Pulse-width modulation as a new hygienic factor determining the visual comfort of modern screens

Kurgansky AM
About authors

National Medical Research Center for Children's Health, Moscow, Russia

Correspondence should be addressed: Alexander M. Kurgansky
Lomonosovsky prospect, 2, bld. 1, Moscow, 119991, Russia; ur.xednay@ksnagruk

Received: 2023-12-07 Accepted: 2024-03-06 Published online: 2024-03-28

The information revolution and intensive development of electronic devices take place in the recent decades. Furthermore, not so long ago such a hygienic factor, as the display luminance pulse-width modulation (PWM) capable of causing visual discomfort (PWM symptoms) in individuals with increased sensitivity to visual load, has become relevant. The main complaints include eye pain, headache, sometimes nausea, up to the inability to use such screens. Moreover, this characteristic can be peculiar not only to LED (AMOLED, etc.), but also to IPS displays due to the presence of the LED backlight layer. No regulation of the issue has led to the emergence of online resources on PWM and the problem of visual impairment, where users verify the data on their own, which suggests the relevance of the subject selected. The paper reports theoretical aspects of PWM, technical characteristics of displays with PWM; the approaches to PWM measurement are described; the possible ways to reduce visual discomfort are discussed. Furthermore, the paper describes the method to measure PWM of displays using a photo camera with the exposure time set to 1/20 s, along with the method testing results. It has been shown that further research focused on assessing the effects of PWM on vision and the development of the method for hygienic assessment of monitors and smartphone screens with PWM are required.

Keywords: pulse-width modulation, displays, screens, monitors, visual discomfort, visual fatigue, PWM symptoms