Is Higher Refresh Rate Better for Your Eyes?

Is higher refresh rate better for your eyes? Let’s find out. 

There are plenty of debates on what refresh rate suits the best for the human eye. Cognitive researchers are working hard to identify the ideal figure! However, this is a long study and so many factors should be taken into consideration. If you are planning to game in front of the television, you should be cautious about the refresh rate.

That is because small eyes can be extremely sensitive to the hitches that happen on the screen. Apart from the eye, the human brain is also working hard to fill gaps, optimize images and see complete motion on the television screen all the time.

So, would higher refresh rates be healthier? Is frame rate really important?

What would be the ideal refresh rate to suit our eyes? If these are questions in your mind, keep reading.


is higher refresh rate better for your eyes

The Complicated Question

The human eye is not capable of seeing higher frame rates. This indirectly means that high refresh rates will have a lessor impact on the human eye.

The moment you start gaming you might go against this logic. However, with the online rage and gaming sense aside, this is an interesting query to begin with.

The maximum refresh rate that the eye can notice is 60 Hz. Anything that crosses 60 Hz will not affect the human eye to a great extent.

Well, this is mainly because the human eye is a complicated and a strange thing. It doesn’t work as exactly as you would expect.

refresh rate for eyes

How Does the Eye Handle Refresh Rates?

Let’s try to understand this with numbers. Refresh rate is nothing but the frequency between which the television screen switches frames. Every second the television screen keeps switching frames.

And, it doesn’t switch one or two frames, instead hundreds! Some of the town’s finest high definition televisions are capable of switching 120 frames per second. Thus, the refresh rates can be quite equivalent to flicker frequency.

Flicker frequency is more relevant to the eye. It is quite similar to what a flickering bulb would do to the eye. In general, any flickering source that emits steady light flickers between 50 to 70 times a second. This rate is also measured in Hz. Thus, a light bulb can have a flicker frequency of 70 Hz.

Some people spot the flicker at 70 Hz in the light bulbs. For others, the flickering doesn’t make much sense. This is why higher refresh rates are less significant for the human eye. When the eye is not programmed to detect flickers beyond 60 Hz, it will not be influenced by a refresh rate as high as 120 Hz.

However, this answers only a small part of the entire puzzle. Have you come across the study on pilots who are capable of identifying images which are flashed only 1/250th of a second?

This means their eyes are capable of handling refresh rates as high as 250 Hz. Conversely, there are people with eyes that can handle refresh rates as high as 120 Hz! This is mainly because the visual system is now capable of processing light and also moving images. Technically the human eye has trouble identifying differences between flashes that are produced in less than 10 milliseconds.

But, if the object is special and specific, it is capable of recognizing it. In fact, the eye is capable of spotting artifacts that are shown as 500 frames per second too! Doesn’t this sound amazing?

Well, these are interesting facts that make the question on what refresh rate is good for the eye even more challenging!


How We Perceive Motions?

The best refresh rate for your eye depends on how you see motion. When you remain idle and watch moving object in front of you, a different kind of signal reaches the brain.

This signal is different from what the brain sees when you are walking along with the object. The center of your vision goes to different places in both these situations. The vision’s middle part (foveal region) that is the most detailed and biggest region doesn’t do anything in collecting motion.

Thus, when you watch the television screen from a single spot, the refresh rate wouldn’t matter the eye. But, when you are moving the peripheral vision becomes active. It updates at a rapid rate. Sometimes, the peripheral vision updates at a rate higher than 60 Hz.

This is why people are more sensitive when they are moving from one place to another. Thus, if you are going to watch the television in motion, you may need a better refresh rate!

This is why gamers (who are going to be in action) are advised to pick televisions with better refresh rates. It is worth because car races and shooting games can get you physically engaged. The moment you start moving around, the eye starts capturing things at a faster rate.

What Can the Eye See?

With all this being said about the human eye, let’s dig into the figures directly. Undeniably, a television with a refresh rate of 60 Hz is much better than the ones with lower frame rates. In motion, the human eye can perceive light sources that flicker at 60 frames per second. The number could be more than 60 Hz! However, the actual figure is still unclear. The upper limit could be 120 Hz or even 180 Hz. Science is yet to reveal the actual number.

The moment a television’s refresh rate goes beyond 200 frames per second, it will appear like real-life movements.

Most people can detect smooth changes on the television at around 90 frames per second. Only an aficionado can go deeper down and spot the tiny details. But, for most of the viewers, it is like white wine is white wine all the time!

Research has revealed that the optimal temporary frequency of the human eye is between 7 and 14 Hz. Beyond this the eye’s sensitivity to movement comes down.

And, the brain is able to handle between 7 and 14 images every second for a smooth flow.

Though the best refresh rate for the brain is 60 Hz, it doesn’t mean a better television with a higher refresh rate cannot improve your gaming experience! Science is still finding an answer to this question.