If you use a desktop computer as much as I do, whether it’s a dedicated games machine, a work computer, or a home system, you’ll know all about eye strain. A recent study published in a leading Optometry journal revealed that up to 90% of VDU users (visual display unit) experience unpleasant symptoms.1 These can range from dry eye to headaches to blurred vision. When added to the amount of time people spend on their smartphones daily (an average of three hours in the US), the eyes take a heavy hit from our devices.
With these concerns in mind, we had a look at some of the best available monitors for reducing strained, painful, or dry eyes. The clear winner was the Asus VA32UQ for flexibility, image quality, and comfort. The same company’s TUF Gaming model also impressed us for its sleek curved screen and gamer-suitable adaptations. For students living away from home, the Asus VA249HE is a good, low-cost all-rounder.
That said, each of the choices below could be a sensible addition to your home or workplace, keeping you and your family as safe as possible.
Eye Care Tech: reduced blue light, reduced flicker Size: 21.26 x 13.78 x 8.31 inches Resolution: HD: 1920 x 1080 pixels Panel Type: IPS Inputs: HDMI
What we like: Eye care is very much to the fore with this model, Very reasonably priced, Good color reproduction
Not so much: Comparatively low refresh rate (60Hz), Limited screen adjustment, HDMI input only
One of the main features you want if eye strain is a concern is that your monitor can be adjusted to the right height and tilted so that you face it straight-on.
The BenQ can be raised or lowered, and tilted horizontally, although not vertically. A neat feature is that it can be rotated to portrait mode too – useful for creatives such as photographers and designers. BenQ have their own proprietary system called Eye-Care, so they evidently take health and safety impacts seriously.
The GW2480T produces lower blue-light emission than competing models as well as reduced flicker. It has an IPS (check other IPS monitors under $200) type of LCD (liquid crystal display) which improves color vividness and image sharpness when the screen is seen from an angle. Some users have noted that it doesn’t have a particularly fast refresh rate, so this might not be a good choice for gamers.
Our 27″ Pick: ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV 2K Eye Care Monitor
Eye Care Tech: reduced blue light, reduced flicker, 75Hz refresh rate
Size: 24.21 x 15.04 x 8.9 inches Resolution: 2K: 2560 x 1440 pixels Panel Type: IPS Inputs: HDMI, Mini DisplayPort 1.2
What we like: Great Color Reproduction, Fully Ergonomically Adjustable, Unusually fast refresh rate (75Hz)
Not so much: A little pricey, Response rate a little slow for gaming (5 milliseconds), OSD (on-screen display menu) a little user-unfriendly
This 27″ display is a little pricier than the BenQ but has many more features. It can be raised or lowered, rotated, swiveled, and tilted to achieve an ergonomic viewing position.
Regarding eye care technology it uses ASUS Eye Care technology which reduced blue light emissions levels, which can be adjusted from the settings menu. This monitor scores very highly and would definitely suit creative users who spend a lot of time in front of their screens.
It can also be wall-mounted. Its display is Calman Verified, which means color reproduction has been certified to a level suitable for video post-production and professional design use. The ASUS features a faster display rate of 75Hz, which should help reduce flicker.
Eye Protection Tech: reduced blue light, reduced flicker, anti-glare screen Size: 55 x 40 x 21 cm Resolution: HD: 1920 * 1080 pixels Panel Type: LED Inputs: HDMI, VGA
What we like: Fantastic value, Fairly lightweight and compact build, Good eye-care technology for the price
Not so much: Less adjustable stand, Low refresh rate, Less impressive display
This pocket-sparing option has an anti-glare screen to help protect your eyes. Like the BenQ, it has a lower refresh rate and its panel has only limited height adjustment, although it can be tilted in all directions.
To raise it higher, you may end up propping this monitor on a stack of books! It does, however, feature ASUS Eye Care technology the same reduced flicker and lower blue light levels as the pricier Asus monitor. It has a wide viewing angle too, in case you watch movies on it with several friends.
This comparatively compact and lightweight model might best suit a student away from home. Its LED display won’t deliver the superb image quality of some of the costlier monitors but, for this price, it is more than acceptable.
Eye Care Tech: reduced blue light, reduced flicker, anti-glare screen Size: 14.49 x 9.06 x 24.5 inches Resolution: 4K: 3840 x 2160 Panel Type: IPS Inputs: HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, DisplayPort, USB 3.0
What we like: High-class color reproduction, Lots of input options, including USB, 4K resolution for a reasonable cost
Not so much: Might have expected a higher refresh rate, Some users have reported backlight bleed at the corners, Blacks could be a little darker
As you might expect from a 4K monitor aimed at designers, this BenQ model boasts excellent color reproduction and image quality, Its colors are Calman and Pantone certified (the latter is especially important for designers).
It has a low blue-light setting (good for reading text on a white background). This is an sRGB monitor, meaning that it doesn’t run the full range of colors of a much more expensive full RGB model. But since sRGB is by far the industry standard, this isn’t much of a limitation.
Some users have noted that blacks should be a little darker. The stand is fully adjustable, so you can ensure a comfortable viewing angle. This monitor might be over-specified if you’re not using it for creative visual work but offers great value otherwise.
Eye Protection Tech: Blue light reduction, flicker-free Size: 73 x 50 x 18 cm Resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) Panel Type: LED Inputs: HDMI (2) and DisplayPort
What we like: Wonderful all-round image quality, Much improved built-in speakers, Great value for 4K resolution
Not so much: Still only a 60Hz refresh rate, Tricky to use OSD and takes time to power down Less flexible stand
If you want a monitor for poor eyesight, this Asus monitor delivers about the largest screen size you can comfortably desk-mount. Like the 27 inch BenQ, it offers full 4K resolution. With such a large screen to balance, this monitor is not quite as physically adjustable as the smaller ones.
However, it offers a great range of features that make this a fantastic mid-price option. It includes cinema and gaming modes and special technology to prevent “screen tearing” (a zig-zag like a separation that can happen with fast-moving objects on screen).
Excellent blue light and flicker reduction are included for your eye protection, as well as a 178-degree viewing angle, with improved, 2W stereo speakers built-in. This is a great all-rounder for games and movies, although, for prolonged work use, you’ll need a larger desk so you can sit far enough back.
Eye Protection tech: Blue light reduction, flicker-free, curved screen, 165Hz refresh rate Size: 23.98 x 15.24 x 8.31 inches Resolution: HD: 1920 x 1080 pixels Panel Type: W-LED Inputs: HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, audio line-in, and earphone jacks
What we like: Curved screen is highly ergonomic, Lots of gamer-friendly adaptations including high refresh rate, Great value for 4K resolution, High connectivity
Not so much: HD image quality only, Not an ideal screen for sharing, Less flexible stand
Another recent innovation to help reduce eye strain is the use of a curved monitor. These improve your field of vision, since every pixel is roughly the same distance from your eye, even in the far corners, requiring less re-focusing.
This is especially handy for gaming since it should help sharpen your reflex and response times. This 27-inch model is reasonably-priced, offers full HD with motion blur reduction as well as Asus’ standard Eye Care technology, including flicker and blue light reduction, as well as improved clarity in shadowy areas.
The refresh rate is exceptional – up to 165Hz, which should eliminate blurring. The height is adjustable and, with a curved screen, it should not be excessively tilted or viewed from an angle. You should sit centered directly in front of it. This, therefore, is not the best screen for movie night but for games, it offers a truly immersive experience.
Eye care monitor FAQs
Which monitor is best for eyes LCD or LED?
It’s a tricky question. Older LCD screens produce less harmful blue light, so in theory, these ought to be healthier. However, LCD screens often feature LED backlighting, which produces more blue light. This side-effect has made manufacturers of LED screens innovate with blue-light reduction technologies. A more reliable guide is to look at what blue-light reduction capabilities your monitor offers, regardless of its display system.
Are large monitors better for the eyes?
Below a certain size, eye strain can occur. For instance, if you are squinting at small text on a white background on your laptop for much of your day. However, anything larger than the average laptop screen should reduce this problem. When you go above a certain size, you would be advised to sit further back or employ a curved screen to reduce eye-strain from constant head movement or eye refocusing. A handy rule of thumb is to take the diagonal screen size measurement and divide it by 0.84. For example, you should ideally sit at least 22.68 inches away from a 27-inch screen.
Is IPS better for the eyes?
If you are looking at a screen from an oblique angle (for instance if you have more than one screen), then IPS offers better resolution and improved color accuracy. In such circumstances, there may be a marginal advantage to getting an IPS monitor.
Is 4k better for your eyes?
Not especially. The resolution of a screen has much less to do with eye strain than blue light, motion blurring, refresh rate, or screen size. 4K screens tend to be larger, requiring you to sit further back.
Is using a TV as a monitor bad for the eyes?
If you have a very large TV, it may be impractical to sit far enough back to use it as a day-to-day monitor. Such use could have a knock-on negative effect upon your vision. Smaller TV screens might be a reasonable substitution, but remember that your desk and chair should be positioned appropriately in relation to the screen.
Is a curved screen better for the eyes?
Yes, so long as you sit directly in front of it. This technology means you have to move and refocus your eyes less, which helps minimize eye strain.
Eye care technologies
We can take steps to limit our screen time, of course, but for many, this may be impossible. So much office-based work (check some of the best monitors for video conferencing) requires long-term monitor use. It is important to set up your home office, or workstation, as ergonomically as possible, and take advantage of whatever health and safety improvements your employer can offer. If you are working from home, remember to take regular screen breaks.
Fortunately, computer monitor manufacturers are aware of these issues and often include technologies to limit the negative effects of staring at a screen for long periods of time. Some have a flicker reduction in technology, glare-proof screens, and blue light reduction.
Blue light is light from one end of the visual spectrum and has a similar wavelength to sunlight. However, prolonged exposure can lead to premature aging of the eyes, as well as disturbed sleep patterns if you use your monitor too close to bedtime. The brain can be fooled into believing it is still receiving sunlight. Its circadian rhythm – the natural cycle of daylight and darkness – is thereby disrupted, producing insomnia.
1 Coles‐Brennan, C., Sulley, A. and Young, G. (2019), Management of digital eye strain. Clin Exp Optom, 102: 18-29. doi:10.1111/cxo.12798
Last update on 2021-07-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API