Eye ache may very well be your TV’s fault. This is what you are able to do about it

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

Your HDR TV may very well be the reason for your eye ache when you’re watching it at nighttime. 

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Practically all fashionable televisions are appropriate with excessive dynamic vary video. Whereas that doesn’t suggest 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. Among the brightest TVs we have reviewed are additionally a few of the greatest TVs, together with the Samsung QN90A, the TCL 6-Collection and the eye-watering Hisense U8G. Their vivid, colourful photos are a surprise to behold. Brighter would not essentially imply higher, however it could possibly make the TVs simpler to look at in a vivid room, and it makes the highlights of HDR actually pop. 

Excessive-quality films and TV reveals are greatest loved in a darkish room, nonetheless, to scale 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 circumstances even irritate your eyes.

There are some things you are able to do about this, but it surely’s not fairly as easy to repair as you may think.


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

Excessive dynamic vary, or HDR, is the most recent TV tech. It is obtainable on PlayStation and Xbox sport consoles and streaming providers together with Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Practically 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 encompassing scene. That is nice, because it makes a picture that actually pops in a sensible approach.

Nonetheless, when you’re watching TV in a darkish room, which we extremely advocate for any high-quality video expertise, these scorching highlights could seem too vivid, inflicting your eyes to change into sore or scratchy. In the event you’ve ever stared at your telephone in a darkish room, you’ve got most likely skilled this.

I put “situation” 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. Fashionable TVs are a lot brighter than older TVs that even at decrease backlight settings they’ll nonetheless be eye-searingly vivid.


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 can be bodily brighter).

Dolby/Geoff Morrison

Why your TV may be 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 common quantity of sunshine hitting your retina. A darkish room with a vivid TV continues to be, on common, darkish. So your iris is huge open. However the components of your retina getting hit by the sunshine from the TV are overwhelmed. They get fatigued, inflicting the drained, scratchy feeling. 

Usually, the best way to stop that is decreasing the common 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.

The right 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 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 better proportion of your area of view. With extra of your eye full of gentle, your irises will contract, so much less gentle general is hitting your retinas. Usually it will imply much less eye fatigue. 

Personally I am a fan of projectors, which create even larger photos and are not as vivid as TVs. Manner simpler on the eyes.

2. Flip down the TV’s gentle 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 best. Many TVs routinely set their backlights to most to point out 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 is going to rely upon the TV. 

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

Learn extra: Need higher TV? Change these 9 TV image settings at this time (you may 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 won’t be. These may very well 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 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 vivid. In that case, there are different fixes.

3. Add a strategically positioned lamp.

Turning a lightweight on is an alternative choice, however after all, this will create reflections (or worse, be a distraction in your eyeline). Once more, you might not care about both of those two drawbacks, however I am hoping that can assist you discover essentially the most good answer on your setup.

Preferrred lamp placement is someplace not in your eyeline to the TV, and never someplace it causes a mirrored image. This may need to be someplace out of the unusual, 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’ll be able to transfer or pivot would possibly 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.


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

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 affect the picture on the TV, and so they cut back eye pressure.

The colour is necessary as a result of no matter coloration the lights are, that coloration 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 pink. The fitting coloration for bias lights is a impartial white; as near the D6500 coloration temperature customary as attainable.

Backside line

This is not a brand new situation. TVs have lengthy been far brighter than mandatory for the common room. HDR does probably 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 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 around the globe, together with nuclear submarineslarge plane carriersmedieval castlesairplane graveyards and extra. 

You possibly can observe his exploits on Instagram and his journey video sequence on YouTube. He additionally wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines, together with a sequel

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