Eye Strain - Monitor Options

PS mods delete my other thread, couldn't seem to edit myself


I suffer from alot of eye strain issues from computer use, this gradually worsened over the past 3 years until the point where usage was almost impossible. Earlier this year, i got some coloured lenses (i don’t have a prescription for distance etc), aswell as starting eye exercises treatment for ‘convergence insufficiency’ (my eyes converged at 12 inches, and currently do at 6.5 – apparently 6 is ideal – i’m not sure how much of an effect this has), this has helped the issue somewhat, though i can still only use a computer for around 4 hours a day, with regular breaks and the use of eye drops.

This is a big improvement over how things were but obviously not an ideal situation, so i’m trying to find out what kind of changes to my setup will help maximise the amount of time I can use one comfortably.

It has been difficult to find solid information on the subject – most websites seem to have copy and pasted general advice on distance/lighting and taking breaks – which is all good advice, but seems to not cater for more severe cases.

Looking for some older posts on this site i’ve found some good discussion which has shed a bit more light on the subject, most seemed to be from a few years back so may not be totally relevant to current technology, so i thought I’d ask myself.

My current monitor is a viewsonic 24’’ 120hz, running in its native resolution, I have the gamma turned down slightly aswell as the brightness so the image doesn’t look as obviously ‘harsh’ as some flatscreens can.

I’m considering the following options;

A good quality CRT – The image quality is better (AFAIK – this may have changed in recent times?), so may be better on the eyes – When flatscreens first came out i found them terrible on my eyes though at the time had no problems with CRTS – though the flat screens i used around them were really poor quality with bad response time/refresh/image quality etc. – and i have had problems with CRT before, so this may not be the issue. Also anytime i ran CRTs <100 refresh, i was aware of the flicker, anything at 60 was just ridiculous.

A backlit/OLED monitor (sorry if i’m mistaken with this term, these are the new wave of monitors coming out recently, similar to the backlight tvs?), i’ve seen some of the TVs and the image looks incredibly good, very fluid to watch anything on with almost no flicker (i realise LCD monitors don’t flicker in the way CRT does, but I defiantly notice something similar in how it gives they give off light), so i’d imagine they could be easy on the eye? One issue may be the vibrancy of the colours, when compared to older monitors

A projector – I know very little about the specs/peoples experience of these, though i’d imagine having to have the room dark would be a disadvantage, but being able to sit far back would be a pro?

Running through a TV – Again i have very little knowledge about what kinds of TV would be most suitable for this, i’ve seen this round a friends and the image is OK but not ideal, though it isn’t an amazing TV model and defiantly not optimized for this.

I’d appreciate any advice from anyone currently running these setups (particularly the LEDs) or with similar experiences.

Thanks alot!
9 answers Last reply
More about strain monitor options
  1. the reason why you often see generalized information is because everyone is affected differently. what might bother your eyes might not bother mine. this is why we normally list a bunch of things to look into. i'll try to cover all the bases but you have to find what suits you personally.

    Distance to monitor:
    varies per person. text, icons, etc should all be close enough or large enough that you do not have to squint/strain your eyes to see them. i normally put the monitor at the far end of this distance (about arms length away).

    type of monitor:
    CRT monitors have quite alot of flicker which of all the monitor types normally causes the most eyestrain. LCD monitor backlights do still flicker but at a rate inperceivable to all but the most sensitive eyes (really rare, but theres one person on this forum who suffers from this). in such extremely rare cases an incadescent light was put into said lcd monitors and worked for them. for most users a normal ccfl or led backlit monitor is fine. if flourescent lights bother you, maybe try led backlighting.

    Note about tvs:
    going with a bigger display (30+) might seem better for viewing text and everything better but from what i've noticed text is not easier to read and sometimes you actually have to magnify everying up a notch to see it correctly. i think this has to do with either how the pixels are arranged in a tv or the pixel pitch being different. also consider that you're getting more light output which could bother your eyes.

    about brightness:
    having a brightness too high can make you squint and cause issues but having it set too low can make it hard for you to see what is on the screen causing issues as well. staying in the medium range works best. also it is best to be working under incandescent lighting of moderate brightness and not in a dim area. if you work under flourescent lighting this might also be causing your eye strain.

    very glossy monitors can also cause issues with your eyes. i've found that matte surface monitors tend to be easier on the eyes.

    taking breaks:
    breaks are recommended every 10-15 minutes for at least 15-20 seconds. during this time you should be focusing on objects farther away (varying distances helps too) in order to relieve your eyes. also when using the monitors you should keep your eyes active and not just stare blankly at one spot. remember to blink also or your eyes dry out.


    what you need to do is figure out what is causing your eye strain.

    is it your surroundings?
    bad lighting, glare, posture

    is it your backlight?
    flickering, too bright/dim

    not taking breaks, staring at one spot, using a pc when tired, caffience

    how confortable it is to see things on the screen

    the reasons for eye strain are varied, and different people are affected by different things is different ways. you need to try out a few changes yourself to see what helps the most.
  2. Hi,

    Appreciate the reply. I think regarding the different factors you mentioned, i defiantly had some of these bad habits over the years – lack of breaks/poor lighting aswell as very heavy use. This would possibly be why my eyes started converging poorly when focusing, though I don’t know whether that was the cause of the eye strain or another symptom .

    Since this year i have done eye excercises to improve convergence, aswell as having a more ideal setup/take more frequent breaks. There is a definite improvement, although still quite a way from being normal. I guess the strain may be cumulative, so i will have to see if it improves over time. It was pretty severe late last year and any computer use was nearly impossible aswell as TV viewing being difficult.

    I wouldn’t say i notice flicker on LCD monitors, although I do find 60hz ones much more difficult to view than 120hz, the glossy ones in particular do seem hard on the eyes. My current monitor is a Viewsonic VX2268WM 22" LCD Widescreen 3D Monitor 120hz, its pretty good overall for my situation, though my work requires computer use, so anything that allow longer usage would be good.
    Are LED monitors similar to the TVs that have been around recently? Ie. The picture seems much better than plasma and LCD tvs, or are they a different technology? Looking around they seem to be priced quite cheap, considering the TVs are defiantly on the expensive side compared to others.
  3. led only refers to the backlighting used. they are still lcd panels. standard tvs/monitors use ccfl backlighting. since all monitors are edgelit as opposed to grid-arranged like some televisions... the difference is negligible.

    plasma televisions have higher contrast ratios, which is their only perk. they have enough faults that people stick with lcd instead.
  4. Thanks for the reply,

    Also, just wondering if anyone here has had similiar experiences, and whether an outright long term break from usage would be the best course of action (as opposed to my current situation of limited usage, which is ok but far from ideal)?
  5. A long term break is most ideal but probably is not practical. This is just something us computer users have to deal with as most absolutely must use them every day for work. The most we can do is to try and give our eyes relief in any ways we can.
  6. Hi. I'm very sorry to hear of your trouble. I just hope you will get to read this message.

    From what you are saying, you seem to be sensitive to backlight flicker, same as me. Now, there are other, often undefined reasons why someone would have problems looking at a certain monitor.

    I will give you some tips and links that I have found myself. I hope they will help you.

    First off, read this: http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/pulse_width_modulation.htm
    It discusses the backlight dimming method which causes the screen to flicker.

    You said you were having trouble with refresh rates on CRT monitors, that you would notice the flickering easily and still see some trace of that on LCDs. Well, the refresh rates are no longer the problem, since it's not the pixel matrix itself that flickers, but the backlight which makes the pixels visible.

    Go on, wave a finger in front of your monitor at low brightness. You will probably see a stroboscope effect, that is, seperate distinct fingers instead of a blur. That is a good way of testing for it, but the method explained in the link above is more definite.

    Now, SOME monitors do in fact use a dimming method which in not PWM. You should hunt for those monitors, and see how you like them. HardForum is a good place to ask these questions and search for flicker-free monitors.

    They are usually expensive. HP ZR2740W is one of them. There is a 27" PLS monitor from Samsung which is also apparently flicker-free. Most, if not all, of today's Apple products seem to have flicker-free displays, but some people report problems regardless.

    On the subject of that, there is a thread on Apple support forums where people who have had difficulty using Apple displays talk about their troubles. Mind you, their difficulties (at least some of them) might be different than yours and mine, and there are no definitive solutions yet presented. Start from the newer postings: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/1677617?start=315&tstart=0

    Now, as for other solutions... LCD projectors are flicker free, just so you know, so it's worth a try. DLP projectors produce a rainbow effect, which you are almost certainly sensitive to.

    If you read lots of text, digital books, PDFs etc, an eink reader like the Amazon Kindle would be a must have item for you. You can even do some light browsing. If you could transfer some of your computer usage to ereaders, that would lighten the load on your eyes considerably, since eink displays use ambient light to illuminate the display, no backlight is present. It's the same as reading printed text. Sadly, you cannot yet use eink as a monitor.

    Good luck!
  7. The symptoms show that you are suffering from - Computer Vision Syndrome. Try to wear a pair of computer Eyewear available in a good optical store.
  8. I do have serious eye strain problem and I realized it is because of the light issue.

    Therefore I started a small project : "Lightsenz" (search Google for it - I do not want to spam this thread) which is a light sensor that adjust the brightness of your desktop to the environment light.

    I do use this experimental sensor device (even right now when I'm typing) and it seems to work.

    If you think your eye strain cause is improper light level you might find LightSenz interesting.

    As this is in beta right now you might get a device for free. I will make a few devices (around 20) for me and my friends.
  9. game playing may be associated with vision problems.Extensive viewing of the computer screen can cause eye strain, as the cornea, pupil, and iris are not intended for mass viewing sessions of electronic devices. Using games for too long may also cause headaches, dizziness, and chances of vomiting from focusing on a screen. for more details.
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