Wednesday, September 11

Writing Tip: Combating Eye Strain

This week bebe got her first pair of glasses (she was born with an astigmatism in one eye) and I had my yearly eye check. In which my doc reminded me that computer screens are very hard on the eyes...and reminded me to use my eye drops throughout the day (something I forget. Too much). I've worn contacts since I was in junior high, so I should be used to his reminders and yet I find that I forget. But my eyes are important and I want to set a good example for bebe, so I'm renewing my eye-focus.

We all know about good ergonomics - set the computer screen at eye level, do not 'lean' the screen and clean the screens often to cut down on glare. We also know that we should use ergonomic chairs for our backs and that florescent lights are bad, bad very bad. Those rules all remain, but here are a few extras to keep in mind that are eye specific:

3. Don't forget to blink. Seriously. Yes, I know its a body function, something you don't have to think about to do. But think about it. Please. According to experts we actually blink less often when looking at digital screens – computer, ereader…even television. So during a commercial break or when you finish reading the 20th email or complete that chapter, blink. And then blink again. Ten times in a row, my eye doctor tells me, is a good start. Then go back to reading/watching/whatever.

2. Go up a size. No, it doesn't mean your eyes are fat. Not even close. This is more for those of us using tablets/smartphones often. Increase your font size and browser settings by one 'size' and instead of reading on that bright, white screen all the time, rest your brightness settings to about 60% (50% if you can). Why? Well, it saves a little battery life, but primarily because it is easier for your eyes to read on a slightly dimmer screen. Oh, and while your checking in on Facebook or reading those emails, put the viewing angle slightly below your eye level.

1. Employ 20-20-20 vision. Every 20 minutes step away from the computer for 20 seconds and look at something that is 20 feet away. When my eye doctor first told me about this, I set a timer to remind myself. Now it is a habit. Every 20 minutes I leave my desk and for 20 seconds I look at bebe's blanket hanging over the back of the sofa. Then I'll fold laundry or see if the dog needs to go out. In total I take about 5 minutes away. Those little breaks are whole-body good. Plus, sometimes I figure out a plot hole fix!

Remember, be kind to your eyes! Okay, readers, what computer tip do you have for us?


  1. Great tips. I do forget to blink.
    I wear glasses and the best investment I ever made was computer glasses. The rx combines my single vision rx with half of my reading rx, and reduces strain noticeably.

  2. that's wonderful, Penny! So glad you were able to do that. I go back and forth between my contacts and glasses, depending on how my eyes are feeling.

  3. Thanks for the tips, Kristi. I already do most of this, but forget to get up and leave the computer, rather than just looking somewhere else. It's hard to remember when I work on my laptop all day. lol I'll work on getting up now.

  4. great tips! glad you asked your eye doctor about this stuff because i've been wondering myself how to make it easier on the old peepers. Lately they are so dry and tired by the end of a workday! great post :)

    p.s. i blinked three times while typing this...on purpose, haha

  5. I recently started using my reading glasses at the computer. I couldn't for a long time because nothing was the right strength--although I knew the squint wasn't right, either. :-) I love the idea of computer glasses!

  6. I had to increase the fonts on WP to 175% to read this. lol. But once I got past that irony I thought it an excellent article. I only had 5 hours sleep last night and I'm really tired, my eyes are tired, and my brain...don't get me started. I need a nap. But I still can't see very well.

  7. Calisa, happy to offer a reminder!

    Tera, I'm always filled with questions - he probably wishes I'd just take my prescription and go, lol! If you wear contacts (my little plug) try Refresh ~ Contacts drops in addition to the looking away thing. Refresh also does a regular drop that isn't specific to contacts. They really help!

    LOL, Liza! So sorry about the font here. I keep enlarging it and the template keeps rejecting. Think I'll have RadioMan mess with the HTML one day soon. Hope you get your nap - and a better night's sleep tonight!

  8. Great advise, Kristi. I too stare at my computer for way too long and my eye doc says the same - to look away and close eyes for a few seconds.

  9. It's the simplest and best advice, Em, just to look away.