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Advice for System Configuration to Minimize Eyestrain

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September 11, 2011 3:34:40 PM

Hello,

I've been getting horrible headaches and eyestrain from computers for the last 3 years. It all started when I bought a MacBook Pro. It gave me extreme headaches, so I exchanged it for an Imac (24 inch aluminum), which was better, but within 3 months of using it I needed glasses and then the headaches really kicked in. Now almost every screen I look at (including TVs) gives me headache. Oddly, the ancient computer with a CRT monitor that I had in my office at school was heaven for my eyes. Sadly, it died and every attempt I have made to mimick it (finding the same CRT on craigslist), hasn't resulted in the same relief. This has me convinced that the monitor and the system components are part of the issue (I've tried everything from adjusting brightness and contrast, anti glare films, computer glasses, different lighting and ergonomic set-ups, etc). I now have a dell U2311H 23" Monitor which is the best LCD I have tried in years. I use 5+ year old windows machine more than my Imac (even external displays connected to my Mac give me headaches), but I need to replace it and I am hoping to do so with a custom built system. I am seeking advice on system configurations for visual comfort. Cost does not matter to me at this point -- I just want to able to work without a major headache. My main activities include word processing (us MS office), browsing, reading pdfs, and using text-to-speech software (so high quality audio input is important). I intend to use my dell monitor and my blue yeti microphone with this new computer, but that is about all I am keeping. I would also like the option for a dual display (with at least one being a DVI connection). Any advice? Thank you!!
September 11, 2011 3:47:28 PM

Do you watch tv? Do you get the same problem when you do ? Maybe you are too close to the screen you could try sitting back from the monitor a bit and making the font the next size up but keep the resolution high so its not fuzzy.
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September 11, 2011 4:05:52 PM

Thanks - I have been doing that. It helps with my dell but not with my mac. I have the same problems with the TV (even old ones that never bothered me before) and movie screens. Virtually everything visually demanding strains my eyes now and my eye doctors do not understand it. I have accumulated several different prescriptions (slight variations and with and without prisms) for different distances from the computer. My prescription is very small (-0.25). Even with glasses and the dell monitor, computer work is unpleasant and a major drag on my productivity. I had underlying vision issues (astigmatism and convergence insufficiency) that were asymptomatic (I guess my eyes and/or brain compensated for them) until I was 28 and bought the Mac. I think the mac blew whatever adaptive capacity I had. Still, I stumble across the occasional monitor that is noticeably better, which gives me hope. I had virtually no headaches or strain on the old computer and CRT that I used to have in my office.
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September 11, 2011 4:06:19 PM

Nicomo11,

I used to have the same problem for years, but now it's gone. I switched to a plasma TV 42" and hung it on the wall about 4-5 feet away from me. For me, it was the 600hz that made things better for me. I'll explain.

Some people have a rare condition in the eyes that makes them overly sensitive to refresh rates. And for me being a system administrator and a gamer, meant that I was infront of a monitor/screen 18+ hours a day.

However i'm not saying that a TV is your only solution, it's just what worked for me. But here's what I know causes eyestrain.

1. Reading small text on a large screen. (Try zooming in on anything you are reading, word, excel, or any webpage)

2. Screen brightness. (Turn down your screen brightness, a large screen with max brightness is like looking at the sun all day.)

3. Move your screen another foot or 2 away.

4. Refresh rate sensitivity. If you do all of the above and you still get headaches, go see an eye doctor.

5. lastly, try out some gunnar glasses. They are 80-100 dollars. They magnify everything by 2% and make everything yellowish in color. They are designed to reduce eyestrain because of the 2% magnification. (Personally, just zooming in on the screen helped me the most.)

I hope that one or all of these solutions work for you. Just a note.

I only purchased a 600hz plasma because I tried all the above and with each thing i tried, my headaches and eyestrain got better or took longer to develop, but never fully went away. I researched people with refreshrate sensitivity and got a 600hz plasma. It took my eyestrain away within seconds. The only downside is that text is a bit fuzzy if you don't fullscreen/zoom in on what your reading.

Good luck my friend!
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September 11, 2011 4:18:44 PM

Thanks! I will look into the plasma TV. I have a pair of gunnar glasses. I am in canada though so I had to order them via one of my eye doctors, who faxed in my prescription (which is only needed for distance), so the makers dropped the magnification and gave me a distance correction in them. I find the glasses painful but I think that's because of the prescription. I am debating re-ordering them, but the first pair cost me close to $400. I've tried the magnification in other glasses though and find that keeping my monitor further away keeps it out of the optimal range for magnification. Do you use the gunnars with the plasma? I am thinking I would need my distance prescription for the plasma.
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September 11, 2011 4:39:15 PM

No i don't use my glasses with my plasma. I bought them when i was trying to troubleshoot my own headache and eyestrain problem. i would try one thing, and would help, but not fix it. Then try another solution and again, better but not gone. And by better i meant that i could stay in front of my screen much longer before experiencing any problems.

You said that you have a dell 23' right now right? Keep it around 2-3 feet away from you, turn down the screen brightness to say... 70% or 60%. Also consider zooming in to things on webpages. With windows it's CTRL + the mousewheel. Doing just those 2 things should give you some relief if nothing else.

If your eyes need glasses for distance, then they do you no good for objects closeup like your computer screen. Take them off.

You can do the above suggestions in just a few minutes. Give them a try and let me know how much better or worse your eyestrain is. I'll be hanging around on the forums for another hour or so. (then i have to party)
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September 11, 2011 5:02:06 PM

Thanks. I have been doing all those things for months now (3 ft away, brightness ranging from 10-40%, and I increase the font size and zoom in). All of these help, but just as you said, none have taken it away - they just reduce it. I am ready to go to out immediately and buy a plasma to give it a try. I was just looking online though and notice that I can get a 42 inch at 600hz in 720p or 1080p. I am not sure which one to go with. What model did you go with?
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September 11, 2011 10:25:11 PM

Sorry for the delayed response, i went out to eat with the family.

I used to work at panasonic so i'm panasonic biased. lol

I own an TC-P42ST30. it does 3d even though i don't use it for that. The reason I picked this model is the moving lines of resolution. Basically, what resolution it will display when fast moving pictures/objects are on the screen. And i wanted true 1080p. All or models that are 42' are 900 or less. Don't get a 720p anything. it will make text just awful.

Just do this, but it from a store that has a great return policy. I don't want you going and spending lots of money and have it not work for you. Buy it, try it for 24 hours. If all is good, keep it. If not, return it and go see an eye doctor. As i mentioned before you might have something deeper going on.

Lastly, just note on the third or forth line of the specs, (moving lines of resolution) That's the sole reason I paid $700+ dollars for a 42' tv and not $300. Quality.

Check this link for specs. http://www2.panasonic.com/consumer-electronics/shop/VIE...
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September 17, 2011 2:04:03 AM

Thank you! I bought a 720p but ended up returning it and ordering the one you have (the salesman let me hook up the floor model to a laptop - what a difference! - and then gave me a wicked deal on it).
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September 24, 2011 2:31:18 PM

Hi Wickedsnow,

So I picked up the st30 last night. I am curious what settings you use. When I check the display settings it shows up as a digital TV at 60 hz (60 hz is the max I can set it at). It is running at a 1920 X 1080 res. I have it connected via hdmi to a new computer, but I threw xp sp2 on the computer for now until I buy the windows 7 upgrade. Right now it looks quite bright and I see flickering. Also, did you experience any problems getting the wireless connection to work?

Thanks and sorry for all the questions!

Nicole
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October 1, 2011 2:45:39 AM

Best answer selected by nicoma11.
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