Your TV is approach too shiny, and your eyes are paying the value

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 in the dead of night. 

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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. Among 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 shiny, colourful pictures are a surprise to behold. Brighter would not essentially imply higher, however it might make the TVs simpler to observe in a shiny room, and it makes the highlights of HDR actually pop. 

Excessive-quality films and TV reveals are finest loved in a darkish room, nevertheless, to scale back reflections and assist enhance distinction. 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, 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 “challenge”?

Excessive dynamic vary, or HDR, is the most recent TV tech. It is accessible on PlayStation and Xbox sport consoles and streaming companies 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 will likely be noticeably brighter than the encircling scene. That is nice, because it makes a picture that actually pops in a sensible approach.

Nonetheless, 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 shiny, inflicting your eyes to turn out to be 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 “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 shiny in a darkish room may cause eyestrain. Fashionable TVs are a lot brighter than older TVs that even at decrease backlight settings they will nonetheless be eye-searingly shiny.


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 could 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 typical quantity of sunshine hitting your retina. A darkish room with a shiny TV continues to be, on common, darkish. So your iris is large 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. 

Generally, the best way to forestall that is lowering the typical quantity of sunshine hitting your retina. You are able to do this by turning down the general mild output of the TV, or, counterintuitively, growing 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 a great one. 

A small, shiny object in a darkish room confuses your eye. The “common” quantity of sunshine is low, your irises open up, and the intense “pinpoint” of sunshine strains a part of your retinas. A bigger TV, or sitting nearer to your present TV, will fill a higher share of your area of view. With extra of your eye stuffed with mild, your irises will contract, so much less mild total is hitting your retinas. Typically it will imply much less eye fatigue. 

Personally I am a fan of projectors, which create even larger pictures and are not as shiny as TVs. Method simpler on the eyes.

2. Flip down the TV’s mild output.


Adjusting the backlight may also help, although not at all times.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Although the plain resolution, this is not essentially probably the most perfect. Many TVs routinely set their backlights to most to point out HDR content material. Turning the backlight down (or turning down OLED Gentle on an OLED TV), can influence 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 shiny a TV is. 

Learn extra: Need higher TV? Change these 9 TV image settings at the moment (you will thank us later)

Most HDR-capable TVs could have a number of HDR presets. These could be apparent within the image settings menu, and they may not be. These might be labeled, for instance, Dolby Imaginative and prescient Shiny and Dolby Imaginative and prescient Reference, or HDR Shiny and HDR Regular. In these circumstances, Shiny 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 shiny. 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 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 probably the most excellent resolution in your setup.

Ideally suited 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 odd, 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 may 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 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 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 influence the picture on the TV, and so they cut back eye pressure.

The colour is essential as a result of no matter colour the lights are, that colour is “subtracted” by your mind from the colour you see on display screen. So in case you have a blue mild behind the TV, the TV will look crimson. The precise 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 challenge. TVs have lengthy been far brighter than mandatory for the typical 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 may also help.

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

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

You possibly can comply with 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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