If you spend most of your days — or even a few hours — looking at a screen, you could be seriously fatiguing your eyes. And that fatigue causes strain, which eventually causes eye pain, blurred vision, and headaches.
If you’re experiencing eye strain, the best solution is to spend less time looking at screens. But if that’s not an option, a new monitor can help. Here are a few of the ways that a new monitor will relieve your eye strain.
1. DC Dimming
There are two different ways that LEDs are dimmed: via pulse width modulation (PWM) or direct current (DC). In PWM, the LEDs are turned on and off very rapidly, and the more time they spend in the “off” mode, the dimmer they appear. (This principle is used in lots of Arduino projects, like this alarm system.)
This has been used in LED monitors for a long time, and it works well. Unfortunately, it can also cause imperceptible (or nearly imperceptible) flickering. And that flickering can cause eye strain. It’s especially noticeable when your monitor is at very low levels of brightness.
DC dimming takes a different approach. Instead of turning the LEDs on and off at full power, it regulates the power going into the diodes. When there’s less power flowing through, the LEDs aren’t as bright. There’s no flickering.
Many modern monitors have DC dimming (you’ll sometimes see it labelled as “PWM-free”). Why haven’t we been using it all along? In short, because it’s expensive. And it also has the potential to burn out LEDs faster. But as technology has improved, it’s gotten easier to find monitors with DC dimming.
2. Automatic Brightness Adjustment
Monitors that are too bright can cause eye strain as well. And while it’s fairly easy to adjust the brightness yourself, lots of new monitors come with automatic brightness adjustment. If you’ve used one of the backlit Kindles, you’ve used this sort of feature before.
These monitors include light sensors and always adjust the brightness to an optimum level. Some even let you customize how they work. It saves you a step and keeps your from forgetting to make the adjustment yourself!
3. Glare Reduction
If your monitor is glossy and tends to reflect a lot of light, your eyes are doing more work than they need to. Glare and reflections make it hard to focus and add to eye strain. Fortunately, it’s easy to find monitors with anti-glare coatings.
There are full-matte monitors, but these tend to look a little washed out. Semi-glossy and coated screens reduce glare without making it difficult to see details. These are perfect for offices or desks that get some sunlight or tend to reflect overhead lights.
It’s getting more difficult to find a monitor without glare reduction or anti-reflective coating, but make sure to double-check when you’re shopping around.
4. Curved Screens
Curved screens are more common in modern TVs than monitors, but they’re coming around. It can take a while to get used to a curved monitor. It feels really strange at first, and you might feel like it’s making your eyes do more work. But research shows that curved screens actually reduce eye strain.
As your eyes shift from the center to the peripheries of a flat screen, the distance between your eyes and the screen changes, requiring you to quickly refocus. And if you’re reading or doing anything else that requires your eyes move back and forth between the center and the side of your screen, that can be a lot of refocusing.
A curved screen keeps the focal distance more uniform, obviating the need for countless quick refocuses.
5. Less Blue Light
Some monitor manufacturers are taking steps to reduce eye strain by limiting the amount of blue light emitted by their screens. BenQ, for example, has some cool blue-light filtering tech in their monitors:
ASUS also has a line of eye care monitors that emit less blue light. Of course, there are other good ways to limit blue light.
F.lux is one of our favorite apps, and many of our writers use it to keep blue light from disrupting our sleep patterns. Windows 10 also has a built-in feature to do the same thing. Mac users can take advantage of a similar feature with Night Shift, while MacOS Mojave offers a dark mode for your apps which also helps reduce eye-strain . It takes a bit to get used to the very red-looking screen, but it’s been shown to make a difference and we recommend it!
6. Increased Adjustability
Older monitors, especially the really old CRTs, had almost no adjustability. But you can easily adjust the height, viewing angle, and even orientation of modern monitors. Getting a monitor at the right angle is crucial for good ergonomics.
According to ErgoBuyer, the best viewing angle is between 20 and 50 degrees below horizontal. Interestingly, looking straight ahead at your monitor is good for your neck, but places additional strain on your eyes. They point out that this angle below horizontal is similar to the angle used when people read books — so think of it that way when you’re setting up your workstation.
Is It Time to Invest in a New Monitor?
If it’s been a long time since you last upgraded your monitor, it might be time. Especially if you spend hours looking at your screen every day. Many of the features listed above might seem pretty minor. But they make a difference, especially if your old monitor only had one or two of them.
You might not even realize that your eyes were strained until you try a new monitor!
Have you bought a new monitor recently? Did it reduce your eye strain? Share your experience in the comments below!
Image Credit: ridofranz/Depositphotos