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MAV'ers triggered by computer use -- your advice needed!


It doesn’t surprise me at all that the LED screens do you in. Note that this is NOT a function of LED light–LED light is indeed flicker-free. The issue is that they don’t know how to make the LED lights work at different brightness levels, or at least not inexpensively. So they way they control brightness on an LED screen is to duty cycle the LED light on and off rapidly. The longer the period of darkness, the less bright the light seems. They flash the light at a rate (120-180 times a second) that no one can physically see the flickering. However, there has been some discussion that people with migranes have a much higher “flicker fusion threshold”, i.e. their brains are bothered by flickering at very fast rates even though they can’t physically see the flashing occurring.

My advice to anyone having problems with an LED monitor is to turn the brightness to 100% and then use a video card control panel to bring it back down and see if that helps at all. This won’t work on every monitor, as some still flicker even at 100% brightness(my LG IPS monitor does not). This would probably screw up color saturations, so if your and artist who needs color purity I’d go with an IPS LCD like the Dell U2410 (or better).

The reason IPS is better is that it can natively display all the colors it needs. The cheaper TN panel monitors (most in existance) use dithering to display some colors. Meaning they rapidly flash two colors on top of each other and your brain then makes it out as a 3rd color. Again, this is happening so quickly that it is impossible to see, but the theory is that the migraine brain can be bothered anyway.


— Begin quote from “scott”

One thing’s for sure, almost all LED backlit screens do me in. Amazingly though I am cool on the Dell widescreen though I had to suffer for 3 weeks to get there.

— End quote

Scott - As you know I have this same issue with LEDs, but then what’s to explain our both having issues with LCD screens on newer machines? Do you still think it could be the video cards? JamieH seems to indicate that there might be a way to manipulate those settings too. I ask as my boss just recently inquired about getting new iMacs in the office, and I’m having a panic attack!!


Hi Adrienne,

Sorry I missed your reply. The visual disturbance is kicked off by 3 different elements from what I can tell – for me anyway:

  1. The screen – if it’s new, it is a problem because the brain has not adjusted; the width of the screen and thus the overall impact is a factor
  2. LED backlit screens seem to be harder to handle probably because of the flicker thing going on to reduce the perceived brightness
  3. The video card is a factor in the way it interacts with the screen. So I’ve had an LCD screen that was totally fine on a number of video cards but stuck that same screen on a new video card last year and I had a severe reaction. There was just no way I was going to adapt. It was horrific.

You need some options up your sleeve for work. It may work out with a new iMac or it may not. It took me 2-3 weeks to adapt to the Dell wide screen I have at work but the level of discomfort while getting there was tolerable whereas it was not doable with the old screen plus new video card. If you can handle a new screen over small chunks of time I’d keep at it, use valium etc, until your diva brain stops giving you grief.

You’ll just have to tell the boss that if you get a new iMac, it may have to go back but you are willing to have a go. While transitioning to a new machine, have a backup nearby. I had my MacBook by the side at all times. It was like a crutch and kept me calm while I was adjusting because I knew there was an alternative. The last thing you want to have going on while the brain is getting used to a new screen is anxiety because that will hinder the adaptation.

Let me know how it all goes and good luck. I truly understand the angst and annoyance you are feeling.

Scott 8)


Thanks for your reply, Scott. Somehow I don’t know that my brain actually does adjust when it comes to this trigger – machines/monitors that bother me seem to bother me no matter how long I keep using them, although I guess the severity can be different. The iPhone, for instance (which I use as my primary phone) continues to bother me after a year of using it, when I use it for long periods. To send a quick text or make a phone call I’m fine, but if I’m reading text on it or browsing pictures, I am instantly dizzy. And I know you’ve said the smaller screens don’t bother you, so we’re different there. Why must my main trigger be something I have to use every day?! Of course my anxiety around this makes it hard to tell what is really affecting me and how when I attempt to try new machines, but I guess I gotta keep trying :roll:

Strangely enough, for home use I ended up buying a mac mini and plugging it into my TV screen and it doesn’t seem to bother me (though the same machine with a computer monitor did).


I work all day long on computers and have found my large screen work pc sets me off if I don’t take frequent breaks. My very old iBook never gave me trouble, but when I upgraded to a MacBook Pro two months ago all hell broke loose. I turn the brightness down very low and take lots of breaks–I also can’t work on it in a dark room. Interestingly, my new iPad hasn’t given me any problems (thankfully, because I’m in love with it). :lol:


Looking at the screen of my HP Pavilion laptop makes me instantly dizzy on most days (but oddly, not always). I also tend to get ill at the movie theater watching the screen. I’ve ordered some glasses from a U.S. supplier Axon Optics, and I’ll let you all know if I have any success with them. I splurged on prescription version of the glasses (approximately US$125), rather than the cheaper wraparound style.

This image links to a product members have found helpful and at the same time help fund the site: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks for your support!

Axon Optics Migraine Glasses (US only)
More relevant eyewear here


— Begin quote from “adrir”

Hi guys,
So it’s taken a long while, and maybe this hasn’t even always been the case since I’ve had symptoms of MAV, but I now am certain that computer use is a trigger for my dizziness. This is not at all a good things for me as I have to use a computer for my job (and I’m also a bit of a tech addict). Somehow at work the screen I’m using doesn’t seem to bother me too badly with a filter cover over it – but my computer at home (a beautiful, bright shiny iMac) sets me off within minutes of looking at it. The same is true for the iPad and even my beloved iPhone. I am beginning to think it has something to do with all newer Mac products (my husband thought maybe the glossy screen?) but today I sat in front of a PC for 2 hours and was feeling similarly wobbly, although it’s possible it was just because I woke up extra early today or that I didn’t have a filter on that screen (??). My doctor can’t come up with any reason why one computer might bother me and not another except perhaps the refresh rate? But I don’t think that’s something I can change on a Mac. Can anyone offer any insight into this? Unless I buy myself another old Cinema Display (what I’m using at work) to put in front of my newer computer at home :? , I’m not quite sure what I can do…


— End quote

It is very likely that computer screens are a trigger…or at least make you feel much worse. I know that during an episode I cannot look at a computer screen at all and on the few “good” days I have I can only look at them for a short time.

I don’t believe it is related to they type/brand of computer you are using…especially Mac vs PC. It is related to the refresh of the screen. Although you cannot see it, a computer screen is constantly refreshing. While it doesn’t visually register the eyes/brain do pick it up. If you have ever seen a live computer screen on TV you often see the “bar” moving from top to bottom. TV cameras pick up the refresh and TVs display them as they pick up images slower than our eyes/brain. Most of the time now when you see a computer screen on TV you don’t see this because the image of that computer screen is simulated so people don’t see it.

Also the amount of visual motion on a computer screen like scrolling and all of the animated ads trigger symptoms.

It is similar with people who have epilepsy and various flickering speeds of things on a computer screen can trigger seizures. The was a paticular issue before Windows during the DOS days and the flashing cursor was the big issue.

So it is very common that people with MAV or other types of vestibular vertigo cannot spend time using computers…and for those of us who spent their careers constantly in front of a computer or are major tech fans have had to give a lot if it up.

For me the only computer-type screen that doesn’t cause any issues is the Amazon Kindle 2. The screen doesn’t refresh while you are reading…but later versions of the Kindle have had the same effect as other computer screens.


The Kindle 1 & 2 are not really computer screens. They aren’t back-lit and operate completely differently than computer monitors. I would be quite surprised if they bothered any migraine people with who light or flickering is the main trigger.


Well, I’m back in the shit again with this nonsense. Today I bought the 3rd gen iPad. It’s a very high res and crispy sharp screen. The few times I’ve used it in the Apple Store it had no effect but here at home it immediately hit me. Just a few minutes on it and I’m dizzy and disorientated. Dammit, I hate this crap. Haven’t been dizzy like this for quite some time and thought I’d cope without any problems. Yeah right.

So it looks like I’ll have to go through another 2 weeks of misery until this fried brain of mine gets its act together. How disappointing … I just hope this doesn’t turn into a failure like the MacBook Air did. :frowning:


I can not sit at a computer at all without losing my mind. I don’t know if it’s the combination of sitting, which makes me really dizzy and looking at a screen. I get so dizzy and totally disoriented. It’s the worst feeling.
However…I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE my iPad. I don’t know what I’d do without it!!! My iPad is my best friend. The only thing bad about the iPad is typing is more difficult and I make more spelling errors because I use one finger. But oh we’ll. I’m able to lie down and use it so that really helps. I have dizziness and nausea 24/7 so unfortunately I have to lie down a lot. Ugh. So much for the active girl that I was.

But anyway, if it wasn’t for the iPad, I’d be lost in this world because there is no way I can sit at a computer. Hopefully fex will work because eventually I have to go back to my job and will unfortunately be in front of computer all day. I have so much fear of that.

Scott, I guess you can’t tell me how the ipad 3 is. I have 2nd generation and absolutely need the 3rd one. Sorry you’re having so much difficulty because iPads are truly something else.



I’m looking at my HP laptop now using the glasses I got from Axon Optics in Salt Lake City that purportedly filter out the constant refreshing flicker that drives us MAV’ers nuts. It’s a bit too soon to tell whether they are allowing me to tolerate spending lengthy periods of time at the screen, and I haven’t tried going to the movies yet. However, I had an appointment with a neuro-opthalmalogist at Georgetown University Hospital yesterday and mentioned these glasses, and the doctor said, “oh, yes, I’ve heard about them,” without either endorsing them or debunking them. He just said that sometimes it’s the eyes overloading the brain with signals that sends it into migraine, but sometimes it’s the ears or other trigger. So, the jury is still out whether these glasses are going to allow me really use this computer long term without getting superdizzy. At least they make me look like Elton John.


— Begin quote from “scott”

Well, I’m back in the shit again with this nonsense. Today I bought the 3rd gen iPad. It’s a very high res and crispy sharp screen. The few times I’ve used it in the Apple Store it had no effect but here at home it immediately hit me. Just a few minutes on it and I’m dizzy and disorientated. Dammit, I hate this crap. Haven’t been dizzy like this for quite some time and thought I’d cope without any problems. Yeah right.

So it looks like I’ll have to go through another 2 weeks of misery until this fried brain of mine gets its act together. How disappointing … I just hope this doesn’t turn into a failure like the MacBook Air did. :frowning:

— End quote

Solution: Stop buying new iPads. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sorry to hear that you’re having issues again. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.


— Begin quote from “slightcrazed”

Solution: Stop buying new iPads. :stuck_out_tongue:

— End quote

No chance! :smiley: This is the way everything will be going in the future in terms of screen resolution. Have to be able to get used to this or else be left behind sooner or later.



How are you going with the Axon glasses? I have ordered some too and hope they will arrive by the end of the week. Has it reduced your MAV?


How are you going with the IPAD3?

I ordered an IPAD3 myself. I hope it suits me. It is supposed to arrive today some time. I bought it because I find sitting on my laptop in one position makes my MAV worst so with the IPAD3 I can move abouts easily (lying flat or sideways, holding it on my lap facing upwards, recline on the sofa and hold it up etc)


Ugh, so in the last month I’ve had a regression of my symptoms after doing fairly well for a while (though many computers were still a trigger). Suddenly now, the machine I’ve been using at work for 2 years without a problem seems to be triggering me. It’s not as bad as some others in that I can do non-detailed activities without much of a problem, but when it comes to reading and writing, it’s really screwing with me. Has this happened to anyone else – a machine they’ve used without a problem suddenly starts bothering them? I am getting so so worried about what I’m going to do about work if this continues :frowning: Please, any thoughts appreciated!


Yup, I have but only when I triggered it by:

  1. Going off an SSRI
  2. Stressing out over something really badly like when I began this current job

On both occasions the screen was fine and then it was a disaster. The Cipramil mess was so bad I couldn’t even watch the television. It took me about 3-4 weeks to be OK on a screen again after cranking the med up to 15 mg back in 2005.


Well I can definitely say my stress has been through the roof! Trying to take a lot of breaks (my eye doctor says to look away out a window at the furthest thing you can see for a solid MINUTE every 20 minutes…)

How goes it with the iPad3, Scott? My husband got one and I won’t even let him come near me with it as I know I will look like this: :shock:
This being such an obvious trigger for me definitely makes me more “comfortable” associating with the MAV crowd – never heard of any other illness that sends your brain to the moon just by looking at a screen!


The iPad is still doing my head in. Within minutes of using it my heart rate starts to rev and I begin having “that feeling” that all is not well. But I persist then stop after about 30 min and feel crappy for about an hour or more. Hoping my brain kicks in soon and stops flipping out.


Well, the new iPad was a great big FAIL. :frowning: I just couldn’t get used to it and with the 2-week mark approaching I took it back and got a full refund. I’m not gutted really because I like the iPad 2 just fine and it is really comfortable to use – and it’s lighter. But I have no idea what I’ll do as technology continues to move in this direction with ultra high res screens.


Sorry to hear that, Scott! That’s a tough one. I too have held off on the 3rd generation because of your posts. I really want one, but I know I’ll have the same problem. Technology is moving quick and I hate to be left behind.

I am wondering if my job brought on MAV for me? Because this all started after I began a new job. It didn’t start till maybe a year into it but at some point, we got brand new big flat screen monitors. I wish I could remember the date. Do you think it’s possible that triggered MAV? Do you even know how MAV gets brought on. Soo confusing to me?

Anyway, sorry about the ipad3. That is such a let down. I don’t Know much about them yet, but have you tried those funky looking glasses? I’m going to look into those as I will have to go back to work eventually.