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What is Flicker Free Technology and PWM?

Pulse width modulation solutions and flicker free technology can reduce eye fatigue from a computer screen.

Flicker Free Technology – The short answer

Flicker free monitors are manufactured to provide one continuous source of light. Old school monitors adjust brightness through flickering which causes periods of low and high screen brightness without adjusting the brightness setting, this can lead to eye fatigue for computer users.

The Slightly longer answer – pulse width modulation and flicker free monitor

Traditional monitors use a mechanism known as pulse width modulation (PWM) to regulate pixel output and the brightness of the screen.

A traditional computer monitor that uses PWM works by switching the led backlight on and off quickly to adjust the light spectrum.

While this flickering of artificial light cannot be seen by the human eye in most cases it does lead to digital eye strain, given how long most of us spend on a monitor and for people who prefer lower brightness levels.

Rather than a constant steam of blue light the screen flickering caused by PWM causes microscopic changes to the screen which our brains can’t detect.

Flicker free technology on the other hand is designed to work around this exact problem.

Flicker free monitor technology uses a direct current to maintain a steady stream energy source to the backlight, which means the backlight brightness can remain constant and this no microscopic flickers that damage eye health.

Luckily most most modern monitors incorporate some kind of technology to reduce flicker. Although you should be careful as some monitors use flicker free displays which only reduce flickering frequency by 30-50% instead of 100%. Over a prolonged period and again, especially at lower brightness settings this is still an issue.

Flicker free technology is the better choice for a computer screen that uses a lower brightness level because of how often the monitor has to adjust when using a lower brightness compared to the output produced by an led backlight. PWM introduce flicker at these lower settings because it keeps having to down regulate the display from the high brightness the led was produced to display.

On the other hand DC modulation led backlights (flicker free monitors) can do so at all brightness levels if they are truly flicker free technology and not a 30-50% reduction some monitors use.

Is there any way to tell whether my monitor uses flicker free technology?

The easiest way to tell is to use the blur busters motion test at a dim brightness, this should tell you if you are using PWM or flicker free.

Luckily there is a decent solution if your monitor isn’t using flicker free and you want to avoid computer vision syndrome.

What to do if you don’t have flicker free monitors?

There is a workaround if you want to avoid computer vision syndrome which has a harmful effect on eye fatigue but you use computer monitors that don’t have a constant stream but use PWM instead.

There are third party apps you can install which decreases the brightness by altering your graphics card instead of dc modulation led backlights. By bypassing the pwm method you can still get some benefit without the need for an upgrade to flicker free.

Other Eye strain points to consider

Even if you have the best flicker free computer monitor you are still exposed to harmful blue light which leads to eye fatigue even without screen flickering.

To increase eye health you should consider anti glare or matte screen technology that some conventional monitors don’t have and adjusting the blue light, especially at night.

Let’s face it given the prolonged periods all of us spend on computer monitors it is worth reducing eye fatigue as much as possible. The human eye is a delicate mechanism and we have enough to worry about with age related macular degeneration.

Wrapping Up – What is flicker free technology

Flicker free technology is a great modern invention used to reduce computer vision syndrome by reducing the frequency at which your screen light flickers to adjust for brightness.

Anything you can do on a monitor to reduce flicker and subsequent eye strain is always helpful.

It is worth looking at what your computer monitor already uses, flicker free or PWM and if you are considering a new monitor how effective the flicker free actually is at preventing blue light fluctuations and eye strain.