Tech

Eye pain may actually be your TV’s fault. Here’s what you can do about it

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Your HDR TV might be the reason for your eye ache for those who’re watching it at midnight. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

Almost all trendy televisions are appropriate with high dynamic range video. Whereas that doesn’t mean they all perform the same, many HDR TVs are brighter than their older, non-HDR counterparts and improvements like mini-LED make them even brighter. Among the brightest TVs we have reviewed are additionally a few of the best TVs, together with the Samsung QN90A, the TCL 6-Series and the eye-watering Hisense U8G. Their vivid, colourful photos are a marvel to behold. Brighter would not essentially imply higher, however it will possibly make the TVs simpler to look at in a vivid room and it makes the highlights of HDR actually pop. 

Excessive-quality motion pictures and TV exhibits are finest loved in a darkish room, nonetheless, to scale back reflections and assist improve contrast. And with the lights down low, the acute brightness of many of those TVs may cause eye fatigue and in some circumstances even irritate your eyes.

There are some things you are able to do about this, however it’s not fairly as easy to repair as you may think.

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Brett Pearce/CNET

What’s HDR and why is brightness an “challenge”?

High dynamic range, or HDR, is the newest TV tech. It is obtainable on PlayStation and Xbox recreation consoles and streaming services together with Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Almost TVs and streaming devices which have 4K resolution additionally deal with HDR. Mid- and higher-end TVs supply considerably extra brightness when watching HDR content material. For instance, the solar or a streetlight will probably be noticeably brighter than the encircling scene. That is nice, because it makes a picture that basically pops in a practical method.

Nonetheless, for those who’re watching TV in a darkish room, which we extremely suggest for any high-quality video expertise, these scorching highlights could appear too vivid, inflicting your eyes to turn into sore or scratchy. For those who’ve ever stared at your cellphone in a darkish room, you’ve got most likely skilled this.

I put “challenge” in quotes for this part as a result of the very same factor can occur with non-HDR materials. Any TV that is too vivid in a darkish room may cause eyestrain. Trendy TVs are a lot brighter than older TVs that even at decrease backlight settings they’ll nonetheless be eye-searingly vivid.

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The highlights of HDR content material on HDR TVs are a lot brighter than “regular” commonplace dynamic vary TVs (Picture for illustrative functions solely. Precise HDR on an HDR TV will probably be bodily brighter).


Dolby/Geoff Morrison

Why your TV is perhaps hurting your eyes

Somebody shining a flashlight in your eyes at night time is annoying, proper? However standing in a room with the lights on is not. Your eye adjusts to the common quantity of sunshine hitting your retina. A darkish room with a vivid TV continues to be, on common, darkish. So your iris is huge open. However the components of your retina getting hit by the sunshine from the TV are overwhelmed. They get fatigued, inflicting the drained, scratchy feeling. 

Basically, the best way to forestall that is decreasing the common quantity of sunshine hitting your retina. You are able to do this by turning down the general mild output of the TV, or, counterintuitively, growing the sunshine within the room.

Easy methods to watch TV with out the painful eye pressure 

1. Get a much bigger TV, or sit nearer.

Need an excuse to get a much bigger TV? This is one. 

A small, vivid object in a darkish room confuses your eye. The “common” quantity of sunshine is low, your irises open up, and the brilliant “pinpoint” of sunshine strains a part of your retinas. A bigger TV, or sitting nearer to your present TV, will fill a better share of your area of view. With extra of your eye stuffed with mild, your irises will contract, so much less mild total is hitting your retinas. Usually this may imply much less eye fatigue. 

Personally I am a fan of projectors, which create even greater photos and are not as vivid as TVs. Means simpler on the eyes.

2. Flip down the TV’s mild output.

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Adjusting the backlight can assist, although not all the time.


Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Although the apparent resolution, this is not essentially essentially the most perfect. Many TVs robotically set their backlights to most to indicate HDR content material. Turning the backlight down (or turning down OLED Gentle on an OLED TV), can influence how the TV shows HDR content material. It is doable the picture may look odd. How odd is difficult to say — it’s going to rely on the TV. 

This is not the identical because the Distinction or Brightness controls. These controls usually don’t have anything to do with how vivid a TV is. 

Learn extra: Want better TV? Change these 9 TV picture settings today (you’ll thank us later)

Most HDR-capable TVs may have a number of HDR presets. These is perhaps apparent within the image settings menu, and they may not be. These might be labeled, for instance, Dolby Imaginative and prescient Vivid and Dolby Imaginative and prescient Reference, or HDR Vivid and HDR Regular. In these circumstances, Vivid could be designed for brighter rooms, whereas Reference/Regular is healthier for darkish rooms.

Your TV may not have these modes, or the decrease setting may nonetheless be too vivid. If that’s the case, there are different fixes.

3. Add a strategically positioned lamp.

Turning a light-weight on is an alternative choice, however after all, this can create reflections (or worse, be a distraction in your eyeline). Once more, it’s possible you’ll not care about both of those two drawbacks, however I am hoping that will help you discover essentially the most excellent resolution in your setup.

Preferrred lamp placement is someplace not in your eyeline to the TV, and never someplace it causes a mirrored image. This might need to be someplace out of the odd, like behind a settee.

Dimmable recessed ceiling lights may work too, however after all, it relies upon in the event that they trigger reflections on the TV. A TV mount you may transfer or pivot may assist with reflections, too.

The purpose is, including extra mild to the room raises the “common” quantity of sunshine within the room, making your irises shut a bit, letting much less mild in, and doubtlessly inflicting much less eye fatigue.

4. Add a bias mild.

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A bias mild, like this laptop computer proven above, is a neutral-white mild that brightens up the room slightly. 


Taylor Martin/CNET

One step additional than a lamp is a bias mild. These neutral-white lights add a bit of sunshine to the room, they do not negatively influence the picture on the TV, they usually reduce eye strain.

The colour is necessary as a result of no matter coloration the lights are, that coloration is “subtracted” by your mind from the colour you see on display screen. So when you’ve got a blue mild behind the TV, the TV will look crimson. The best coloration for bias lights is a impartial white; as near the D6500 color temperature standard as doable.

Backside line

This isn’t a new issue. TVs have lengthy been far brighter than obligatory for the common room. HDR does doubtlessly make the issue worse, since they’re, on the entire, a lot brighter than older, “SDR” TVs. For those who expertise eyestrain with HDR or different materials, hopefully our fixes can assist.

Observe (9/2021): This text was first revealed in 2017 however has been up to date with new hyperlinks and data.


In addition to masking TV and different show tech, Geoff does picture excursions of cool museums and locations around the world, together with nuclear submarinesmassive aircraft carriersmedieval castlesairplane graveyards and extra. 

You may comply with his exploits on Instagram and his journey video sequence on YouTube. He additionally wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines, together with a sequel



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