Tech

Your HDR TV may be the real cause of your eye strain. Here’s how to fix it

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Your HDR TV could possibly be the reason for your eye ache should you’re watching it at midnight. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

Practically all fashionable televisions are suitable 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. A number of the brightest TVs we have reviewed are additionally a number of the best TVs, together with the Samsung QN90A, the TCL 6-Series and the eye-watering Hisense U8G. Their brilliant, colourful photos are a marvel to behold. Brighter does not essentially imply higher, however it might make the TVs simpler to look at in a brilliant room, and it makes the highlights of HDR actually pop. 

Excessive-quality films and TV exhibits are finest loved in a darkish room, nevertheless, to cut back reflections and assist enhance contrast. And with the lights down low, the acute brightness of many of those TVs could cause eye fatigue, and in some instances even irritate your eyes.

There are some things you are able to do about this, nevertheless 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 “concern”?

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

Nonetheless, should you’re watching TV in a darkish room, which we extremely suggest for any high-quality video expertise, these scorching highlights could seem too brilliant, inflicting your eyes to develop into sore or scratchy. If you happen to’ve ever stared at your cellphone in a darkish room, you’ve got most likely skilled this.

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

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The highlights of HDR content material on HDR TVs are a lot brighter than “regular” customary 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 typical quantity of sunshine hitting your retina. A darkish room with a brilliant TV remains to be, on common, darkish. So your iris is broad open. However the elements of your retina getting hit by the sunshine from the TV are overwhelmed. They get fatigued, inflicting the drained, scratchy feeling. 

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

Learn how 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, brilliant 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 higher proportion of your area of view. With extra of your eye stuffed with gentle, your irises will contract, so much less gentle total is hitting your retinas. Typically this may imply much less eye fatigue. 

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

2. Flip down the TV’s gentle output.

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Adjusting the backlight may also help, although not at all times.


Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Although the apparent answer, this is not essentially probably the most perfect. Many TVs routinely set their backlights to most to indicate HDR content material. Turning the backlight down (or turning down OLED Mild on an OLED TV), can impression how the TV shows HDR content material. It is potential the picture may look odd. How odd is difficult to say — it’s going to depend upon the TV. 

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

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

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

Your TV won’t have these modes, or the decrease setting may nonetheless be too brilliant. In that 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, chances are you’ll not care about both of those two drawbacks, however I am hoping that will help you discover probably the most good answer on your setup.

Superb 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 bizarre, 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 possibly can transfer or pivot may assist with reflections, too.

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

4. Add a bias gentle.

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


Taylor Martin/CNET

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

The colour is vital as a result of no matter shade the lights are, that shade is “subtracted” by your mind from the colour you see on display screen. So when you have a blue gentle behind the TV, the TV will look purple. The appropriate shade for bias lights is a impartial white; as near the D6500 color temperature standard as potential.

Backside line

This isn’t a new issue. TVs have lengthy been far brighter than crucial for the typical room. HDR does probably make the issue worse, since they’re, on the entire, a lot brighter than older, “SDR” TVs. If you happen to expertise eyestrain with HDR or different materials, hopefully our fixes may also help.

Notice (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 photograph 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 collection on YouTube. He additionally wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines, together with a sequel



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