportunity if so many of us suffer from problems with LED backlit screens...(or are we just such a small percentage of laptp users?)

     

    I'm thinking now someone will tell me this is like asking does anyone still make VCR players or mini disc players! Are CCFL monitors on laptops just not compatible with the latest graphics technology required in today's powerful laptops? I ask this, as even today I prefer to look at the screen of my 2007 MBP than a recent glossy one. (not just because LED screens are really unpeasant for me!) i really want to stick with apple when buying a new laptop (simply so i can set it up identically to this one without having to install everything again more than anything else) but if someone still produced a decent CCFL laptop i'd bite their arm off!

     

    Looking forward to some helpful responses, cheers!

  • dj_rag Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 24, 2012 5:53 PM (in response to dj_rag)

    On another note, incase it's of any use to anyone...
    I recently spent a half hour and then an hour a few weeks later in an apple store trying the new retina display. I made sure i was reading for most of the time as watching videos/tv on LED backlit screens never gave me unpleasant symptoms, whereas reading websites for just 10-15 mins the first time i tried a 2011 glossy and matte MBP gave me migraines, eyestrain and motion sickness.

     

    Even the first half hour i spent looking at a retina i began noticing very unpleasant/irritating eye strain around my eyes. I actually find the retina display harder on my eyes than the matte screen MBP's, which i can look at for about an hour without problems but after that my eyes get quite watery/glazed. I really hoped the retina display would be the saviour of all my problems, but it's wrse than the others (for me!)

  • MauiTechnoGeek2 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Oct 27, 2012 3:18 PM (in response to iStrain)

    My own experimental experience was with a MacMini (late 2011) running Lion and two different monitors: an HP LED and a ViewSonic CCFL.  It was the eye strain with the HP LED that made me wonder what the heck was going on, and my web search led me to this thread.  So, it is possible that there are multiple sources of eye strain here, but in my case it was strictly a difference in hardware.  I've had two different models of CCFL ViewSonic monitors, both of which are completely pleasant on the eyes, and equal to my experience with my 2007 CCFL matte 17" MacBook Pro.

  • CoreLinker Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Oct 29, 2012 3:14 AM (in response to iStrain)

    iStrain, your temporal dithering theory is very interesting. Temporal dithering is fast swtching between pixels of two different colors to create a third color that cannot be naturally displayed, right? So it's kind of like flicker. Can you test this theory further? You probably already are, but still. Is there anything you can change that can help, like lowering bit color?

  • Kine Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Oct 30, 2012 1:52 PM (in response to RMartin111)

    I just wanted to chime in that I just plugged in my old 23in Cinema Display and it's amazing how much more comfortable my eyes are. I've owned the 30in Cinema which I sold because I just couldn't look at it. I also own the new 27in which gives me eyestrain as well. I'm keeping it for now as a backup but will most likely continue using the old 23in since reading on it is so much easier on my eyes. It is CCFL. If I need to use the 27 I'll probably take the glass off and view it in matte. I sure hope apple addresses these concerns in the future. It is really amazing how much better my eyes feel already...

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 1, 2012 12:34 AM (in response to RMartin111)

    Hello everyone, I think I may have found a way to "train" my eyes to use the iPhone 5.

     

    Some background info first: I got my iPhone 5 on Sep 22. While I like the phone a lot, the screen gave me serious headache, eye pains, nausea, etc. Turning down the brightness and sticking the anti-glare film helps a little. But as many of you are aware, the discomfort feeling could last more than a few days and accumulates. Eventually after about 3 weeks, I felt so sick that I didn't even want to look at the screen for 1 second to check the time. And so I decided to switched back to my old iPhone 4S. And miraculously (but expected) all my discomfort symptoms gone almost immediately!

     

    Out of the frustration that I might not be able to use the new computer devices after my 4S and current computer monitor dies out, after a week of "rest" with the 4S, I decided to give iPhone 5 screen one more try. But this time I keep the 4S as my main phone and limiting myself to look at the 5 only at night for a limited time before I go to bed. (so that I can rest immediately afterwards)

     

    Day 1 - 3:

    With the anti-glare film sticked on the screen (which helps the eye strain a little), and brightness set to a normal level, I used the phone at night for web browsing and news reading. Limiting the time to only 30min.

    I got nausea, the eyes were strained and got headache quickly. I used a lot of eye drops (artificial tears), the eyes seemed to feel better when they are moist. Basically I needed to use the eye drops almost once every 10min.

    After the 30min of using the phone, I went to bed to rest immediately and fortunately felt mostly recovered the next morning.

     

    Day 4 - 6:

    Again, I used the phone for web browsing and news reading, but allowed myself to use it for 45min - 1hour.

    Eyes were still strained and got headache quickly, but it seemed I needed less eye drops for lubrication. (about once every 15-20min)

    I also took off the anti-glare film on Day 5, my eyes felt the increased strain immediately, but was marginally able to tolerate it without too much discomfort. My eyes were also able to mostly recover the next morning after a good night of sleep.

     

    Day 7 - 9:

    I was starting to be able to look at the screen without much discomfort for the first 10-15min. After that time, the eyes would still feel uncomfortable and would have some headache, but was much less serious compared to the first days and I don't seem to have nausea anymore.

    I still kept on using the eye drops around once every 20min, I also allowed myself to use the phone for a little more than 1 hour.

    Again, I felt normal the next morning when I wake up.

     

    Day 10:

    That was last night. The eyes felt ok for the first 15min and started to feel a bit strained afterwards, but was able to go on for about 2 hours afterwards with a 15min break in between without too much discomfort!

    The eyes surely felt fairly tired and I used the eye drops twice. It felt much like watching TV continuously for the whole day, but the discomfort is nothing comparable to what I experienced at the beginnings.

     

    The progress appears to be positive so far, my eyes seem to be slowly adapting to the new technology. In fact, despite the discomfort, I think I can now tell the quality difference between the new iPhone 5 and the 4S screens. At this pace, I guess I may be able to use the iPhone 5 again as my main phone in a couple of days.

    I'm starting to see the light that I don't need to be a farmer when my current monitor goes bad I hope I'm not speaking too soon!

     

    By the way, I don't know if there are any adverse effects for what I'm doing. Try at your own risk if you want to try what I'm trying...

  • CoreLinker Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I don't know, man. I don't think anyone here has managed to 'train' their eyes to use the screens, and I'm sure they tried.

     

    I suggest you kiss the iPhone 5 goodbye. I know it's a nice device, but if ypu can't use it, don't torture yourself.

     

    If you can, take it to someone really smart and ask them what is the difference between the two. It would help us to know more.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 1, 2012 11:26 PM (in response to CoreLinker)

    I can't live without the iPhone 5!!! (joking, lol)

     

    Seriously speaking, I have already given up on the phone when I decided to go back to the 4S. And it's perfectly fine to use other devices if iPhone 5 is the only screen that gives me headaches. Unfortunately, it seems there are so many other LED devices that are having the same issues. The world is heading towards LED and in a few years time CCFL displays will be ancient items like CRT.

    OLED doesn't look too good too neither, I did the "camera swing test" on the Samsung GS3 and found it to be flickering at around 300hz. (though it seems to flicker like scan lines going from top to bottom)

     

    So, it looks like the forseeable future is full of uncomfortable displays, haha. It's really quite frustrating when thinking about this, and that's what lead me to want to be the white mouse to do the eye training test. I just guess if I discovered something, I will be happy, and it could be benificial to a lot of people. And if the test doesn't work, it's fine too, we will have another failure report being filed in here. hahaha.

     

    By the way, speaking of the difference between the screen of iPhone 4S and 5. While I'm no where really smart, the saturation and contrast ratio of the iPhone 5 seems to be much higher than the 4S to my eyes. Perhaps that also contributes to the discomfort to some extent.

  • Dovez Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I noticed that these unexplainable symptoms only happen with LED backlight. The CCFL backlight eighter caused symptoms because of PWM (explained symptoms) or it did not cause them at all when PWM was not used. Now we have LEDs with "no PWM" that cause exactly the same symptoms as PWM used to with CCFLs. I have two believes: the problem lies in the LEDs and the problem is caused by flicker. That is the problem is the flicker of LEDs. But why isn't it detectible? I don't fully know.

     

    LCD monitors used to have one or two CCFL tubes as backlight from what I heard. Whereas there are two arrangments of LEDs behind an LCD - a grid of several hundred LEDs in the back usually in TVs and for thinner units a line of a few dozen LEDs along the edges. What if this difference is a clue? What if these many LEDs can be individually controled to flicker chaotically. Is snowing detectible as flicker with flicker detection methods?

     

    I don't think it is temporal dithering, since it isn't used to create white pixels. And white pixels seem to cause most discomfort, letting through more of the backlight.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 4, 2012 6:25 AM (in response to Dovez)

    I am thinking that the different LED displays that we are testing are probably causing eye strains with different reasons.

     

    For example, when this thread was first started a few years back, the eye stain came from backlight flickering. This issue has probably already been solved by Apple.

     

    Then afterwards, it seems the sub pixel flickering and/or blue hike in light spectrum is causing the problems, with different screens having these issues with various degrees.

     

    For the my iPhone 5, it seems the problem mainly lies in the light spectrum, while the MacBook Air's problem might be due to a different reason like sub-pixel flickering.

  • Gurm42 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Honestly I think that the problem is still in flicker. I don't think it's the light spectrum, and I will say why...

     

    I have no sensitivity to LED TV's. I _do_ have sensitivity to "some" LED laptops that use PWM (as detected by the finger test). Others are fine. The one I'm using right now is a Lenovo X220 and although it has easily detectable PWM, my eyes are fine for hours on end with this unit.

     

    Other laptops - similar model Lenovos with slightly newer but supposedly identical screens - give me headaches, albeit not as quickly as say a 2011 MBP 15".

     

    I've thought about this a lot, and it is either one of two things:

     

    1. The way that OSX drives the unit - this would be subpixel rendering or temporal dithering or something. This is on my radar because when I use the SAME DISPLAY with Windows it is better. Not perfect, but better. Still kind of hard to focus on. But since it isn't perfect, I move on to option 2:

     

    2. Some kind of difficult-to-detect flicker. I have been wondering... if not with PWM, how DOES Apple dim their backlight? There is no voltage modulation on LED. They MUST be turning some of them off, and the only way for that to NOT result in weird dark spots is to rotate the LED's. I'm thinking instead of FLICKER that what we are seeing is LED pulsing.

     

    I can experience pain from these displays just having them in my peripheral vision, so it's definitely NOT the pixel rendering. That can scratch option 1. I'm going to go with option 2.

  • Eric Leung1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 4, 2012 7:39 AM (in response to Gurm42)

    Hmm... I won't deny the undetectable flicker is one of the possible reasons neither.

     

    Not sure if this piece of information is useful or not: I have tried doing the "camera swing test" with my MacBook Air again some time ago. While it is still showing a thick line like what I tried before, the thick line seems to be interlaced when I enlarged that photo on screen and checked it in detail.

    I'm not sure what causes that, I'm thinking it could be due to the dot inversion of pixels. Or it might also be the invisible flicker that is being discussed about.

    May I know if anyone can double check and see if you found interlaced lines in your "swing camera test" as well?

     

     

    Btw, on a side note, I'm reading and typing all these on the iPhone 5. I have been doing my eye "training" for about 2 weeks now. I think I'm feeling ok to use the phone *at home* for multiple hours without much issue, probably more than 80% better than I first used it.

    However, I don't feel as good when I'm doing my "training" outside my home. And I felt especially bad when I'm using the phone in office. I believe while environmental lighting is not a direct cause, it plays a crucial part in how comfortable we felt when looking at the LED screens.

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