Flicker-free monitors are specially designed to produce a single continuous light source. A typical monitor adjusts its brightness through flickering, introducing periods of low light between higher brightness. While a user may not be aware of the flicker, it can cause a number of issues, including eye strain. However, many monitors now use flicker-free technology to put less strain on monitor users’ eyes.
Learn more about how flicker-free monitors contribute to eye health below.
Look around your typical office and what do you see? Perched on every desk is a computer. Your reliance on computers in the workplace means that office workers are exposed to computer monitors every day, and many of them use the monitor for the majority of their work tasks.
Research shows that the average American worker uses a computer for up to 7 hours a day for work, recreation, or both. Most of us have never realized the degree to which we’re regularly exposed to digital displays. That exposure takes a toll on the health of your eyes, as well as your overall health, over prolonged periods.
Unfortunately, continued exposure to computer monitors can be very harmful to your eyes, causing irritation and discomfort in the short term. It may also lead to more severe issues in the long-term.
Since your screen-centric lifestyles aren’t likely to change anytime soon, it’s vital for us to take proactive preventative measures to maintain the long-term health of your eyes. This includes making modifications to your workstation, as well as practicing healthy eye techniques and strategies.
However, the path to saving your eyes from long-term damage starts with the computer monitor you choose. Choosing a flicker-free monitor – a display that maintains a steady stream of light – is one of the healthiest choices you can make to protect your eyes.
Why Are Computer Monitors So Dangerous for Your Eyes?
Before we talk about how the right computer monitor can protect your eyes, we need to first understand how digital displays can potentially degrade your vision over time.
The light emanating from a digital display is different from other kinds of light you’re regularly exposed to, like sunlight or incandescent lights you use when lighting your house.
Most computers on the market today are designed with LED backlighting, which enhances the computer screen’s clarity, brilliance, contrast, definition, and graphics. LED backlighting emits blue light waves that radiate at a brighter intensity than that of natural light or other light waves on the light spectrum. The light from a digital display is composed of what is known as HEV light (high-energy visible light). HEV light occurs in the violet/blue part of the visible spectrum.
Our eyes are not naturally equipped to protect against and filter out intense blue light, meaning that the higher energy of blue light waves can be particularly damaging to your lenses and retinas without taking the correct measures. (For example, switching from a screen to a projector.)
Consistent exposure to harmful blue light rays can cause eye fatigue, dryness, and irritation. It may also lead to digital eye strain or Computer Vision Syndrome, which encompasses a host of accompanying problems and issues, among them headaches, vertigo, and neck pain.
When selecting a computer monitor, you need to be aware of the potential for vision issues caused by blue light waves. Choosing a computer monitor designed to mitigate its harmful effects can be extremely beneficial in maintaining the long-term health of your eyes.
What Is On-Screen Flicker and How Does it Harm Your Eyes?
The harmful intensity and energy of blue waves isn’t the only thing you need to think about when selecting a computer monitor. Flicker also presents a genuine danger to the health of your eyes.
Monitors that use LED backlighting flicker through pulse-width modulation (PWM), which enables you to adjust the brightness of your screen easily. If you’re in a sunlit room, you’ll need a bright screen to help you see; when you’re working late at night, you may prefer to dim your screen accordingly.
PWM turns the backlight “on” and “off” quickly at a steady frequency, which decreases the brightness of the screen. This seems like it should be a good thing since you want to be able to fully control the brightness of your screen to adapt to fit your environment and your personal preferences.
The problem is that the computer screen flickers at a very fast rate imperceptible to the human eye as the backlight turns on and off. This flicker causes your pupils to rapidly move from larger to smaller, which in turn causes a multitude of eye issues, including eye strain and eye fatigue.
Symptoms of Eye Strain from Non-Flicker-Free Monitors
When you use a non-flicker-free monitor, you are exposing yourself to constant on-screen flickering, which—as we’ve discussed above—can jeopardize the health of your eyes over time. Studies reveal that after only 3 to 4 hours of use of a traditional computer monitor—one that’s not engineered with flicker-free technology – 90% of computer users may experience eye fatigue.
Short-term use of such a monitor may lead you to notice symptoms such as eye fatigue, irritation, eye dryness, short-sightedness, blurry vision, and headaches. Continued exposure could potentially cause irreversible damage to the retinal cells in your eyes.
The worst-case scenario? Overexposure to flickering monitors could lead to the development of age-related macular degeneration and loss of vision.
The Problem with Traditional Flicker-Free Monitors
Computer companies are beginning to address the concerns and dangers that digital displays pose to your eye health. When certain features are integrated into digital displays and computer monitors, your eyes can be successfully protected from digital eye strain.
However, implementing design changes that will have a positive impact on eye health has proven to be difficult. Many computer companies have attempted to design flicker-free monitors, but the end product fails to truly protect your eyes. In other words, not all flicker-free monitors are created equal—and some aren’t actually “flicker-free” at all.
For example, some companies have attempted to protect your eyes from on-screen flicker but have only created monitors that mask the issue or create the impression of being flicker-free.
Conventional computer monitors flicker at a fixed frequency with comparatively longer periods of time between the “on” and “off” states of the backlight. Consequently, the on-screen flicker of conventional computer monitors is very noticeable.
Some devices attempt to solve the problem of on-screen flicker by integrating PWD as well as high refresh rates. These modifications to the LED backlight actually result in an increase in the frequency of the on-screen flicker and shorten the period between the “on” and “off” states of the backlight.
Since these on-screen flickers are incredibly fast for the human eye to perceive or process, this gives a false impression that flicker has been eliminated. However, it fails to protect your eyes, as they still are forced to rapidly adjust to the “on” and “off” backlight states—only now at a faster rate.
It may seem like we’ve arrived at a catch-22. Non-flicker-free monitors have proven to harm your eyes, and traditional flicker-free monitors still, unfortunately, fail to solve this problem. So what’s the solution?
Flicker-Free Monitor Technology That Gets the Job Done
ViewSonic has used its 30 years of visual solution experience—along with a deep understanding of how traditional computer monitors harm your eyes—to develop a line of computer monitors designed to protect your eye health.
Engineered with flicker-free technology, ViewSonic’s line of monitors is created to reduce flicker and prevent eye strain, eye fatigue, and irritation as well as the development of Computer Vision Syndrome.
Each ViewSonic flicker-free monitor has integrated DC modulation LED backlights, eliminating the “on” and “off” in favor of maintaining a constant stream of light. By removing the “on” and “off” states of the backlight, flicker is completely eliminated at any brightness setting, creating a much healthier viewing experience for the user.
How To Tell If My Monitor is Actually Flicker-Free
You can easily perform a flicker-free monitor test to determine whether your current computer monitor is flicker-free by using your computer and smartphone.
Start by setting your display to peak brightness. Turn on your mobile phone camera and point it at your computer screen. Now, with your phone’s camera focused on the screen, adjust the brightness to 50% and then eventually down to 0%. As you lower the screen’s brightness, any flicker will become increasingly noticeable if it’s a non-flicker free monitor.
By conducting this test, you will be able to finally detect on-screen flickers that are usually imperceptible to the human eye. Once you see for yourself how much harmful on-screen flicker you’re exposed to on a daily basis, you’ll be inclined to purchase a more health-conscious computer monitor.
Integrated Blue Light Filters
On-screen flicker isn’t the only problem computer users face. Companies have also tried to create monitors that protect your eyes from harsh blue light waves.
ViewSonic has designed a line of computer monitors with blue light filter technology that has been engineered to address this issue. This state-of-the-art technology helps the computer monitor maintain blue light waves that are closer in intensity to realistic, everyday colors.
Blue light filter technology filters out dangerous levels of blue light while also offering a range of 100 filter levels that will easily adapt to fit your environment while maintaining stunning color and contrast.
6 Easy Healthy Eye Practices to Implement Now
In addition to choosing a low blue light, flicker-free monitor, here are 6 other easy steps you can take right now to protect and maintain the health of your eyes.
Proper Lighting at Your Workstation
Make sure your workstation is lit properly – it shouldn’t be too dim or too bright. The goal is to reduce glare and reflection so that you don’t need to strain your eyes and can maintain a healthy viewing experience
Adjust Color Temperature
When your computer screen uses a cooler color profile, more harmful blue light can emanate. To protect your eyes, adjust the temperature profile to a setting that uses more warm tones and fewer blue ones.
Ensure a comfortable viewing experience by adjusting the contrast to a higher setting to reduce eye strain. When possible, use the night mode to adapt your workstation appropriately to a darker viewing setting.
Proper Viewing Distance
Maintain a proper viewing distance at your workstation. You should not be situated too far or too close; according to the American Optometric Association, a healthy viewing distance means that your screen should be positioned 15 to 20 degrees below eye level, as well as 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes.
To remedy the constant exposure you receive to digital displays in everyday life, it’s critical that you take breaks to give your eyes time to recover, reducing the effects of eye strain. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, you should focus your eyes on a point 20 feet away from the computer screen for a total of 20 seconds.
Increase Text Size
If you find yourself leaning forward to peer at your screen or squinting to make out a word, it’s time to increase the text size on your device. Your operating system will allow you to make changes to the size of the text you see across all programs, and may even allow you to choose a preferred typeface to aid you in reading.
A Brighter, Healthier Future
Screens are everywhere today. If you work in an office, you use one to edit documents and create spreadsheets; if you work in a store or a restaurant, you use a digital point-of-sale system. When you’re off the clock, you use your devices to watch movies, text friends, and shop for clothes. Even when you’re driving, you’re looking at the GPS or passing by digital billboards.
To ensure that your eyes stay healthy, you need to stay aware of the potential dangers of continued exposure to computer monitors. The key is understanding how certain computer monitors can impact the health of your eyes, either positively or negatively.
Start by taking the flicker-free monitor test to find out what level of flicker you’re exposed to on a regular basis. If your test shows that your monitor performs poorly, or if you’re experiencing eye fatigue or other issues like headaches or neck pain, it may be time to consider a new monitor.
When selecting computer monitors for business purposes, ensure that the monitors you choose are flicker-free for optimum eye health and include integrated blue light filter technology.
The next step is to configure your workstation as needed. When setting up your monitor, be sure to take into account ergonomics recommendations with regard to viewing distance and viewing angle.
Finally, when working, make small tweaks to your work habits to help your eyes feel better. Let yourself take short breaks periodically to refocus your eyes – and maybe do a few relaxing deep breaths while you’re at it.
The science behind how computer monitors affect your eye health may be complicated. But taking control of the health of your eyes doesn’t have to be.
For more information, visit ViewSonic to learn more about our innovative visual solution technologies, how to maintain an ergonomically sound workstation, and other healthy eye practices.