Your TV is way too bright, and your eyes are paying the price


Your HDR TV might be the reason for your eye ache if you happen to’re watching it in the dead of night. 

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Almost all fashionable 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. 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 vivid, colourful photographs are a marvel to behold. Brighter does not essentially imply higher, however it could 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 greatest loved in a darkish room, nonetheless, to cut 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, nevertheless it’s not fairly as easy to repair as you may think.


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

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. 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 likely be noticeably brighter than the encircling scene. That is nice, because it makes a picture that actually pops in a sensible manner.

Nevertheless, if you happen to’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 develop into sore or scratchy. In the event you’ve ever stared at your telephone in a darkish room, you have 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 will nonetheless be eye-searingly vivid.


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 likely be bodily brighter).

Dolby/Geoff Morrison

Why your TV may be hurting your eyes

Somebody shining a flashlight in your eyes at evening 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 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. 

Basically, the way in which to stop 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, rising the sunshine within the room.

Learn how to watch TV with out the painful eye pressure 

1. Get an even bigger TV, or sit nearer.

Need an excuse to get an even bigger TV? This is an excellent 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 higher proportion of your area of view. With extra of your eye crammed with mild, your irises will contract, so much less mild general is hitting your retinas. Usually it will imply much less eye fatigue. 

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

2. Flip down the TV’s mild output.


Adjusting the backlight will help, although not at all times.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Although the apparent resolution, this is not essentially essentially the most superb. 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 attainable the picture may look odd. How odd is difficult to say — it can rely 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 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 can have a number of HDR presets. These may be 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 can 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. In that case, there are different fixes.

3. Add a strategically positioned lamp.

Turning a light-weight on is another choice, however after all, this can create reflections (or worse, be a distraction in your eyeline). Once more, you could not care about both of those two drawbacks, however I am hoping that can assist you discover essentially the most good resolution to 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 atypical, 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.


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

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 impression the picture on the TV, they usually reduce eye strain.

The colour is necessary as a result of no matter colour the lights are, that colour is “subtracted” by your mind from the colour you see on display. So in case you have a blue mild behind the TV, the TV will look crimson. The appropriate colour for bias lights is a impartial white; as near the D6500 color temperature standard as attainable.

Backside line

This isn’t a new issue. TVs have lengthy been far brighter than crucial for the common room. HDR does doubtlessly make the issue worse, since they’re, on the entire, a lot brighter than older, “SDR” TVs. In the event you expertise eyestrain with HDR or different materials, hopefully our fixes will help.

Word (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’ll be able to observe 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 | Your TV is manner too vivid, and your eyes are paying the value


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