Question Eye strain with all new gaming monitors - what could it be?

bluedot33

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I am in a strange situation and have ran out of ideas, perhaps someone can help.

After 10 years of my current monitor BenQ V2400W (24in, 1080p, TN, 60hz) I thought it's time to upgrade to something new. I wanted to stick with 24-25in, 1080p, but with 240hz refresh rate.
So, I got the highly rated dell AW2521HF, but within 15-20 minutes of use, I started to get eye strain. Just a dull ache in my eyes and sort of inability to focus comfortably, specifically on text.
To make sure it wasn't a bad monitor - i went and got more - all same size and same 1080p resolution. I got the ViewSonic XG2431, and while it was better, it still irritated my eyes. So maybe I have IPS pannel issue - I read that some people find them irritating with little explanation (maybe something nano IPS related).

So i went and got two TN panels - BenQ xl2540k and ASUS vg258qm (still the same 25in, 1080p, 240hz). And again though, they very slightly - but noticeably - irritate my eyes within 15-30 mins. All of these models are flicker-free and I did NOT enable backlight strobing (if supported).

Things I tried: every setting adjustment possible - brightness, contrast, using F.LUX/blue light settings, dropping refresh rate down to 60hz, loading recommended settings etc. I've spent hours playing with settings, in Windows and on the monitors themselves. I ran and re-ran the ClearType windows setup. I checked the screen coating is the same (matte) as my previous screen. I installed proper drivers and did full factory reset on my AMD software settings with each monitor test. I have also tried hooking up via both HDMI and DP, same issue. I also tried using my laptop via HDMI to rule out an issue with my PC/graphics card, same issues. These new monitors are the same size and resolution, so nothing changes in that regard.

I have never in my life had any issues with eye strain on my current BenQ monitor - or any of the TVs i've owned (1080p, 4k), or any of the many monitors I've used at work (1080p TN/VA panels, workstation class) - no matter how many hours in a day I look at them. I've got a clean bill of eye health from docs, and don't wear glasses. Going back to my old screen resolves any issues, and it's not professionally calibrated or anything.

I don't know where to go from here. Any ideas? Why only "gaming monitors" cause this for me? Is it something with RGB/color reproduction? Refresh rate?

thanks,
 

Aeacus

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My first guess would be too much (to good) contrast of newer monitors, compared to older monitor you have and TVs. Could be with sharpness too. Overly sharp images cause more eye strain than lower quality, blurred images. Now, the entire image doesn't need to be blurred but the edges of one color to another.

For example; left is smooth/blurred while right is sharp.



As of what to do, try sitting further away, to increase the image "blur" effect. Downside is that text may get too small to read but there are zoom functions for that.

Also, try switching to "Dark mode" (browser, games, windows etc) when supported. Helps in most conditions, especially during low-light conditions.
E.g i use Dark mode everywhere i can (here, in TH forums, Youtube etc) including in my phone.
 

bluedot33

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Thanks - I did play around with Contrast/sharpness settings. They were always set to the lowest value. Can all 3-4 monitors really have such crazy sharpness at minimal level?

Also I have newer (but cheap/workstation class) monitors at work, and no issues there, and I didn't even have to adjust them at all out of the box.

My eye strain was felt during day (light room) and evening (single desk lamp). I used all these monitors for at least one day to test them out.
 

Aeacus

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Can all 3-4 monitors really have such crazy sharpness at minimal level?

Also I have newer (but cheap/workstation class) monitors at work, and no issues there, and I didn't even have to adjust them at all out of the box.
My guess, and this is just me shooting in the dark, is that you've come used to older panel (with all their flaws), and now, when viewing newest tech in monitor hardware, you have trouble adjusting to new "norm".

Now, i too used old, 60 Hz, TN panel monitor for 10+ years and to me, my old monitor looked fine. Now, once i bought my current 144 Hz, VA panel monitor (MSI Optix MAG241CR), i was blown away how good the images looked. :ouch: Also contrast was so much better.
What i didn't notice, and still doesn't, much, is the difference between 60 Hz and 144 Hz. Now, i'm casual gamer and my eyes aren't trained to see differences in refresh rates. So, there's that. But overall, i'm happy with my monitor. Oh, my monitor curvature also helps looking at it and lessens the strain on my eyes.

Now, from time to time, i might get eye strain as well, but what helps, is to take my eyes off the monitor and look into far distance, to relax eyes. I suggest same for you. Oh, try to blink more often as well, since when looking at monitors, we blink less than needed (eyes get dry and will start to ache).
 

bluedot33

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I've also tried setting the RGB clamp/limit via AMD, to make sure its not color oversaturation.

I may get used to it? After how long? And I am afraid of doing damage because - let's face it, if it hurts, something is wrong.
 
Jul 26, 2022
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I had similar issue when choosing monitor when I switched to pc. I wanted ips 240hz 1080p. Was coming from xbox and 17 inch tv. I Got 32inch and instantly got headaches when I started playing. Swapped for 27 inch and still same. Bought cheap $90 20 inch to test and no problems at all...Ended up getting 24 inch ips 240hz,never had a problem since. It was just the monitor size for me. Anything over 24inches I get sick unless I'm sitting way back.

I would go smaller but couldn't find any ips 240hz G-sync monitors under 24 inch back then.

Also there are 6 different picture settings on monitor, I have to use Vivid or it doesn't look right.
 

Aeacus

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I may get used to it? After how long? And I am afraid of doing damage because - let's face it, if it hurts, something is wrong.
Well, what other options do you have?
  1. Keep using your current hardware, until it dies. Then what?
  2. Spend loads and loads of time and money, to find suitable monitor?
  3. Take the eye care advice and try getting used to newer monitor.
And that's about it.

Now, how long is completely individual and i can not say how long it takes for you to adjust.

Best example would be when you're standing in a completely dark room, pitch black, in the middle of the night, for good ~30mins, so that your eyes adjust to the dark. And then flip the ceiling light switch, to illuminate whole room at once. The sudden illumination will hurt your eyes (perhaps even quite a lot), since your eyes aren't used to that high level of brightness at that moment. But if you give it some time, your eyes adjust, pain goes away and you can open your eyes more to see normally again.

Regarding damage, there are loads of eye care methods you can do, some of which i already talked here. For others, this here is a good read,
link: https://www.eizoglobal.com/library/basics/10_ways_to_address_eye_fatigue/

And several others as well, which all, essentially say the same thing;
link 2: https://www.mcdonaldeyecare.com/is-your-pc-ruining-your-vision-heres-9-tips-to-stop-eye-strain/
link 3: https://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/irritated.htm
link 4: https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/prevent-digital-eyestrain
link 5: https://www.wellandgood.com/computer-screen-hurting-eyes/

One thing that stands out, and is quite interesting, is using blue light blocking glasses. :unsure: (Point 7 under 1st link) Now, my MSI monitor has built-in feature that reduces all blue light emitting from monitor, to prevent eye strain. Those monitors that you tested, do they had the same feature? If not, excess amount of blue light could be the issue for you.
 

bluedot33

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Well, what other options do you have?
  1. Keep using your current hardware, until it dies. Then what?
  2. Spend loads and loads of time and money, to find suitable monitor?
  3. Take the eye care advice and try getting used to newer monitor.
  1. Maybe I have to resign myself to the fact that, for some reason, only business-class 60-75HZ screens work for me? Like I said, I've had MANY monitors at work over the years, and never had an issue. But again all monitors at work are just cheap mass produced dell/samsung screens.
  2. I can return all the monitors I got for my testing, so no money issue. Time... this is something I want to figure out, frustrating as it is, referring to your point 1.
  3. Sorry it doesn't feel right to me to suffer through unexpected pain, in hopes that maybe it gets better.
One thing that stands out, and is quite interesting, is using blue light blocking glasses. :unsure: (Point 7 under 1st link) Now, my MSI monitor has built-in feature that reduces all blue light emitting from monitor, to prevent eye strain. Those monitors that you tested, do they had the same feature? If not, excess amount of blue light could be the issue for you.
All of the monitors had it, and I tried it. And as mentioned, i also used FLUX and the Night mode in windows.


My next plan - I am going to get a cheaper but still gaming grade 25in 144hz screen to see if that makes any difference. I will also try geting a larger 27inch, 1440p screen to experience it.
 

Aeacus

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My next plan - I am going to get a cheaper but still gaming grade 25in 144hz screen to see if that makes any difference. I will also try geting a larger 27inch, 1440p screen to experience it.
Good tip: visit a (PC) store where they have several monitors lined up as show pieces and working too (showing image). Look at those and see which ones causes issues for you and which ones won't. Get the one that doesn't produce issues for your eyes. <- This would be the fastest option to find a suitable monitor.
 

bluedot33

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^ Yes agreed. however post-COVID, most stores have removed or gutted sections such as these. And if they have them, its a bunch of cheap monitors that aren't even on.
 

Karadjgne

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Desk lamp? What bulb is in it? Some bulbs, especially florescent and to a certain extent even LED can run 60Hz flickers, which while not consciously visible, are subconsciously detected by eyes and if in conflict with the monitor refresh can cause eye strain as your eyes are constantly trying to adjust/recognise both simultaneously.

Many ppl have issues with harmonics. 240Hz is a harmonic of 60Hz. Tv's run at 24Hz mostly for movies, 30Hz or 60Hz for shows, some newer Tv's might run upto 120/240Hz refresh, but the content is still 24-60Hz, so often times don't cause eyestrain.

Try capping your refresh at 144Hz or 150Hz, not the full 240Hz refresh. Those are 72/75Hz harmonics which is different to standard electrical 60Hz frequency.
 

bluedot33

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^ the issues occur throughout the day, regardless of desk lamp

i did try capping it at 60hz in Windows, but still wasn't great

the best i can describe it, the screen looks cloudy and I have trouble focusing my vision, like I have to try extra hard. I am startng to think maybe its the modern matte coatings on all high-end screens? The ones at work have just basic coatings, as does my old screen.
 

Karadjgne

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That's a possibility. The matte is setup as anti-glare, but that does 'cloud' the visuals to some extent. The original 'glassy' screens are more vivid, cleaner details but any somewhat direct lighting or even strong lighting and the picture is shot. Like watching TV and the sun shines through the window.

To combat that matte discrepancy, many switch to 1440p, which has @ 1.8 as many pixels, so lines are cleaner, pictures sharper etc.

Might be worth heading down to a TV or pc store and checking out the different resolutions with different visuals and see which type of screen, which resolution, which frequency etc physically looks the best to your eyes.
 

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