Got headache? Maybe it’s that flickering screen!

PC | Ahmad Humeid’s has a tip for a more stable image on your computer screen

If using your computer is giving you’re a headache, there’s a good chance you’re simply a victim of a flickering monitor. The problem of screen flicker is yet another proof that PC technology is simply mediocre. Technically, there is absolutely no reason for your screen to flicker. It’s just a matter of configuring your Display Control Panel correctly and the problem will be gone. Yes, it’s as simple as that.

If you’re a laptop or LCD flat screen user, you shouldn’t have this problem in the first place, although I recently saw a different kind of flicker on a 17” laptop (which in the end turned out to have a faulty screen). With the proliferation of flat screen LCDs, less people are suffering from the annoying flickering. Yet a majority of computer users still use Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors (meaning: normal monitors), which are prone to the ridiculous flicker problem.

Here’s the secret behind the flicker: similar to a TV your monitor displays images by means of an electron ray that is shot from the back of the monitor onto the inner surface of the screen. This ray ‘scans’ your entire monitor, line by line anywhere between 60 and 100 times a second. The slower the scanning is the more evident is the scanning process, hence the flickering (imagine a light being turned on and off 60 times a second). On the other hand, if the rate of scanning goes up, the flickering becomes less noticeable or disappears altogether as far as the human eye is concerned.

The funny thing is that most monitors (even those 4 and 5 years old) are capable of scanning rates (sometimes called refresh rates) of 85hz or more, which means that their images are very stable. But for some reason, the default setting on many Windows machines is 60 hz, which usually result in an annoying flicker.

Amazingly, many users don’t even notice this because they’ve gotten used to it. Once they are made aware of the difference in image stability between 60 and 80 hz (or more) they wonder how they endured this agony for all this time.

You can notice the difference more clearly when you turn your gaze away from the monitor, yet still keeping the monitor in the corner of your eye.

I have made it a habit when I use anyone’s computer to immediately go to the Display Control Panel, look under the ‘adapter’ and change the refresh rate up to at least 80 hz. This sometimes results in a slightly smaller image in the monitor. Using the monitor’s front panel button I can easily adjust the image’s width and height to fit the screen.

Your eyes don’t deserve the flicker and your head can do without the extra stress. Lean how to control you display now.

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6 Responses to “Got headache? Maybe it’s that flickering screen!”

  1. david doryon Says:

    I am only getting an headache when using the browser (Explorer). Could it be because of different colours of the html?

  2. Stan Pilofono Says:

    Thanks for the great info! Saved my eyes!

  3. riaz khatri Says:

    i have ( 9 ) years expierince in main bords laptop & l c d monitor

  4. wisdom Says:

    For some people it could cause a headache. For others I doubt it. Try taking breaks and exercising.

  5. To Own or be Owned: A Virtual Reality Check « The Social Critic’s Guide to Life, Faith, Politics & Media Says:

    [...] What this article doesn’t touch upon is disturbing in its own right: The questionable health effects, particularly on the eyes and brain, of exchanging the tangible for an imperceptibly flickering digital view screen, whose response times and refresh rates, some hypothesize, are responsible for inducing an addictive or hypnotic brain state — one that may blunt brain development in children, promote sleep and attention disorders, induce eyestrain and headaches — all while aiming electromagnetic radiation at our craniums (of which cell phones and CRT monitors are the worst offenders). [...]

  6. Rick Says:

    I’ve tried changing the refresh rate on my Dell Vista laptop and it won’t let me change it from 63 Hz!

    Sore heads all round :(

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