A new monitor is an important investment as it will likely be an integral part of your setup that you will use for years. In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of curved and flat monitors and look at research surrounding them.
In recent years, household TVs and monitors have adopted the curved design to give the average user a more immersive experience. Here at 1HP, we are not just concerned about the experience. We’re also interested in ergonomics, increasing performance, and playing without pain. New advances in technology come with a lot of excitement and big claims, but to really dive into the meat of “which is better?”, it’s important to look at the research surrounding it.
Monitors and Eye Strain
In a 2016 study with 27 individuals, researchers looked at differences between flat and curved monitors and the effects they have on a person’s vision and eyesight. Researchers did NOT find any significant difference in the eyes ability to focus on close/far objects or find various objects on the screen. They did, however, discover that there was a significant worsening of symptoms such as blurred vision, difficulty focusing, eye strain/ache, and eyes feeling tired with the use of flat monitors. At the same time, they also found a significant worsening of overall fatigue with curved monitors (Lee et al., 2016).
Another study from 2016 looked at 20 individuals and precise eye function when using flat monitors vs. monitors of various curvatures. There were no significant changes with any monitor in the eye’s speed, ability, and accuracy to adjust and focus before or after the screen brightness was adjusted. However, there was a significant difference between the monitor in how easily the eyes adjusted when an object moved closer to your nose, with the flat monitor making it the hardest. After completing an activity on the flat monitors, participants experienced blurriness or double vision sooner than they did before the activity. Participants reported significantly higher intensity and frequency of eye pain with the flat monitor versus the 1000R curved monitor. Interestingly, the participants only looked at these monitors for 30 minutes. It’s possible that these differences would worsen after longer sessions (Luo et al., 2016).
While both studies have their own limitations, they still give us a good idea of what kind of effect these monitors have on our eyes.
Do I Need a Curved Monitor?
The answer really is “it depends.” Claims that curved monitors are better for your eyes and create a more immersive experience are supported by current research. At the same time, flat monitors still have an edge over curved monitors when competing due to their higher refresh rate.
How Curved Should My Monitor Be?
The curve in a monitor is reflected by a number such as 1500R, 3800R, etc., but what does this mean?
The “R” stands for radius of the curvature. That means the smaller the number, the tighter the curve (and vice versa). To keep it simple, this demonstrates the distance you want to sit in order for your eyes (field of view) to fully benefit from the curvature. For example, a 1500R monitor would best be viewed from 1500mm (1.5 meters) away.
Should Gamers Use Curved Monitors?
Newer does not always mean better. For competitive gaming, refresh rate is often the highest priority. This allows for the responsiveness to be as quick as possible–which is important when milliseconds count. Though it may seem like a miniscule change, it’s important to remember that a culmination of these small, minute changes are what can make a big difference and could take your performance to the next level.
With all gaming equipment, there are a variety of options to choose from. It’s up to you to decide what features are most important to you. Check out 1HP’s helpful pros and cons guide to make the best choice for you!
Want to know more? Check out the research cited in this article:
Lee HJ, Kim S-J (2016) Factors Associated with Visual Fatigue from Curved Monitor Use: A Prospective Study of Healthy Subjects. PLoS ONE 11(10): e0164022. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0164022
Luo G, Chen Y, Doherty A, Liu R, Shi C, Wang S, Le H, Peli E. (2016). 66-2: Comparison of Flat and Curved Monitors: Eyestrain Caused by Intensive Visual Search Task. SID Symposium Digest of Technical Papers. 47. 903-906. 10.1002/sdtp.10839.