Good morning, I’m Italian and I’m in thirty. I have discovered this site few years ago, but only recently I have read many things inside it and I have decided to register. I worked in the IT sector, but I’m trying to change job sector. I will speak about my problems with monitors; then I will speak about my medical investigation and, at the end, I will speak about what it works for me (a bit, or totally, depending to the case). It will be a long post: in part it works as “outburst”, but there are also ideas/suggestions (I will give them and I will ask them) here and there.
1) All it has started many years go with antialiasing filter in videogames. I was a real videogamer (4-5 hours per day) and, over the time, I have discovered to be very sensitive to all graphic filters used in videogames, that, basically, they are almost all derivated forms of antialiasing (bilinear-trilinear-anisotropic filtering, blur, all the main antialiasing filters, HDR illumination, ambient occlusion ecc. ecc.) Every filter, was a “surprise” always different, because it took (and it takes) a different part of my head and/or a different part of my body (in particular muscular/articular tension/excitement and/or pain to forearms and calves). So, I'm not speaking only about red eyes and headaches (of the most various types, deep pressure in one point of the head included; and, sometimes, a strange sensation of “excitement” in the head that remember me what I have read about epilepsy), but also about body symptoms.
Fortunately, in the OS I can shut down all filters using nvidia control panel and nvidia inspector (for example antaliasing gamma and FXAA) and I am no more a videogame player (modern consoles are off-limits for me, but I don’t care). About PC games, in some games the filters can be turned-off, in some other not (they are coded to deep); moreover, sometime it’s precisely a specific graphic engine that has inside shaders or other things that I can’t sustain).
When exposed to these game filters, I have aggressive symptoms in no more than two minutes (like the ones I have described above). Another bad thing, it’s the fact that I need (I mean always, not only for graphic filters) at least 48 hours of “detoxification” (I must stay away to the source of problem) to return completely healthy.
2) At certain point, they have arrived LED screens. I have been always sensible to brightness and I have always set CCFL monitor brightness and contrast near 0 (no eye strain problem with these monitors), but with the LED monitors, they have arrived also dizziness (with the other sympthoms and in few minutes). More in general, screens brightness it has always been a real problem for me: for example, even with the small screen in my car, I’m obliged to set brightness to low (“low”, “normal” and “high” are the settings) to stay safe (of course, not big symptoms, but anyway a light version of them if I look the screen for many minutes with normal/high brightness setting).
2.1) Laptops: I have bought my first laptop for work and laptops were already all with LED backlights, but laptops screens are more small than desktop monitors, so I can work on them 4-5 hours per day “resisting” to the bad symptoms (living with headaches). Or, at least, it was true with laptops of 6-7 years ago. I have changed my laptop recently, experimenting symptoms similar or even worst that ones experimented with LED desktop (old) monitors (I will speak about this point later).
2.2) Desktop LED monitors: I was one that bought cheap monitors as teenager and in the early twenty, later I have started to study monitors characteristics and to spend more money for them. I have done some progress with them (I will speak about them later).
2.3) Color palette (I think). Also with the CCFL monitors, I was and I’m always obliged to install the drivers and color ICC profile specific of that monitor model (I mean: I do it not only because I need to see it in a more professional way, I mean that I’m obliged to do it to stay safe).
3) Eyeglasses (filters). When I was a child and a teenager, I don’t had problems with glasses lens. So I suppose that also here it’s about “technology changes” (the symptoms are almost the same that I have with monitors). Anyway, I have speak about my problems with my oculist and he had driven me to an optician that usually resolves these kind of problems. With the premise that I'm talking about one specific brand/multinational that produces lenses (so I don't know the effects on me of other lenses), I must say that it has been a great mistake: opticians they always intend just the problem with the blue light and similar minor things. The optician had gave me an eyeglasses with many filters that in theory they should have helped me, but all have gave me problems (the filter for blue lights, the filter for UV rays, astigmatic correction etc. etc.). With these eyeglasses I have had the worst “trigger” experience of my life (not in terms of pain, just as trigger: I mean I have had a real “trigger” ) : I was in front of monitor and I have felt real “low electrical charges” without pain (I don’t know how to name them in English) in my brain spaced a few seconds apart one to another; during them, my vision it became blurred, but I have never lost the control of my body. I had been wearing those glasses for about five hours and obviously I took them off and never put them back.
In the following weeks I have been obliged to remove all the filters one by one and I have discovered that also the colors (chromatic spectrum) of the basic anti-reflection filter must be made in a certain way to be safe for me. I wonder: considering that I have problems also with lens glasses and that I have read here in this site something about very light forms of etherotropia that, after years, can generate aggressive eye strain, there are other things eye-related that you suggest to investigate?
4) HDMI, DVI, Display port rendering: I don’t have the worst symptoms with them, but anyway they are all very uncomfortable for me (probably two hours it’s my limit with them) : the only safe rendering for me it’s VGA (I use it also with adapters). Anyway, I don’t have investigated in a deep way this thing (I have tried only with three not recent monitors), so I can’t know if there may monitors with HDMI/DVI/display port rendering that are safe for me. This seems to be the most rare cause about this kind problems: anyone has problems with these types of rendering like me?
5) LED TV: I can speak only about old LED TVs. Porting the backlight very near to zero (I mean the backlight command option that is present only in the TVs), porting the brightness near 30% and rising the contrast near 70%, I can use them without problems. Curiously, when the TV is a TV-monitor model, this setting it’s safe for me when I use it as TV, but not if I use it as PC monitor (the setting it’s the same).
6) Smartphones: same symptoms, but less strong. I will speak later about what it works for me.
7) Windows 10 OS and graphic cards. I have read in this site that some people have remained with windows 7 because windows 10 cause them problems. I had their same idea until few time ago and of course I can’t exclude that it’s always true or false in a “linear way”, but after my recent experience with Tier 2 Microsoft support, I have partially changed my mind. Same thing about graphic cards (maybe, but I’m not sure, with exception of Intel UHD laptop graphic cards). I will speak about this later.
8) Public and private illumination with LED. Usually I don’t have problems with it, but rarely yes. I remember two shops inside megastores (one of them had many lights with blue LED illumination that caused me immediately problems: two months later almost all blue light had been replaced with white light that were safe for me: very probably I was not the only person that had problems with those lights). I remember also a light bulb LED for my room (an old model, when LED lights have just arrived to the market) : it was unsafe for me and I have been obliged to change it. Finally, I have concern about car headlights: I ask to myself if they are safe for me as driver, because for now I have always avoided to buy/drive cars with LED headlights (when I encounter other cars with LED headlights, usually I don’t have problems; my car is low and, even if rarely, I have problems with some SUV when they are rear me pointing LED headlights directly on me; ). Public illumination seem for now safe for me.
These symptoms basically has destroyed my possibility to build a solid career in the IT sector and now they have forced me to change sector (but PC are in almost every job, during these times). This fact it has also had repercussions in the quality of my life (problems with jobs = less money). During these years, I have done the following exams:
- EEG (with also the “flash” tests) : all ok. The neurologist thought that he would then prescribe me even the EEG with the sleep deprivation, but after the result of the following exam he think it’s useless (I’m healthy for her).
- MRI scan of the brain and eyes with liquid contrast: all ok. (MRI + EEG = for medics I’m not epileptic)
- Some eyes exams: all ok. I’m myopic by many years and a bit astigmatic in one eye. They are things that I know from many years.
- Various blood exams: they have found a strong vitamin B12 deficiency. Using integrators I have raise it, but (of course) my problems have been not resolved.
Personally, I agree with users that say that what happens to our brains it’s a “weird/new” form of epilepsy that is not studied enough in a scientific way (because new technologies are too recent). And it’s also difficult to reproduce it with normal exams. I think in this way because, after all, the symptoms I have they are (sometime light, sometime strong) the ones that are described in the “advise about epilepsy” in the videogame manuals.
I think that, we should stop defining it “eye strain”, because (at least for many of us), considering the symptoms, it’s something of really more serious (about health, and about the quality of life in this era). It's something that hardware and software manufactures should take in a serious way, even if it's something that it regards less than 1% of population. Because in this era it means not only to live for several days with medium-heavy disturbances, but also to see working careers destroyed and multiple employment opportunities.
Devices and configurations that I use in this moment.
I don’t know if here in this site I’m one of the persons with the worst symptoms, but it seems to me that I’m one of the persons whose problems stem from the greatest number of sources. So, I hope what I’m going to describe maybe can help someone.
1) Desktop configuration:
First of all, I have 3 CCFL monitors that I use with VGA adapter, but I have tested that an Eizo monitor flexscan with white LED backlight it seem enough safe for me (a slight normal eye strain after some hours: it’s gold, considering that some old LED monitors can cause me dizziness in two minutes): I have bought a square monitor because the screen is more small, but I plan to test also 16:9 24inches EIZO flexscan (for now, I prefer to continue with CCFL monitors).
Like many of you I was convinced that windows 10 causes eye strain. I had an Acer desktop no windows 10 native that, after installing a newer win 10 version, had begun to create problems to me. More in general, during that period, a win 10 version yes, a win 10 version no, I had problems. One day a Tier 2 microsoft support technician has suggested to me to update the bios: we both realized that it was impossible in this machine no windows 10 native. So I have bought an HP Pavilion with windows 10 (mid 2017) : in the last two years, I have had serious problems only one time, immediately resolved thanks to the fact that in those days a BIOS update has been released. Another time, I have had light problems, but I have easily resolved them updating nvidia drivers.
What I want to say it’s that a person very sensible about these problems like me (many sources causes problems to me and symptoms are strong) can use a desktop with Windows 10 updated that ha as GPU an NVdia GTX 1050 (with drivers updated to the last version). So, I suggest to people to search if updates about BIOS are available in their PC and install them (Note: a BIOS update it’s not always categorized as “critical”, often is categorized just as “suggested”; moreover, usually is not present in windows update).
My HP desktop of course has not a VGA link, but (thanks God) many screens has it yet, also during these times (like my CCFL monitors), so I use an adapter DVI to VGA (HDMI to VGA adapter it doesn't work for me).
In past I have tried 2 models with IPS LED screens: both caused me problems and the apps to reduce brightness and change color temperature they didn't help me. Fortunately, one day I have tried a Samsung Galaxy S5: it has an AMOLED screen (a kind of OLED developed by Samsung). I set the brightness near 0, Ihave installed on it blue light filter app to adjust temperature color and night mode app (but this second one I use it rarely, only in the total dark). Now I can use the screen for more than 30 minutes consecutive without symptoms and, considering that it’s a smartphone and not a PC, very rarely I use the screen for an amount of time so long (moreover, after the 30 minutes, the symptoms are not strong).
For me, the worst argument.
First of all, my first laptop was windows 8 native and cheap and LED. So, no windows 7 environment and big headaches, I suppose due to the PWM. I have used it for years with a tolerance of 4 hours per day, for no more than 4 days per week. I had also body symptoms. Considering my problems with high screens brightness, I couldn’t set the brightness to 100% to avoid PWM (I used at 16%: I had to choose the “lesser evil”).
Recently, I have been obliged to change laptop. My first choice was Lenovo. It was perfect for my work exigencies, but after a week of “combat” with settings and external eye-care programs, I have been obliged to return it and I have chosen an HP Omen for three reasons:
- In online reviews done with real testing it’s claimed to be PWM free.
- White LED instead of RGB LED (many persons in the web say it helps against LED eye strain)
- High quality screen (laptop screens are always junk compared to desktop screen: for a person like me, it means to have many more problems to find a safe laptop monitor)
- the dedicated card it’s the only GPU (in fact, in system devices tab, there is only the NVIDIA 1060. There isn’t the Intel HD/UHD card, which is claimed to be many more worse than NVdia about eye strain)
Of course I have spent many more money, because the problem is that doesn’t’ exist a PC with a high quality screen and a middle configuration.
The result? After a week of updates and settings my HP Omen it’s better than the Lenovo, but in any case worse of my old Laptop. Basically I have spent more for a laptop that it's not safe for me (but I had to try; I had to known if a modern high quality laptop screen was safe or not for me). So this “curse”…, it seems it cannot be overcome (for me) with the most recent laptops.
That’s all. I can sound naive but…, I wonder if Bill Gates influence can help us. I have in mind to write to Bill Gates foundation: not to ask money (of course), but to ask to help us with his influence, speaking about our problems to the CEO of the main hardware and software houses. Just an idea.