Do not let your HDR TV provide you with eye ache anymore. Strive these methods as a substitute

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

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

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Almost all fashionable televisions are appropriate with excessive dynamic vary video. Whereas that does not imply all of them carry out the identical, 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 few of the finest TVs, together with the Samsung QN90A, the TCL 6-Collection and the eye-watering Hisense U8G. Their brilliant, 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 brilliant room, and it makes the highlights of HDR actually pop. 

Excessive-quality motion pictures and TV reveals are finest loved in a darkish room, nonetheless, to cut back reflections and assist improve distinction. And with the lights down low, the intense brightness of many of those TVs may 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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What’s HDR and why is brightness an “subject”?

Excessive dynamic vary, or HDR, is the most recent TV tech. It is obtainable on PlayStation and Xbox recreation consoles and streaming providers together with Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Almost TVs and streaming gadgets which have 4K decision 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 can be noticeably brighter than the encircling scene. That is nice, because it makes a picture that basically pops in a sensible means.

Nevertheless, should you’re watching TV in a darkish room, which we extremely advocate for any high-quality video expertise, these scorching highlights could appear too brilliant, inflicting your eyes to grow to be sore or scratchy. Should you’ve ever stared at your telephone in a darkish room, you have most likely skilled this.

I put “subject” 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 may cause eyestrain. Fashionable TVs are a lot brighter than older TVs that even at decrease backlight settings they’ll nonetheless be eye-searingly brilliant.


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 can be bodily brighter).

Dolby/Geoff Morrison

Why your TV is likely to 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 brilliant TV continues to be, on common, darkish. So your iris is huge 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. 

On the whole, the way in which to stop that is lowering 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.

The way 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, 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 better proportion of your area of view. With extra of your eye full of mild, your irises will contract, so much less mild 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. Means simpler on the eyes.

2. Flip down the TV’s mild output.


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

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Although the plain answer, this is not essentially essentially the most splendid. Many TVs robotically set their backlights to most to indicate HDR content material. Turning the backlight down (or turning down OLED Mild on an OLED TV), can affect how the TV shows HDR content material. It is attainable the picture would possibly look odd. How odd is difficult to say — it should rely on 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: Need higher TV? Change these 9 TV image settings at the moment (you may thank us later)

Most HDR-capable TVs can have a number of HDR presets. These is likely to be apparent within the image settings menu, and they won’t be. These might be labeled, for instance, Dolby Imaginative and prescient Vibrant and Dolby Imaginative and prescient Reference, or HDR Vibrant and HDR Regular. In these instances, Vibrant 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 would possibly 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 may 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 excellent answer to 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 would possibly 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 would possibly 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 probably 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 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 affect the picture on the TV, and so they scale back eye pressure.

The colour is vital 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 pink. The appropriate colour for bias lights is a impartial white; as near the D6500 colour temperature commonplace as attainable.

Backside line

This is not a brand new subject. TVs have lengthy been far brighter than obligatory for the common room. HDR does probably make the issue worse, since they’re, on the entire, a lot brighter than older, “SDR” TVs. Should you expertise eyestrain with HDR or different materials, hopefully our fixes can assist.

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

In addition to protecting TV and different show tech, Geoff does picture excursions of cool museums and places all over the world, together with nuclear submarineslarge plane carriersmedieval castlesairplane graveyards and extra. 

You may 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

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