The Vestibular Migraine & Secondary Hydrops Community
Read our welcome post, user support wiki & visit our member recommended products page

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


I think we need to keep in mind that some of us react badly to computer screens for different reasons and it also appears that no two people are alike with this either. Sensitivities vary. Some here most definitely react to the light component. The brighter it is, the worse they feel and these same people probably feel bad in bright sunlight for example. For others, it’s a function of the sharpness of the screen and how the image is presented to the brain.

I know that I am triggered solely by the visual aspect. On a screen that sets me off it doesn’t matter what I do to the brightness or contrast, or whether I even stick a matte finish over the screen or put on sunglasses. It still sets me off. And as I said before it’s not necessarily the screen itself as I once thought. Simply changing a video card on a screen at work made it unusable. Suddenly the sharpness had changed and letters appeared almost 3D as they lept off the page. It sent me into one of the most severe states of disorientation I’ve ever experienced on a screen and took me a couple of days to recover from.

The iPad 2 also set me off but at a low level. Two weeks on it and I adjusted. This did not occur on the third gen iPad which is very sharp yet not bothersome to look at really – not like the MacBook Air was. I’m sure it would have been ok on the iPad 3 if I had persisted for weeks but then maybe not. Maybe there is a point where no matter how much exposure you allow, the brain just doesn’t get there and so you have to move on.



That is interesting about the sunglasses indoors being bad for you. I strictly wear them for using the computer. I take them off when I do anything else including, ironically, going outside. I may be careful, but I would be unemployed if I couldn’t wear these glasses so I really have no choice for the time being.

I’m afraid I can’t help you with the Mac as I don’t know enough about it. I own a MacBook for Safari compatibilty testing, but it sets me off by far worse than any other screen. When we measured it with my dad’s light scope it was flicerking at a slower rate than any of my other monitors, down in the low 100Hz range I believe. Are there control panels in the Mac? I would look for an Nvidia control panel where you might be able to set brightness. If you can’t find that, you’re probably better off getting an IPS LCD montior that doesn’t flicker (Dell monitors are pretty good for this if you buy their better ones). Honestly, I think my Dell LCD is much better for me than the LED at 100%.

As for the “refresh rate” that is a bygone of the CRT monitor era. You can’t change the refresh rate on LCD/LED montiors (with a few very rare occasions) and that is really irrelevant. No LCD/LED monitor is flickering due to screen refresh. They flicker for two other reasons, neither of which can be adjusted by the computer:

  1. LED duty cycle: They haven’t figured out how to properly use LED light at multiple brightnesses. So they duty cycle the light to change the apparent brigtness. The cycle IS so fast that you can’t see it, however it absolutely kills me. I have a blind trial on this, because I didn’t realize my LED monitor had gone back to 50% brightness and I couldn’t figure out why it was making me sick. So there was no placebo–it was making me sick for sure. BTW, we took my dad’s light scope to my LED monitor and it absolutely flickered in the 130-170 Hz range when I adjusted the brightness down, but at 100% it had no flicker at all. So the LED flickering isn’t just a theory, this is really how it works.

  2. TN panel LCD monitors flicker to show you more colors than they are designed to show. They are super cheap LCD panels and to show some colors (for example maybe, purple, they rapidly flash red and blue colors on top of each other. Your brain sees this as purple. But I believe this type of monitor bothers me, though when I was using it was back before I realized I was just light sensitive in general and I haven’t gone back to it to try again.

So that guy is right–you can’t adjust the refresh rate. But that isn’t the problem. The problem is that the monitors are flickering for reasons other than refresh rate. No one can see it, but I am 100% convinced that it can affect migraines. At least the LED issue. I’m not 100% convinced on the TN color dithering.


As I am still trying to figure this problem out, I came across an article from a doctor today around sensitivity to monitors: … ckerI.html He believes this IS caused by flicker & that there are several different types of flicker happening. He offers some suggestions based on the type of monitor you have (some I have heard here, ie rose colored glasses, sitting further back, using a screen cover).

Scott, I think you’ll find the section about LED’s particularly dead on to what we both experience:

— Begin quote from ____

You are probably wondering if the new LCDs that are backlit by LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) have less subliminal flicker and/or less EMF than the fluorescent tube backlit type. The answer is no. The flicker rate is determined by the vertical refresh rate of the pixels, and is not caused by the backlight. Concerning EMF, the LED backlight is usually operated in a pulsed mode by a very electrically noisy/EMF-producing power supply similar to the one that runs fluorescent backlights. Also, the EMFs in LCDs come not only from the backlight power supply, but also from the main power supply, the electronics circuit board, and from the front of the screen itself due to the high frequency of the addressing and refreshing of the individual liquid crystal pixels. An EMF filter placed in front of an LCD screen can only reduce the emitted fields slightly because the EMFs leak through and around the filter plate. A true very low EMF monitor is very difficult and expensive to achieve. Greater distance from the screen reduces EMF exposure. (Note that the plasma type of screen has been reported to have extremely high EMF emissions.)

— End quote

I still wonder, is this something that I should continue to look at other MAV medication options for? This is my one surefire trigger and a serious one to have to deal with given the job I do and today’s tech-driven world, but I feel crazy to keep pursuing meds in the hopes that I’ll suddenly start looking at my iPhone (among everything else) without a problem :?


Reading this thread I now understand why my symptoms from using my new laptop (with LED backlighting) are worse than my flatscreen monitor plus desktop, which gave me issues but was tolerable for longer. I’ve been having to lie down after 20 minutes use, but for some reason, hadn’t made the correlation. That’ll be those slowed cognitive MAV processes then. :smiley:

I’ve not found a method of reducing the effect whilst using computers and have often been found in the office with my head on my desk, holding on for the ride. I’m not working at the moment but am hell-bent on trying to start again as soon as possible. As I’m also a desk-jockey, I’m going to give the Migralens a try. I’ll feed back with my review.


Please note that I doubt the EMF stuff in the article that Adir referenced is what is causing migraine sufferers problems with LED monitors. IMO The reason LED monitors are a problem for people with migraines is the strobing of the LED light in order to adjust the brightness of it. The amount of flickering due to EMF’s is probably about 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000th of what it going on due to the strobing. It is just insignificant. It’s like being underwater and worrying about getting wet from the rain. :slight_smile:


Hi all,

I am having trouble with my computer screen at work tit triggers me off

I’m thinking of getting the below

(NB from admin: these images link to products this member has found helpful and at the same time helps fund the site: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. More recommended products here. Thanks for your support!)

Anyone tried anything like this?


The anti glare computer screen sheet is def worth it

I tried the computer screen and night time driving glasses but that didn’t do the trick for me. I prefer using the FL-41 migraine specific darker glasses for both computer screens and night/day driving


Just an update, in case it is worthwhile to anyone:

  1. I bought the Axion Optics anti-migraine glasses, and I notice no positive benefit while using them.

  2. My LED laptop (HP Pavillion) makes my head throb within 10 minutes of use, whether brightness is at 100% or at any other setting.

  3. The LCD monitor on my desktop at work (a 24" Acer H432H) doesn’t seem to bother me at all. Accordingly, I’m purchasing one for home and using my laptop merely as a CPU. I’m certainly tired of fighting the urge to use my laptop, knowing that it just makes me feel sick!!



Unfortunately it is certainly possible that your LED flickers/strobes even at 100% brightness. It all depends on how they build the mechanism that controls the brightness. Someone on here had a trick they pulled with their camera to check it, but I only know how to check it with my dad’s really expensive optical oscilloscope.

You’ve already done the best thing–you found a monitor that doesn’t bother you and you’re sticking with it and buying extras. That is definitely the best plan.


I get the same thing, some days far worse than others. It’s a serious bummer, as I don’t have a cell phone anymore & have to use Google Voice to text my sis. Most ‘friends’ have bailed & don’t call or anything so at times this is THE link to the outside world.

I find that if I am using my laptop and the room is somewhat dark, the symptoms are far worse. I use a Gateway 15.6" 16:9 HD LEC LCD as per the sticker. I really don’t know what that means!! :lol: Oh well.


As I have posted up-thread, LED-backlit LCD monitors tend to be murder on people with migraine issues. I highly recommend anyone with migraine issues avoid them like the plague unless you get a chance to test-drive the monitor and know that it doesn’t bother you.

The method used to adjust brightness on LED-backlit monitors causes a strobing effect at 110-200Hz that you cannot see, but this strobing can trigger migraines. I found in me the effect caused problems in as little as 5-10 minutes. And yes, it was worse for me in dark rooms as well. The strobing is probably worse on you if there is no other light in the room to balance it out.


Hi guys,

To illustrate that our problems on computer screens does not necessarily break down to the brightness and contrast settings or even the video card, I have a very strange situation which I’m sure my migraine brain will get over (I hope).

I’m sitting at work on a Dell Windows box with a dell wide-screen LCD. I’ve used this configuration for over a year now with Windows XP on it. Today they swapped my computer for another exact same Dell with an identical spec but with Windows 7 installed. It’s the exact same video card in this box and I have the exact same screen BUT I’m dizzy again. Windows 7 renders the text on the screen differently than Windows XP. It looks better now an is cleaner to look at. However, with the cleaner view, my brain is freaking out and it’s hitting me – immediately.

I should also add that I saw a physiotherapist this morning for a neck mangling and some work on a non-stop tennis elbow thing. He rubbed in a ton of Voltaren into my upper forearm. I do not do well with ANY chemical rubbed into my skin. And so I feel doped out on top of the screen trigger. The physio session may have just put me that much closer to the edge to set this off too of course.

Whatever the problem, it’s a pain in the ass and it looks like I’ll have a rough few days while I adapt. I have to. This new set up looks amazing.

Scott :shock:


Is it possible for a mav brain to adapt. I’ve often wondered that.

I hope yours does and that you feel better soon :slight_smile:



Thanks MP.

The dizziness stopped and this new screen is OK now but I’ve realised what is really doing me in badly. Voltaren. The physio rubbed in tons of it yesterday morning and I was all dizzy and messed up for hours afterwards thinking it was the screen more than the V. Last night I was OK again. But this morning I woke with a god-awful headache which I didn’t at first attribute to the Voltaren. So I put more V on this morning at work and now I’m wasted again. Some dizziness and feeling spaced out and disconnected again. Very hard to do any work right now … no motivation.

I’ll just stick to icing this thing and that’s it. Chemical sensitivity on steroids here. :frowning:


Update on my ongoing computer mystery…
This message is mainly for Jamie and Scott, who know well the issue of computers being symptom triggers, but I’m open to ideas from anyone.

At this point, I cannout use ANY computers (including tablets or smartphones) without triggering off symptoms. The symptoms are in the range of my general dizziness/disorientation but there’s something distinct about the way I feel after using a computer – a generally ill sensation that is extremely uncomfortable. It got so bad that I had to quit my job. Odlly, the computer I used at work I managed to continue using for much longer than any others (ie my home omputer really bothered me, but the one at work was okay, until it wasn’t). I’ve started taking lessons on how to use the computer as a blind user but it’s like learning nother language and I am dead set on trying everything possible before giving up on this ompletely. For now, I’m using dictation apps on y iphone just to get by, but it’s not ideal to say the least.

Here’s what I’ve learned about this ailment along the way:

-** I do not believe it is a product of light sensitivity**, for a few reasons:

  1. I am not set off by lights (fluorescent or otherwise) in other settings., aside from strobe lights
  2. I’m able to watch TV without getting these symptoms. I thought this might be because I sit much further back, so I tried hooking up my computer to the TV and after a few days of using it this way, started getting the symptoms, especially when trying to read
  3. Sunglasses, screen covers, and/or dimming the brightness do little to help

**I’ve explored the subliminal flicker theory ( … ckerI.html) **
I read extensively about this and it really sounded like it could be the problem. However, I’ve now tried 2 different monitors that run at 120 hz (supposedly too fast for the brain to pick up the flick) and am still getting symptoms. I might last a few minutes longer on these monitors but the symptoms still come. One of the monitors is LED backlit which I keep at 100% brightness to avoid flicker. I’m unsure as to whether LEDs are actually better or worse for flicker-sensitive people as there is mixed info on this. In any case, it was not successful for me.

I’ve also tried (unsuccessfully): prescription prism computer glasses, taking regular breaks, using a matte screen

I’ve noted with interst that I am able to look at certain screens without my symptoms being set off - for instance, the monitor at a store’s checkout line or a Kindle. It makes me wonder if this really has more to do with the hardware producing the image than the monitor itself but I have no idea what hardware specifications could be affecting this other than the resolution from a graphics card.

I know this is a lot of info, but I’m desperate for any thoughts and wanted to give a full picture of where I’m at.

For those of you dealing with this trigger, can you tell me specifically what computer(s) and monitor(s) work for you? I’m willing to try anything!



My ipad2 is the only computer I can use. I haven’t tried a kindle yet. I admire your persistence in trying to work out your triggers & even learning to use a pc for blind people! Still, if it means you can still commuicate with the ‘outside world’ it’ll worth the effort, for sure. Wishing you well in your search.


LED-backlit monitors are DEFINITELY WORSE. They are, in many cases, essentially strobe lights. You cannot see this, but I have tested them with an optical oscilloscope to verify it. They use Pulse-Width Modulation to control brightness and their are flashing at speeds of 120-180Hz which can definitely be detected by migraine-sensitive people. Not all LED backlit monitors do this but enough do to be very wary of them. The older monitors that use CCFL backlights usually flash at much much higher rates that are undetectable by anyone.

That all being said, there is no guarantee that that is your problem. That is just one of the possible problems that MAVers have with computer monitors.

My personal favorite monitor is the Dell U2410 set to minimum brightness. It is an IPS LCD display, so it has super-clear text. It is too bright–I wish it went dimmer. But otherwise it is a great monitor.


Hey guys,
Just wondering… have you tried using a computer screen sitting straight and not typin? Does it trigger it as well?

I have noticed computers/iphone trigger MAV for me as well but i have always been under the impression it might be because of the posture while using the computer/iphone. When i have tension in my neck/lower head, it definitely triggers MAV for me.


Surely the problem lies with the visual vertigo and the scrolling on a computer. If you just look at a computer screen with a tv program on it you shouldn’t get symptoms for example. It’s the movement of the words as you type, or the repetition of scrolling that causing the problem. When i use an ipad i feel very sick from the scrolling, and after a while laptops do the same. I feel as though i am moving with whatever i am doing so if i’m typing, i feel like i’m moving with the letters and if i’m scrolling i feel the rocking vertigo moving in the same way.
It’s the visual vertigo setting off symptoms. Try not to panic and scroll very slowly. Also keep up visual vertigo exercises inbetween exercises and eventually the brain will adapt. There’s lots of hope here! :smiley:


I’ve dug this one up from last year, particularly for Scott…

Screens seem to be the worst trigger for me. I work in an I.T dept and 95% of my work is done on a computer. I have attempted to work a couple of days but as soon as I start using a pc my heart starts to race, I begin to sweat and then feel sick and dizzy.

I have the migralens glasses which help with the glare and symptoms away from a pc but don’t prevent the horrible symptoms when using one.

I’m presuming my issues are motion related due to visual vertigo and the symptoms above. Scott or anyone else that has experienced this, did it eventually clear up for you ? If do what did you do/what meds were you taking ?

Did you eventually get your new iPad Scott ?

I’m really worried that ten years of hard work building my career are over. It really is concerning!