Liquid crystal display (LCD) display backlighting systems are commonly designed for portable devices and observation with the unaided eye. This paper addresses technical issues to providing a low profile, high brightness LCD backlight for a visual system such as a helmet mounted display. A parametric approach is developed and illustrated, but limits consideration to monochromatic light-emitting diode light sources. The analysis is based on first order optical considerations, and considers both spatial and angular uniformity of illumination. The conditions imposed by the application are also considered, that is, an LCD viewed under magnification by the human eye.