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Check this out. I think this guy may be on to something. I changed my 2009 LED Macbook Pro to the full brightness rather than a few nobs down, and I've noticed a significant difference! The strain almost stopped instantly. Worth a try.
----- Got this from a response to this CNET article (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13554_3-9748301-33.html) -----
There is one relatively serious con of LED backlit displays that seems to not get too much mention in the media. About a month ago I bought a new MacBook Pro to replace my standard white MacBook. One feature of the MacBook Pro that I was unaware of was the introduction of the LED backlit display to replace the CCFL backlight.
Once I started using my new laptop for long periods of time, I noticed severe eye strain and minor symptoms almost similar to motion sickness. After 20 or 30 minutes of use, I felt like I had been looking at the screen all day. Much longer and I would get headaches. If I used the old white MacBook (with its CCFL display), I had no eye troubles at all. Moreover, I could detect a distinct flicker on the MacBook Pro display when I moved my eyes across it - especially over high contract areas of the screen. White text on a black background was virtually impossible for me to read without feeling sick to my stomach because of all the flickering from moving my eyes over the text.
The strangest thing about all of this was that nobody else I showed the screen to could see these flickers I was seeing. I began to question my sanity until I did a little research. Discovering that the MacBook Pro introduced a new LED backlit display started to shed some light (so to speak) on what might be going on. I had long known that I could see LED flicker in things like car taillights and christmas lights that most of my friends could not see. I also knew that I could easily see the "rainbow effect" in DLP televisions that many other people don't see.
My research into LED technology turned up the fact that it is a bit of a technological challenge to dim an LED. Varying the voltage generally doesn't work as they are essentially designed to be either on or off with a fixed brightness. To work around this limitation, designers use a technique called pulse width modulation to mimic the appearance of lower intensity light coming out of the LED. I don't claim to fully understand the concept, but it essentially seems to involve very briefly turning off the LED several times over a given time span. The dimmer the LED needs to appear, the more time it spends in the off state.
Because this all happens so very quickly, the human brain does not interpret the flickers as flickers, rather as simply dimmer light. For most people that is. Some people (myself included) are much more sensitive to these flickers. From what I can tell, the concept is called the "flicker fusion threshold" and is the frequency at which sometime that is actually flickering is interpreted by the human brain as being continuously lit. While the vast majority of people have a threshold that doesn't allow them to see the flicker in dimmed LEDs, some people have a higher threshold that causes them to see the flickering in things like LED car tail lights and, unfortunately, LED backlit displays - leading to this terrible eye strain.
The solution? I now keep my screen turned up to full brightness to eliminate the need for the flicker-inducing pulse width modulation. The screen is very bright, but there are no more flickers and I love my MacBook Pro too much to exchange it for a plain MacBook with CCFL backlighting (which will also supposedly be switching to LED backlighting in 2009 anyway.) Sitting in a brightly-lit room tends to help alleviate how blinding the full brightness of the screen can be. In a dimly-lit room I guess I just wear sunglasses. Either way, the extreme brightness is worlds better than the sickening flicker I saw with a lower brightness setting
I would caution anybody considering buying a product with an LED backlit display to pay careful attention to make sure you don't have this same sensitivity. Turn the screen brightness down, find a high contract area of the screen, and quickly move your eyes back and forth over the screen. If you can detect the flicker, you may end up with this same problem.
I have no idea what percentage of the population has this sensitivity. I imagine we will hear more about it as more and more displays start using this technology. Hopefully the designers will come up with a way to eliminate this flicker some of us can see.
Add me to the list of people suffering from eye strain due to the LED macbook pro. I purchased a new 15" MBP with the hi-res matte screen and immediately began to experience burning eyes and headaches. Unfortunately it took me longer than 14 days to realize that it's the new LED screen that's causing the problem so returning it probably isn't an option. Looks like I'm going back to my old pre-unibody MBP.
I'm pretty bummed out too - I just received my 15" MBP, also with Hi-Res Anti-Glare screen and my eyes are really uncomfortable.
First, I thought the problem was just the hi-res screen (the text is REALLY small at default setting, causing strain). Of course if you enlarge the text/screen (fairly easy using keyboard command apple +), some screen elements don't scale-up and are blurry. So between having either small text or blurry graphics/text I figured it the hi-res screen was to blame.
But now that I realize it, the backlighting is really uncomfortable too... either too bright or too dim.
What a mess - I was really excited to make the jump to Mac and this impressive hardware, but who would've thought the screen would be such an issue? I was planning to use an external monitor quite a bit at home, but still the stand-alone laptop should be comfortable enough to work on.
I sort of doubt I'll be keeping this laptop. Again what a waste.
I just purchased a brand new i7 core 2.66ghz macbook pro with the hi res anti glare screen. I LOVE my iMac 2.16ghz with a 20 inch screen but I figured it is time for a laptop. I did the research for this computer on my grandmothers led backlight macbook and noticed that my eye's were strained. I chalked it up to the "glossy" screen and therefore I specifically purchased this laptop with the anti glare matte screen to avoid eye problems. Well, in the first 10 minutes of using this beautiful computer I noticed my eyes burning. I have 20/20 vision with no history of eye problems so I figure I just need to change the resolution. Well, I dropped the resolution to 1440x852 and still my eyes are burning. I go back to my iMac and no problems. Then I came across this thread and it all makes sense. I am still within the 14 day return window and I CANNOT believe that if I want a mac laptop anytime soon I will have to go on ebay and purchase nearly a 3 year old CCFL macbook pro.
Apple, you seriously disappointed me on this one.
PS. I also tried keeping the brightness all the way up which alleviates the problem slightly but I still have massive eye strain the the screen is WAY too bright.
Message was edited by: gab3rz
I, too, am suffering from headaches due to eye strain since I got my 27" iMac two days ago. This problem occurred for a couple of weeks when I my 24" iMac was new, but slowly went away, as my eyes adjusted. The iMac 27" headaches are intense near my temples, so I just keep taking breaks from the screen. I'm still experimenting with screen brightness. I get headaches like this from florescent lighting and from the new-fangled tubes that are so efficient, so I know I am sensitive to light. But I'm wondering if the light source on the 27" is different from the 24" iMac; if so, is there a solution to my problem?
Russ, Thank you for your post. I just returned my 27" iMac after 3 days of trying to get through the LED headaches. I was confused because I have a 24" iMac that doesn't cause these intense headaches, although it caused mild headaches for the first few weeks of use. I learned that the 24" monitor uses CCFL while all new iMacs use the LED. I have known for 30 years that I get headaches from the florescent lights that are used in most commercial buildings, so if you are sensitive to florescent bulbs, you may also be sensitive to LED backlit screens. I'm bummed, because I love my iMac 24". I'm hoping that if enough people have this problem, Apple with revert to the CCFL technology, or find something even better without the flicker problem.
I have had my new imac i5 27 inch for nearly 2 weeks now and the head aches are pushing my eyes of of their sockets and I have and have always had perfect 20/20 vision.
I get headaches after just 20 mins of use.
I have until tomorrow to decide if to return the machine but some people say your eyes adjust.
It's my fist apple machine and I love the OS, keyboard, mouse, software shame I can't look at the screen.....what to do???????
I spent a few days with the new 27" iMac and my eyes just did not adjust. They would tear and I'd feel them become strained immediately. I went back to my 30" ACD. The iMac is a great machine, but just not for me. There is no way I'll buy one of these backlit LED displays or iMacs. Unfortunately, this means somewhere down the road I'll have to look elsewhere.
I see why Apple uses these displays. They look brilliant and I'm sure it helps sell machines. It just wasn't for me.
I switched from MBP15 to the 17" one about 3 weeks ago...
since i started using i started getting eyes strain, my eyes feels tired and they burn...
I am thinking it might be the glossy finish but am not sure....
anyone tried changing to Matte and got any better?
it is disappointing as i use my laptop for long hours...
am not sure,... go matte.. or it won't make a difference...
Hi folks. I am having the same problems and have a few questions. I just purchased a 21" iMAC and after a couple weeks of trying to adjust, it has left me with severely strained eyes. It feels like my distance vision has been impacted a bit, but the headaches and soreness are horrible. Oddly enough, I have a 15"mbp that I have had for a few months without much problem, but that is used solely at home int he evenings and much more casually than my work computer. Unfortunately, I spent the past month trying to adapt and am out of the return window
Onto the questions -
1. When do the headaches and blurriness actually go away? Is there anything that can be done to make the symptoms go away.
2. I read about the films people tried, but never saw a follow-up. Do the films work? Does anything work?
3. Are there any reasonable sites that I could attempt to sell my imac? Since I am into day 32/33 I cannot return, but I simply cannot keep working on it either....sometimes I guess it is best to cut my losses.....
Thanks for the help,
Hi. It's a little weird since I'm not a mac user (although my parents used to own one about 15 years ago) but I did want to change to mac this year and I've noticed that both macbook and MBP has been changed to LED backlighting. I think there were people with doubts about whether the LED is causing all the eye problems and headaches. From the symptoms I've heard and from what I've experienced, it's definately the LED.
The fact that all the computers were now LED disappointed me greatly. I made a very bad choice 2 years ago on buying a Sony VAIO with LED lighting. I had no idea at the time what I was getting into. I mean, if you look at it with a bunch of LCD lightings it stands out considerably with all the bright, rich colors that made all the other laptops frown. But I didn't know that it was going make my eyes suffer so much. It's been 2 years but it's taken me more than 1.5 years to "get used to" it although still strains and hurts my eyes and I have to say I HATE that laptop. I prefer using a different computer with LCD. My parents have a different laptop that is LCD and it has never been a pain in the *** like LED.
Anyways, I'm sad to say I couldn't switch to mac... and I hope they don't keep adding more LED screens on their other products and go back to LCD.
Message was edited by: EngBreakfast