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Eye strain - Returned my 2019 16" Macbook Pro

andrey16

macrumors newbie
Apr 11, 2020
18
11
Those are certainly the issues I experienced with the 2020 13" Macbook Pro unfortunately. Everything here does seem to suggest an issue with the Intel display driver rather than the panel itself though it could be a combination of things causing it I guess?

I'm sure I saw this text issue even on my external display (when my 2020 13" MBP was connected) and I've never noticed issues with it previously on my Windows PC or my old 2016 12" Macbook. I think there's definitely something funny going on with Intel's recent display drivers and the screens on Macbook Pro's appear to accentuate whatever the issue is for many users.

Does anyone know if the 2020 Macbook Air 13" has this issue as the 2020 Macbook Pro 13" and 2019 Macbook Pro 16" both appear to?

It's not quite correct to attribute the issue to MBP 13'' 2020 or MBP 16''. This issue might appear on any model including older MBPs or other vendors (Windows based as well). These issues might appear on one MBP 16'' and don't appear on others. With the same SW and the same Intel drivers the second MBP 16'' worked fine for me.

Nobody yet complained about 2020 Macbook Air 13". It might be this is just a matter of time and there is still a low chance of someone getting the same issue with MBP Air too
 
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CRoebuck

macrumors member
May 16, 2014
73
46
Does anyone know if the 2020 Macbook Air 13" has this issue as the 2020 Macbook Pro 13" and 2019 Macbook Pro 16" both appear to?

I tried the 2019 Air and it was better (but not perfect), the performance was a big step down for me though, too much to be an option but like I mentioned, my 2017 was great until 10.15.5 so who knows?.....

I'm currently looking for a PWM Free Windows machine where I can choose (hopefully) driver versions and disable temporal dithering and get on with work. Sad but not the end of the world.
 
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hungryghosty

macrumors regular
May 14, 2020
124
58
I tried the 2019 Air and it was better (but not perfect), the performance was a big step down for me though, too much to be an option but like I mentioned, my 2017 was great until 10.15.5 so who knows?.....

I'm currently looking for a PWM Free Windows machine where I can choose (hopefully) driver versions and disable temporal dithering and get on with work. Sad but not the end of the world.

I guess the only real answer is to go into a store and try out a couple of laptops to see how they look to my eye. Like yourself I could use the extra performance of the Pro model.

I just wondered if the different panel on the Air would make a difference? Even an 13" 2020 MBA would be a substantial jump in performance over the 2016 12" Macbook I'm currently using!
 
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macretinahurts

macrumors newbie
Apr 12, 2020
10
5
Hi guys, I had eye strain problem with my MacBook Pro 15 inch mid-2015. Since I owned it for approx 5 years. I tried all the ways to reduce eye strain. Recently, I realize change the color profile may help, the default profile is colorLCD, which is believed to be well color calibrated. However, comparing with color match RGB and Generic RGB, colorLCD is more bright, even black color is more whitened. This may be the problem, I changed my color profile to color match RGB, the screen color may loose color accuracy (or dynamic range, it may not cover sRGB as colorLCD newer models are P3, I guess it at least cover RGB :) ), however, the darken colors do save my eyes, make my eyes relief. It is different from reducing brightness. It is a trade off between eye comfort and color dynamic range. For some of you have eyestrain problem, it may worth a try. I don’t have a 16 inch MacBook Pro, I cannot test on that. You guys who own it and hand the problem may give it a shot. Good luck!
 
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matram

macrumors 6502a
Sep 18, 2011
683
313
Sweden
However, comparing with color match RGB and Generic RGB, colorLCD is more bright, even black color is more whitened. This may be the problem, I changed my color profile to color match RGB, the screen color may loose color accuracy (or dynamic range, it may not cover sRGB as colorLCD newer models are P3, I guess it at least cover RGB :) )

Let me add a few things ...

The primary mechanism to adjust "luminance" is by the brightness controls on your MBP. The color profile does not contain a brightness setting. But you create a color profile for a specific target brightness which you have to manually set (at least this is what a picky pro would do). Typical values would be 120 NITS which is way below the maximum brightness of 500 NITS. So I guess my first suggestion would be to reduce brightness before messing with color profiles.

Every color profile contains something called a gamma-setting, that introduces a non linear factor between input brightness and output. The gamma value is intended to handle non-linear characteristics of the display (e.g. LCD). The Adobe RGB color profile has a gamma value of 2.2 while the Color LCD profile has a value of 2.4. Higher gamma values would give a brighter output. "Color match RGB" is not a standard Apple profile I believe, it sound like the output from a color calibration, i.e. a tailored profile, in such a profile you can set your own gamma value.

The gamma value in these standard profiles is the same for all three color channels, so there should be no effect on color balance you are just introducing a non-linear brightness response.
 
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macretinahurts

macrumors newbie
Apr 12, 2020
10
5
Let me add a few things ...

The primary mechanism to adjust "luminance" is by the brightness controls on your MBP. The color profile does not contain a brightness setting. But you create a color profile for a specific target brightness which you have to manually set (at least this is what a picky pro would do). Typical values would be 120 NITS which is way below the maximum brightness of 500 NITS. So I guess my first suggestion would be to reduce brightness before messing with color profiles.

Every color profile contains something called a gamma-setting, that introduces a non linear factor between input brightness and output. The gamma value is intended to handle non-linear characteristics of the display (e.g. LCD). The Adobe RGB color profile has a gamma value of 2.2 while the Color LCD profile has a value of 2.4. Higher gamma values would give a brighter output. "Color match RGB" is not a standard Apple profile I believe, it sound like the output from a color calibration, i.e. a tailored profile, in such a profile you can set your own gamma value.

The gamma value in these standard profiles is the same for all three color channels, so there should be no effect on color balance you are just introducing a non-linear brightness response.

Thank you for adding up. First of all, I must confess I am not a pro like you. It is not a simple brightness problem. Eye stain and difficulty to focus cannot be relieved by reducing brightness, I don’t know why, maybe lower brightness the PWM problem emerges (However, I checked for my model there is no PWM though).Color match RGB is a standard profile originally included in Macos, changing color profile is pretty simple by click the color profile, you can switch back to colorLCD any time. I don’t think it can mess up anything. By changing color to Color match RGB or generic RGB do relieve my eyes. I don’t know what is the mechanism underneath. Since not everyone has eyestrain, it may apply to certain group of people. Just like some people are color blinded, some people cannot easily distinguish certain color, some people are more sensitive to certain color. I am not color blinded, I may be more sensitive to certain color.. color profile is like a “filter”, it may enhance or reduce certain color.
 
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kevinsweeney

macrumors newbie
Jul 13, 2020
2
0
Adding my name to the list of people who are experiencing eye strain headaches from the 2019 16" MBP, and hopefully to keep this thread alive.

Here's what I've tried:
  • Adjusted the Display scaling from Default to the middle option (1536x960)
  • Disabled Auto Brightness
  • Disabled True Tone
  • Tried Color LCD, Apple RGB, and ColorMatch RGB
For the first week after adjusting the Display Scaling I felt it made an improvement, and then I started experiencing eye strain issues again. I have an external Apple Monitor that does not cause me eye strain problems, even after prolonged use.
 
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groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Jan 13, 2006
1,248
1,063
I've had similar symptoms but it's due to glossy screens. Compared to a matte screen, I could only use a glossy screen for an hour our two before getting eye fatigue or a headache. Some people have more problems with this than others.

My theory is that your eyes/ brain compete's between the image on the screen, and what is in the reflection. In the 90s we would use anti-glare filters for this exact reason. Having them standard on computers now seems a little silly that being said.

To remedy this I use a Moshi iVisor antiglare shield. Recommended by someone else in the forums, I've put a shield on my 2019 16" MBP and iPad Pro. Not so sound like a commercial but it's really easy to put on, non-permanent, and doesn't have air bubbles. Now I don't have any problems with fatigue and quite frankly, I love the look of it. The screen looks more like paper, and is nicer to use with the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro.

Some other suggestions would be to run in dark mode 100% of the time. I find it easier on the eyes. If you're in your 30s or older, try wearing some low-powered reading glasses from Wal-Mart or a dollar store to see if that helps.
 
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macretinahurts

macrumors newbie
Apr 12, 2020
10
5
I've had similar symptoms but it's due to glossy screens. Compared to a matte screen, I could only use a glossy screen for an hour our two before getting eye fatigue or a headache.

My theory is that your eyes/ brain compete's between the image on the screen, and what is in the reflection.

To remedy this I use a Moshi iVisor antiglare shield. Recommended by someone else in the forums, I've put a shield on my 2019 16" MBP and iPad Pro. Not so sound like a commercial but it's really easy to put on, non-permanent, and doesn't have air bubbles. Now I don't have any problems with fatigue and quite frankly, I love the look of it. The screen looks more like paper, and is nicer to use with the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro.

I tried Macbook pro 13 inch 2020 (four-thunderbolt model), although it had smaller screen, I felt my eyes were more relieved on it. All the settings were default, true tone ON, default color profile. I retuned it because I gonna wait for ARM macbook. I am wondering what is the differences between the 13inch and 16inch display pannel?

Among all the Apple devices, 2020 ipad pro 12.9 inch is most friendly for my eyes. But ipados cannot get serious work done, what a pity!
 
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groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Jan 13, 2006
1,248
1,063
Try a Moshi antiglare filter, worked for me and I love it.

I also have the same problem with eye strain. And it's definitely display drivers issue since I experienced same symptoms on MPB 16 and external Dell 2414h which I use with Windows (I also tried a couple of 27" displays and none of them was comfortable either). When using Dell 2414h with Windows, everything is perfect, I can spend hours working with it without any problems with eyes. I have iPad Pro 12.8 and it's also perfect, no eye strain even when reading in darkness. Tried MBP 15 and it seems to be fine too.

When reading text on MBP 16 or trying to focus on some text elements, I have a peripheral vision feeling that text is shaking/fluttering just an inch or two from focus point. Looks like I'm not the only one who experiences this as I read about same symptoms from another person on this forum.

Actually, after spending even 5 minutes in front of MBP 16, I feel like I've been swimming in an over chlorinated swimming pool without swimming glasses.

Also ghosting adds more discomfort to overall feeling. In general I feel huge disappointment about this purchase. A 3k+ thing shouldn't work like this.

Since I've missed 2 weeks return time, I have the only way to sell it as used one and loose money.
 
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groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Jan 13, 2006
1,248
1,063
I hope you're right but I think it's just a coincidence.

There could be a few reasons why you could be more tolerable now (better sleep, different foods etc, more relaxed). Best to keep trying and and see if it comes back.

I think a lot of people's problems is with glare from the screens.

Update.

Did another order for MBP16. Interestingly, all the mentioned issues has gone with the new unit. No more eye strain. No haze effect (slightly yellowish) anymore. No flickering effect like before. No issues with focusing on text - letters look sharp again, no feeling that I'm wearing too strong glasses. On the first model I had to switch the TrueTone off and now the TrueTone brings more comfort, so I prefer the TrueTone enabled all the time. The white point is good. No need for all these gfxCardStatus/GammaControl/SwitchResX tools.

It's just first impression and need to test more days. Overall I'm glad I did a replacement not leaving my home. Thanks to Apple for this ability.

There were other comments in the thread who kept returning the unit until got a good one.
 
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Alexander William

macrumors 6502
Apr 18, 2020
288
129
I tried Macbook pro 13 inch 2020 (four-thunderbolt model), although it had smaller screen, I felt my eyes were more relieved on it. All the settings were default, true tone ON, default color profile. I retuned it because I gonna wait for ARM macbook. I am wondering what is the differences between the 13inch and 16inch display pannel?

Among all the Apple devices, 2020 ipad pro 12.9 inch is most friendly for my eyes. But ipados cannot get serious work done, what a pity!

Use an ipad via sidecare?
 
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Jugg

macrumors newbie
Aug 11, 2020
7
2
Hello everybody,
I am on the same boat and I am glad to know that I am not alone ... I've returned a macbook pro 13" 2020.

Forgive me for the long message but I've done many tests and I think the story might be useful to understand better the issue we are talking about in this thread.

I am the owner of an old MBP late 2009 13" (Yosemite as OS), which doesn't give me any eye problem. Maybe it sounds crazy but it still perfectly does its job (for most of the time, I use it for software development, writing code with BBedit) but I wanted to replace it mainly for security reasons (I can't upgrade to the latest OSs) and also to get better performances.

I was happy to see that Apple fixed the keyboard issues so I bought a MBP 2020; it looked amazing but then I realized it had two problems:

1) If I connected it to an external 1080p monitor, text looked blurry respect to what I saw with the MBP 2009 (same monitor). It was a very old monitor so I tried a brand new, expensive, eizo (still 1080p): same thing. Talked with apple support several times (apart from one guy, the support I received was terrible), changed many settings but I couldn't fix the problem.

2) After a few days, I realized that when I worked on the new MacBook (using its own display) my eyes got tired very fast.
Of course I changed the resolution (it sounds crazy to me that the default resolution is not the native one) and I tried many other settings but nothing solved the problem.
I have been using f.lux for many years on my MBP 2009 and I loved it ... on the MBP 2020 it just increased my eye strain.

At the beginning I though the main reason was the retina display (the high resolution), but I felt there was something more, related to brightness and colors.
The display for me is just too bright, too "shiny" ... it seems it has been made to impress potential customers on a store, playing a movie, more than to use it for hours, handling text (in fact, I had no problems watching a video).
You might think I could just decrease the brightness: no, it doesn't work, my feeling is that white and some other colors are just too bright and annoying for the eyes respect to other colors .. if you decrease brightness until you get the right level for white, other colors are just too dark.

So I decided to return it and to buy one of the last non-retina MBP, a mid 2012, on ebay.
The computer is perfect, it runs catalina, performances are better than my MBP 2009 and the problem with the eye is less important than the one I experienced with the MBP 2020, but it hasn't disappeared.

Not sure if it depends on the video card, the display but if you look side by side the two MBPs (2009 and 2012) you see two very different things, the 2012 is much more shiny, colors are totally different, what you see on MBP 2009 is more grayish and at a first glance you might say it's worst, but it's definitely more gentle on my eyes.

I also did another test: I booted the MBP 2012 with a superduper disk containing a clone of the MBP 2009 disk ... that difference didn't disappear.

Maybe it's important to mention that I did a:
defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool NO
on the MBP 2012 to make text rendering better, otherwise the problem was even worst.

I have always been sensitive to light, back at the end of the CRT era, even if I was in my early 20s, I used filters on the display and I couldn't stand more than a few minutes in front of a monitor having a low refresh rate or a non native resolution set.
My eyes, however, according to all the doctors who visited me, are ok, I have just a very very low astigmatism.

Other devices: I had iPhone 3gs, iPhone 5s, iPhone 8, no problems at all with any of them!
Between 5s and 8 I decided to give a chance to Android and I bought a Sony Xperia XZ1 .... terrible experience, I had to return it after a few days ( same feeling with the display I had with MBP 2020)

I have read all the thread and I am still not sure which is the factor(s) that impact more.
There is one thing I am sure about, though: if matte displays were still available, the problem would be less important. I clearly remember when I bought the 2009 macbook, matte displays were still around (only for 15" though, I needed a 13") and I compared two 15" MBPs, side by side, matte Vs. glossy ... there was no competition, the matte (from my point of view) was so much better for the eyes!

It's true that people affected by these problems are a minority, but if you start googling you will find tons of messages! So maybe we can really try to ask something to Apple (maybe through change.org?) related to this issue.

What do you think?
 
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hungryghosty

macrumors regular
May 14, 2020
124
58
For info after experiencing eye strain with my 13" 2020 MBP I returned it and bought a 2020 13" MacBook Air.

I've had NO eyestrain issues with the MBA so I suspect the issue may be something to do with the panel on the MBP?

Or maybe the quality of the display panels is a bit variable and my old Pro just happened to be a bad one?
 
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Corncab44

macrumors regular
Jun 22, 2020
196
50
I had this problem with at least two different MBP 16s I tried. It does seem like there's a bit of a screen lottery. On two other ones I tested there was no such issue. It is immediately apparent when you first try them. They actually made me feel queasy as my eyes struggled to focus on what was on the screen. I've never in my life encountered this and have used a variety of computers including MacBooks in the past.
 
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Jugg

macrumors newbie
Aug 11, 2020
7
2
For info after experiencing eye strain with my 13" 2020 MBP I returned it and bought a 2020 13" MacBook Air.
I've had NO eyestrain issues with the MBA so I suspect the issue may be something to do with the panel on the MBP?
Or maybe the quality of the display panels is a bit variable and my old Pro just happened to be a bad one?

Thanks for your reply.
I've read all the thread and I think there was another user saying the same thing about MacBook Air, I don't really know if, in general, MBA can be better.

I had this problem with at least two different MBP 16s I tried. It does seem like there's a bit of a screen lottery. On two other ones I tested there was no such issue. It is immediately apparent when you first try them. They actually made me feel queasy as my eyes struggled to focus on what was on the screen. I've never in my life encountered this and have used a variety of computers including MacBooks in the past.

Wow, I can't believe it's so random but I think other users had similar experiences so maybe you are right, or maybe this explain part of the problem.

Just want to add an additional info: I've installed Gamma Control on the MBP 2012, reduced white point with the software and increased the brightness to the maximum. This makes the white not so bright and makes the screen more similar to the MBP 2009's one (even if the latter is more grayish).
This reduced a bit the problem but the feeling that the text is not as sharp as with the MBP 2009 is still there and so the eye strain.
 
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NatsuDragneel

macrumors newbie
Aug 19, 2020
1
0
The display, for whatever reason, caused so much eyestrain for me that it really made the computer unusable as a work machine. I tried to power through the discomfort on the first night. But the next morning, I literally found myself dreading opening the lid. That's when I knew it would never work out for me.

I must be in some minority group here because I know a lot of people love their new 16". But if you're a long-time user of the older generation pros (2015 and before), it might be hard to adjust, depending on your age / vision. I'm guessing it has to do with the backlight being wide gamut (GB-R instead of WLED?), as the whole screen seemed to have an extra reddish haze over it. While it certainly gave photos a real nice pop, my eyes had the hardest time focusing on text. By the end of the first night, I was rubbing my right eye incessantly from the soreness.

Another strange issue is that I got serious headaches watching YouTube videos on this thing, like there was some serious ghosting going on. I double checked that the refresh rate was set at 60Hz, and even tried other refresh rates, but nothing helped. 60fps video was bearable, but the standard 30fps videos made me feel queasy for some reason.

Being the first Macbook that I've purchased since the 2016 redesign, I also found the lack of MagSafe and USB-a ports a straight up negative. Had no way of connecting my iPhone to the machine. Nothing new here, I read all about this before, but it really is an inconvenience for what seems to me like no real benefit in the general case.

The only thing that really impressed me about the machine were the speakers, which seem to be using some kind of DSP to provide really clear bass.

I really wanted to replace my aging 2015 15" Pro and was ecstatic when I heard the butterfly keyboard was ditched, but unfortunately it seems I have to stick with the 2015 for the next two years until Apple utilizes a different screen tech than their current wide gamut LED panels.

I changed the display profile to Generic RGB Profile from Color LCD. The colors are a bit off but my eye strain has reduced considerably. Worth giving it a shot for people with similar issues.
 
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Jugg

macrumors newbie
Aug 11, 2020
7
2
I changed the display profile to Generic RGB Profile from Color LCD. The colors are a bit off but my eye strain has reduced considerably. Worth giving it a shot for people with similar issues.

Thanks, I've tried but in my case it doesn't reduce the problem.

I needed to uncheck "show only profiles compatible with this monitor", otherwise the only profile available was Color LCD.
 
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spencermfi

macrumors newbie
Jun 24, 2010
19
18
Not yet, in holding pattern on purchases.

Update:
We now have a base 2020 Macbook Air and I am experiencing the same eye strain/headache, although less than the 16" that I returned. I tried it with my external monitor and it has the same effect - somewhat stronger than the MBA's screen itself. My wife has no problem at all with it.

If there were no other MacBooks available it would be tolerable, but it's not really faster than my late 2013 MBP 15" that causes no eye strain at all.

I'm not sure if the Air causes less strain or if drivers have changed (it's been a long time since I returned the 16). The 16 was not tolerable at the time I had it (early 2020).
 
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Jugg

macrumors newbie
Aug 11, 2020
7
2
Update:
We now have a base 2020 Macbook Air and I am experiencing the same eye strain/headache, although less than the 16" that I returned. I tried it with my external monitor and it has the same effect - somewhat stronger than the MBA's screen itself. My wife has no problem at all with it.

If there were no other MacBooks available it would be tolerable, but it's not really faster than my late 2013 MBP 15" that causes no eye strain at all.

I'm not sure if the Air causes less strain or if drivers have changed (it's been a long time since I returned the 16). The 16 was not tolerable at the time I had it (early 2020).

I guess the size of the screen also matters? Bigger size = more light on your eyes.

Which MacOS are you running on the late 2013 ? Is it retina, right?
 
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spencermfi

macrumors newbie
Jun 24, 2010
19
18
Latest Catalina on the older 15".

Not sure about the screen size. It's possible. I strongly suspect the temporal dithering theory, so it could also be that the drivers for the MBA are doing something different because the MBA's screen isn't trying to replicate as many colors (or some other difference that's inherent to the MBA).

The effect on my external monitor was also less on the MBA than when the 16 was plugged into it.

Again, not sure if the difference is due to the MacBooks or that the drivers have changed.
That said, even at the lower level of strain, it would not be worth switching to the 16 - maybe if I was doing a lot of video rendering I would suffer through it.
 
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andrey16

macrumors newbie
Apr 11, 2020
18
11
Or maybe the quality of the display panels is a bit variable and my old Pro just happened to be a bad one?
I had this problem with at least two different MBP 16s I tried. It does seem like there's a bit of a screen lottery. On two other ones I tested there was no such issue.

Confirm. Had the same issue with one 16'' MBP and no issues with another 16'' unit. Tried many solutions.

Here is a summary list of negative symptoms you might experience with such kind of panels. I experienced them all.
- Haze effect (slightly yellowish w/o TrueTone enabled comparing to normal panels),
- Noticeable flickering effect, especially when making brightness level lower,
- Feel difficulty focusing on text like wearing too strong glasses,
- Eyes strain when reading text. Eyes get relaxed after switching to normal panels of older MBP models. No eyes strain in dynamic scenes like movies or games
- Enabling TrueTone makes things worse for eyes strain.
- Enabling TrueTone adds strange reddish effect.
- Enabling Night Shift brings more eyes strain.
- Auto-brightness adds more eyes strain and difficulties focusing on text.

On normal panels the above symptoms do not appear. Enabling TrueTone makes eyes feel slightly more comfortable. True Tone doesn't add reddish effect but looks like a real white point.

What will help:
- Switching off auto-brightness, TrueTone and Night Shift.
- Switching to discrete graphics (on MBP 16'', is not an option for MBP 13''). You can make it by:
a) Settings -> Energy Saver -> Automatic graphics switching. Disabling the checkbox will use discrete graphics
b) Using gfxCardStatus utility that can switch between i/d graphics programmatically
- Keeping full brightness and working in bright lightning conditions
- Always keep full brightness level, but adjust gamma instead in dark conditions with "Gamma Control" utility to tune the brightness at software level
- resetting NVRAM & PRAM
- After two or three weeks your eyes might adapt getting all these negative effects away. Or might not.
- Using moisture eyes drops helps
- Rebooting to safe mode that theoretically disables graphic drivers (is not an option for work, just to compare the effect)
- Replacing your unit

For me the last options worked best of all.
 
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