Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

usmaak

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 13, 2012
915
716
I received my 13" M4 the day after release and it is causing me a lot of eye strain issues. I can't use it for very long before my eyes start to burn and even when they don't actually have a burning feel, they feel tired. And when I take off my reading glasses, everything looks blurry for a while.

I have noticed that it is more of an issue on white screens than one black. I have dark mode turned on but unfortunately not every website and app supports dark mode. I have my old M2 (still haven't sent it for trade in) and when I look at the screen, I can feel my eyes start to relax. As soon as I look at the M4, they get annoyed again. I can stare at the M2 all night

I have tried everything I can think of. I have True Tone turned on. I generally keep brightness at 20% on electronic devices but I did raise the brightness up to 50%. It was way too bright and I had to turn it back down to 25% after about ten minutes. I used it last night for a couple of hours and even this morning, my eyes don't feel right, though I might be imagining that.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I was thinking of just keeping the M2 and returning the M4 or maybe just getting a new MBA 13" to have something portable. I want to give it a chance to grow on me but I don't know if my eyes can handle it. Even white print on a black background is blazingly bright to me.

I really like the M4 and the screen is nice. I want to be able to keep it but my eyes don't seem to want me to.
 
  • Sad
Reactions: iLuddite

Sheepish-Lord

macrumors 68020
Oct 13, 2021
2,351
4,798
Sounds like PWM from the OLED. The steps you took actually make it worse.

To test for PWM:

- Set your brightness to 100%
- Turn on ‘Reduce White Point’ with any percentage.
- Use light mode

If this reduces your fatigue then great but that means it’s probably PWM. These new OLED panels have a slower frequency than say an iPhone OLED, and even the new iPhones have questionable frequencies.
 

usmaak

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 13, 2012
915
716
Sounds like PWM from the OLED. The steps you took actually make it worse.

To test for PWM:

- Set your brightness to 100%
- Turn on ‘Reduce White Point’ with any percentage.
- Use light mode

If this reduces your fatigue then great but that means it’s probably PWM. These new OLED panels have a slower frequency than say an iPhone OLED, and even the new iPhones have questionable frequencies.
There is absolutely no way I can use it at 100% brightness. 50% brightness was like staring into the sun. 25% is as high as I can go and that's pushing it.

It's interesting. I've been using OLED phones for years and haven't had a single problem. I always read the thread about PWM and iPhones out of interest but was never affected.

I went back and forth about whether to get the M4 because my M2 does everything I need. I went for it because the OLED screens are supposed to be so much nicer. And there is a lot to like about them. But they feel so harsh when looking at them. It's hard to describe. It's like my eyes are working extra to be able to look at the screen.

I'll probably give it a few more days and if it is still a problem, I'll bring it back and stick with the M2. I thought about going the M3 MBA route until I realized it doesn't have promotion.
 

Saturn007

macrumors 68000
Jul 18, 2010
1,514
1,401
Lord and Klasma make good points.

PWM and dithering are big issues for many people.

The point about 100% was as a test for PWM, not to use it that way.

One critical thing to help… are you following the 20-20-20 rule?

Many optometrists highly recommend it. Every 20 minutes, take a break, stare at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. It helps many with eye strain. Staring at a computer screen non-stop for extended periods is bad on the eyes — even if you don't feel there's a problem.

I'd recommend combining the 20-20-20 break with a separate 1-3 minute walk about, just to get your eyes focusing on different things, get the blood flowing, change your posture, etc. That's better for your overall health, too, than remaining seated for long periods.

I've found both things to help immensely — they not only reduce fatigue, eye tiredness, strain, numb feeling in the head or around the eyes, etc., but make one feel refreshed and more alert!
 
  • Love
Reactions: asdex and usmaak

cmbarclay

macrumors 6502
Nov 9, 2009
492
402
There is absolutely no way I can use it at 100% brightness. 50% brightness was like staring into the sun. 25% is as high as I can go and that's pushing it.

It's interesting. I've been using OLED phones for years and haven't had a single problem. I always read the thread about PWM and iPhones out of interest but was never affected.

I went back and forth about whether to get the M4 because my M2 does everything I need. I went for it because the OLED screens are supposed to be so much nicer. And there is a lot to like about them. But they feel so harsh when looking at them. It's hard to describe. It's like my eyes are working extra to be able to look at the screen.

I'll probably give it a few more days and if it is still a problem, I'll bring it back and stick with the M2. I thought about going the M3 MBA route until I realized it doesn't have promotion.
I think you mentioned you wear reading glasses so do I and I discovered because the OLED is so clear my prescription wasn’t strong enough causing me eye fatigue. I bumped my prescription up .25 and fatigue is gone. I did know I needed a stronger prescription from my last Optometrist visit but had forgotten about it until I got the new iPad. 😆
 

usmaak

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 13, 2012
915
716
I think you mentioned you wear reading glasses so do I and I discovered because the OLED is so clear my prescription wasn’t strong enough causing me eye fatigue. I bumped my prescription up .25 and fatigue is gone. I did know I needed a stronger prescription from my last Optometrist visit but had forgotten about it until I got the new iPad. 😆
Interesting. My glasses have progressive lenses in them. Maybe I need a straight reading prescription. I can try those glasses they sell at places like Walgreens or order some off of Amazon.
 

cmbarclay

macrumors 6502
Nov 9, 2009
492
402
Interesting. My glasses have progressive lenses in them. Maybe I need a straight reading prescription. I can try those glasses they sell at places like Walgreens or order some off of Amazon.
I wear progressive daily except when using my Desktop and iPad with those I use reading glasses with large frames. I buy Foster Grants Readers (Costco sells too). Hope this helps.
 
  • Like
Reactions: usmaak

Jackbequickly

macrumors 68030
Aug 6, 2022
2,717
2,778
my eyes do not suffer from any of these problems and I live my 13” iPad. I was kinda hoping that the OLED screen would help many who suffered from eye fatigue.
 
  • Like
Reactions: usmaak

NikkiAngel

macrumors regular
Apr 18, 2015
100
50
Buffalo, NY
I think you mentioned you wear reading glasses so do I and I discovered because the OLED is so clear my prescription wasn’t strong enough causing me eye fatigue. I bumped my prescription up .25 and fatigue is gone. I did know I needed a stronger prescription from my last Optometrist visit but had forgotten about it until I got the new iPad. 😆
This is interesting. I have to use regular reading glasses when I use my iMac, but I never considered that when using my iPad.
 

rkuo

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2010
1,286
896
I received my 13" M4 the day after release and it is causing me a lot of eye strain issues. I can't use it for very long before my eyes start to burn and even when they don't actually have a burning feel, they feel tired. And when I take off my reading glasses, everything looks blurry for a while.

I have noticed that it is more of an issue on white screens than one black. I have dark mode turned on but unfortunately not every website and app supports dark mode. I have my old M2 (still haven't sent it for trade in) and when I look at the screen, I can feel my eyes start to relax. As soon as I look at the M4, they get annoyed again. I can stare at the M2 all night

I have tried everything I can think of. I have True Tone turned on. I generally keep brightness at 20% on electronic devices but I did raise the brightness up to 50%. It was way too bright and I had to turn it back down to 25% after about ten minutes. I used it last night for a couple of hours and even this morning, my eyes don't feel right, though I might be imagining that.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I was thinking of just keeping the M2 and returning the M4 or maybe just getting a new MBA 13" to have something portable. I want to give it a chance to grow on me but I don't know if my eyes can handle it. Even white print on a black background is blazingly bright to me.

I really like the M4 and the screen is nice. I want to be able to keep it but my eyes don't seem to want me to.
Are you perhaps using the iPad in low light or darkness? Eyestrain can occur if your eyes are constantly adjusting between a dark ambient environment and the bright screen of a display.
 

mpetrides

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2007
531
480
Interesting. My glasses have progressive lenses in them. Maybe I need a straight reading prescription. I can try those glasses they sell at places like Walgreens or order some off of Amazon.
Have you tried just taking off your glasses? For the last 20 years, I have taken my glasses (also with progressive lenses) off when I use a computer or tablet. Especially when using a monitor, I find I'm constantly craning my neck, trying to look through the correct part of the lens.

Depending on what your refractive error for near vision (reading) is, you might find this works fine without needing any sort of reading glasses. It works for me when reading on the computer, on a laptop (better with my glasses, since I am looking down, presumably using the correct part of the lens) and even when reading on my iPads.
 

Sheepish-Lord

macrumors 68020
Oct 13, 2021
2,351
4,798
There is absolutely no way I can use it at 100% brightness. 50% brightness was like staring into the sun. 25% is as high as I can go and that's pushing it.
It just to test it and once you turn on ‘reduce white point’ it dramatically reduces things you won’t believe.

The idea behind 100% brightness is that it causes the panel to flicker at the highest possible frequency. The higher the frequency the less chance for PWM.

Fun fact: reduce white point disables HDR
 
Last edited:

usmaak

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 13, 2012
915
716
My wife is having extreme eye fatigue with her new 11" Pro OLED. She plans to return it.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be returning mine. I’m very disappointed. I got some readers with the right prescription. They are blue blocking. I adjusted the white point setting and toyed with the brightness. No matter what I do, I can only get about fifteen minutes out of it before my eyeballs start to feel really weird. It’s eye fatigue plain and simple. It’s a big letdown but it’s not worth torturing myself over. I still have my M2 and looking at it is so neutral feeling when compared to looking at this M4.

I’m hoping the next iteration will make it easier to look at. Unless there’s something I’m missing, this one just isn’t going to work. 😔
 

IJBrekke

macrumors 6502a
Oct 24, 2009
659
768
Long Beach, CA
These are the exact symptoms I experienced with the 120 hz screens on the M1-M3 MacBook Pros. It kind of feels like you’re staring into a flashlight, right? Harshness, with a bit of tension and maybe even a slight feeling of disorientation?

As best I (and others) can tell, this is linked to the M-based processors in the MacBook lines. Older Intel-based machines do not have the problem. I also experienced variations of the symptoms on newer MacBook Airs, with their older screen technology.

I tried a lot of suggested fixes, nothing helped. I did return all MacBooks over time.
 

Sheepish-Lord

macrumors 68020
Oct 13, 2021
2,351
4,798
These are the exact symptoms I experienced with the 120 hz screens on the M1-M3 MacBook Pros. It kind of feels like you’re staring into a flashlight, right? Harshness, with a bit of tension and maybe even a slight feeling of disorientation?

As best I (and others) can tell, this is linked to the M-based processors in the MacBook lines. Older Intel-based machines do not have the problem. I also experienced variations of the symptoms on newer MacBook Airs, with their older screen technology.

I tried a lot of suggested fixes, nothing helped. I did return all MacBooks over time.
It has absolutely nothing to do with the processor. Sounds like you might have some underlying conditions as the MacBook Airs have NO PWM and the 120hz MacBook Pros have a really high frequency so while it’s possible, you would have to be extremely sensitive.
 

usmaak

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 13, 2012
915
716
I have been using it at 50% brightness with Reduce White Point set to 40% and the device in light mode instead of dark mode. It is still making my eyes tired but it isn’t as bad. 🧐

I was just looking at a 13 inch M3 MBA to replace this and I realized that my eyes didn’t feel like they were going to pop out of my head.
 

Sheepish-Lord

macrumors 68020
Oct 13, 2021
2,351
4,798
I have been using it at 50% brightness with Reduce White Point set to 40% and the device in light mode instead of dark mode. It is still making my eyes tired but it isn’t as bad. 🧐

I was just looking at a 13 inch M3 MBA to replace this and I realized that my eyes didn’t feel like they were going to pop out of my head.
great laptop, I have one and its a tad lighter than a 13’+MKB combo.
 
  • Like
Reactions: usmaak

WillingWonderer

macrumors newbie
Oct 21, 2023
2
1
One question. Would the nano glass help with this?
Completely anecdotal, but I’ve experienced significantly less eye strain with my nano iPad as compared to my oled iPhone. I honestly never noticed how taxing it was for me to constantly have to focus past reflections on a display before, but the difference in fatigue has been significant. I expect I’ll be picking up a matte screen protector for my iPhone shortly.

Keep in mind I’ve never been sensitive to pwm though, so your results may vary!
 
  • Like
Reactions: usmaak

newton4000

macrumors regular
Apr 24, 2015
155
211
I have to say that I’ve never has less eye strain than with these M4s. So it’s highly individual.
 

Ryand123

macrumors regular
Nov 12, 2013
191
167
I had the same exact issues. Also have the M2. Same experience--my eyes immediately relax when looking at the M2. And I don't think it's PWN form OLED. If it was, my iPhone, XPS 15, and LG C2 would probably bother me. I think it's something in the manufacturing process of these displays--which they JUST rolled out. Or the fact that Apple stuck with 264 ppi even though OLED is known to have a graininess issue unless you compensate with higher ppi. I had to return mine. Will wait for Gen 2 I guess. Beta testing ain't easy
 

usmaak

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 13, 2012
915
716
I have to say that I’ve never has less eye strain than with these M4s. So it’s highly individual.
Eye strain on any OLED device has always been highly individual. I’ve had OLED screens for as long as they’ve been on phones and it’s never once bothered me. This is the first time I’ve had an issue. There have been people complaining about it since OLED began.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.