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Sarthak Sharma
Sarthak Sharma

Posted on • Updated on

The Definitive Guide To Protecting Your Eyes For Developers👀

Around this time 2 years ago, I was working day and night with my team to release a product. We used to sit more than 12 hours in front of a screen. The whole thing was quite exciting for us. But when you are young, you often neglect your health to seek thrill. Doing Hackathons was a hell of a thrill for sure, but we forget one thing: that working long hours staring at a display can harm our eyes, and it did. Two of us got prescription glasses within weeks. 🤓

It was a lesson learned the hard way.

When I first found out about my deteriorating eyesight, I started to freak out big time. I immediately started looking for information that would help me keep my eyes healthy. I made a few changes to my life and voila! My eyesight actually improved, and now I don’t even need to wear the glasses that often.

That was quite an eye-opening experience for me, pun slightly intended. So let me share with you what I learned. 🏃🏻‍♂️

Change your workspace 👨🏻‍💻

This is generally the most overlooked factor, and that’s why I’m discussing this first. We all know how to adjust our screens according to our eyes so I’m gonna skip that, but if you still wanna know more about it, read here. The second and most important thing is the lighting. Try to position your screen in a manner that a window is either on your right or left to avoid that glare you get on screen. If you are using an artificial light source in your workspace, prefer over-head lighting. Don’t use extra bright lights that can put stress on your eyes. I personally prefer warm lights over white lights.

workspace

A quick exercise to do 🏋🏻‍♂️

You might have heard of the golden 20–20–20 rule. It goes something like this.

“Every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.”

It’s what your doctor might tell you to do. And yeah, it works… sorta. If you know how far 20 feet actually is, and you don’t find it too boring. But honestly, it doesn’t work for me and a lot of other people, I’m sure. I tried it and failed miserably. So here are some easy and fun exercises I personally follow and recommend that can be equally helpful.

Bounce the ball on the wall 🎾

Bounce the Ball

As simple as it sounds. Just take a sponge ball (so that you don’t destroy your surrounding) and hit the wall. Try to focus on the ball while doing it. This will help your eyes move around and focus on different distances as the ball travels. It’s also very relaxing, almost meditative. You can also play darts 🎯 if you’d like. That helps too.

The water massage 💦

Water

Whenever you go to the loo, just try and clean your eyes with cold water by splashing some on your face, and give your eyes a little massage. This will relax your eyes and remove any dryness that might have set in. Don’t try to massage your eyes without washing them with water first, as that can damage eyes. Give it a try and you will thank me.🙃

Using these apps📱

We techie can’t help talking about some apps. These apps will help you directly or indirectly to save your eyes.

Aware/Awareness ⏱

Aware is a small menubar widget for mac that will show you how much time you’ve spent on your laptop without a break. So that you can be Aware, as the name suggests, and give your eyes (and your body!) a break every once in a while.

Awareness does more or less the same thing but it’s also available for Windows.

f.lux 🌅

f.lux is a very popular software that reduces the blue light rays coming from your screen. It automatically adjusts the colors of your screen according to the time of the day. Too much blue light after sunset can alter your sleep cycle (by tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime) and increase eye problems too. flux fixes that for you. If you’re a designer who wants accurate color reproduction at all times, this might be a bit of a problem for you. but otherwise, it’s a great tool.

And this is a great time to shout out to fellow developers. If you guys have any ideas of an app to help eyes, I’m up for collaboration. DM me @twitter

Diet is super important 👩🏻‍🍳

My mother says what you eat is what you become. Well, that’s true in this case as well. There are some dietary changes you’ll need to make as well.

The most important thing is water. If you stay dehydrated for long, that can lead to eye dryness and that further leads to eye strain. Drink at least 2–3 liters of water every day and that will not only help your eyes but your whole body.
Including these following foods in your diet can also improve your eyesight, and you may also get rid of those spectacles like I did.

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Grapefruit
  • Strawberries
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Oranges
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds

Other than this, try to include lots of green veggies and protein-rich food in your diet. This is tried and tested advice, and also worked really well for me.

STOP USING THAT DAMN PHONE ALL THE TIME 📲

Work is important, I get that. But smartphones are ruining our eyes, much more than computer screens in most cases. Staying in bed for hours staring at those tiny screens, it’s gotta stop. Like I’ve already mentioned, the blue light from your phones confuses your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, and that disturbs your sleep cycle. So use your phone only when necessary, especially during the night, and when you do, turn on some sort of blue light filter. Most new phones come with an inbuilt feature for this.

Conclusion

In the end, try to go for a monthly eye checkup if you can. It’ll give you an idea about whether these tweaks you’ve made to your lifestyle are working. Get those glasses changed if necessary; using the wrong power can further harm your eyesight. And even if/when your eyes are fully healed, make a habit of using Blue-cut glasses.
Your eyes are arguably your most important asset, and believe me, you can’t afford to lose them. Precaution is always better than the cure, and these tweaks won’t take much of your time but can help you massively in the long term.

If I missed something, feel free to share that in the comment section. If you liked my post, share it with your friends and help them save their eyes as well.

Btw I'm on Medium as well. Check it out here.

Discussion (121)

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dance2die profile image
Sung M. Kim

Thank you for the article, Sarthak.

I've been wearing glasses since young and gotten worse little by little so decided to pick up one easy habit to start with (stare 20 feet away for 20 seconds).

And I also have a question.
Would glasses with blue-light protection help one to look at screen longer period of time? Or would it be just for a protective measure?

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guneyozsan profile image
Guney Ozsan

I started blue filter glasses 6 months ago. I can say it is by far the best investment for your profession than any book, education or hardware. Unfortunately the amount of time you spent on screen is determined mostly by the amount of work, rather than personal choices. So go for it.

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scottishross profile image
Ross Henderson

I have the blue-light protection on my glasses and I HIGHLY recommend it. It is not a replacement to taking care of your eyes, but they certainly reduce eye strain. Couple that with good eyecare practice and you should have no eye-pain at all.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

I'm not an expert, but I don't think so. As when you start looking on a screen more than usual, your eyes muscles become weak because our eyes are designed to look farther. So the special glass won't help.

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dance2die profile image
Sung M. Kim

Thanks 👍

And I will ask an ophthalmologist (scheduled early next month) regarding blue light glasses to be sure 🙂

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

And please let us know 😊

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dance2die profile image
Sung M. Kim

Sure thing 🙂

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ashwinv11 profile image
Ashwin Vaswani

I can only speak from experience, but since I've got my blue-light glasses I've noticed my eyes feel less tired and dry at the end of the day!

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gurprit profile image
Gurprit

When I broked my blue light glasses. I went to a nearby shop to get that fixed and the guy used a blue light radiation torch to determine if I was using a blue cut glass. And I was amazed with what I saw. That guys turned on the torch and pointed the blue light towards a paper and when he placed my glass between the paper and the torch magic happened . All the blue light from the torch was absorbed by my glasses and there was zero light on the paper

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Did you go to Lenskart? 😂

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gurprit profile image
Gurprit

Nope. I used Lenskart in the past but I have stopped using there glasses

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

They use to show like that 😃

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gurprit profile image
Gurprit

Hahaha nooo, I was not at lenskart's store

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nmacd85 profile image
Nicole H

I asked my optometrist about them and she said there wasn’t enough time for research to determine if blue light lenses would be effective or not.

Personally I have not got them but more curious now.

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crenshaw_dev profile image
Michael Crenshaw

Had a checkup yesterday, and the astigmatism in one eye is worsening (still not bad enough to require glasses). My optometrist recommended blue filtering glasses, but made no definitive statements about their effectiveness, research- or colloquially-supported.

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fabiopintodacosta profile image
fabiopintodacosta • Edited on

I use the blue filters and I can only but recommend them. I used to have headaches that were traced to the time I spent daily looking at my laptop's strong lights. Those are gone now.

Got my gimmicks (Apple's Mac, iPad and iPhone) all set to turn on night shift from 19:00, by the way. Helps relaxing the usual strain, very relaxing.

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dance2die profile image
Sung M. Kim

Thank you for sharing the experience.
As I was shopping for glasses online, it seem like vendors charge extra for blue filter coating but sounds like it's quite worth it.

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mattdevio profile image
Matt G

The new mac os just added a blue light filter like flux. You can find it under...

settings > display > night shift

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kurisutofu profile image
kurisutofu

In windows 10, there is "Night light" which does the same.

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shalvah profile image
Shalvah

Android (8, I think) now has it too. Otherwise you can use CF.lumen.

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drbragg profile image
Drew Bragg

This is also available on Chrome OS!

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Thanks for the intel man. Great Find ☺️

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adasomg profile image
Adaś

One trick that isn't often mentioned is to just turn down your display brightness. At first it will seem like everything is less clear, but pretty quickly your eyes habituate and it seems the same. I went from "100" to as low as "30". Less true for laptops though.

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gerbrandvd profile image
Gerbrand van Dieyen

Good trick, had forgot about it, and just checked my display's brightness. It was still at 80%.
Another tip, if you're developer or otherwise entering a lot of text: change your color-schema, instead of the default use a dark color schema: black/dark background and bright letters.

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nmacd85 profile image
Nicole H

Yes! Every new laptop or monitor Night shift is on and brightness is down. I don’t know how half my company functions with full brightness.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Yeah, I have tried that one too specifically in case of mobile devices.

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david_j_eddy profile image
David J Eddy

The combo of f.lux, no phones in bed, and diet saved my eyes. Great article Sarthak. This topic really needs more visibility in the dev. community. Personal health is just as important as deadlines and nerd cred.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Exactly. Glad you liked it. 😊

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

I'm not so sure about this. Eating and drinking "well" may help slow down eyesight degeneration from factors such as vitamin deficiencies (I am not a doctor) but I can't imagine any but exceptional circumstances where they would repair damage or reverse a genetic trait, which is what you seem to be suggesting.

Two of us got prescription glasses within weeks

Was that perhaps because you were more aware of your eyesight after taking a job where small problems became more noticeable?

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

reverse a genetic trait

Well, I never said that I'm sure 😃.

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

I'm saying that the tendency to common eye problems such as myopia, glaucoma and so on is genetic, isn't it?

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Well, of course, these tips are not for these cases, man. One needs a doctor if one got this not a ball on the wall 😃

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jenbutondevto profile image
Jen

People generally tend to blink less when looking at a computer screen, as low as 3 times a minute as opposed to 15-20 times a minute otherwise. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ when you're deep into some code, it's difficult to remember to blink, seeing as we never have to think about it away from the computer.

As per the vast majority of developers.. it's dark IDE all the way. I've also started to use dark reader for my browsers and darkify-ed my slack. Dark themes generally help with strain and the environment light/dark contrast. Also I believe light text on dark backgrounds is easier to read.

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mariocd10 profile image
Mario DeLaPaz

I started feeling the affects of so much screen time that my eyes felt dry and tired at the end of the day. I installed flux and purchased the glasses that block blue-light to help. I've felt the difference so far and glad this topic is being discussed! great article!

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Thanks Mario 😊

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scrabill profile image
Shannon Crabill

I also invested in blue-light/UX blocker lens and the difference has been life-changing. I wish I knew these were an option earlier.

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biros profile image
Boris Jamot ✊ /

2-3 liters of water every day? Hum...
The body needs 1.5 per day and a part of it comes from what we eat.
I guess it's more around 1 liter per day.
Drinking too much can have negative impacts on your body.

Apart from that, good article, thanks!

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mathiu profile image
Mathiu

Drinking too much can have negative impacts on your body.

Out of curiosity, is that actually true? any examples?

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oscherler profile image
Olivier “Ölbaum” Scherler

Do you mean, apart from the fact that it’s the definition of “too much”? ;-)

I have to search for it, but I read an interesting article about how all that “drink a lot” propaganda has been artificially inflated in the past few years.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

2 liters is recommended by the doctors. If you workout more that number can stretch up to 3 or even 4. It also depends on the area where you live actually. I'm from India, 2-3l is quite normal here. 😀

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

I don't think there is an agreed amount of water per day recommended by doctors. For one thing it will vary quite a lot depending on the climate.

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johnnyxbell profile image
Johnny Bell

Going to checkout aware, thanks man, great read.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Thanks man 😊

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johnnyxbell profile image
Johnny Bell

This app is not on the US app store :(

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

VPN?!

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johnnyxbell profile image
Johnny Bell

I'd need a VPN and a apple account linked to another country where the app is available :(

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johnnyxbell profile image
Johnny Bell
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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

And there you go

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daniel88ftw profile image
Daniel

Very useful, Sarthak, thanks!

I'd stress even more (simply because you can't stress it too much) - to get ENOUGH SLEEP.

"Enough" is not a number, every body has different demands. Enough is when you go to sleep and wake up by yourself without any alarms. Also sleeping when it's dark is crucial, there have been studies proving that. So go to sleep early if you can't get enough in the morning.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Yeah, That reminds of 90-minute sleep cycle rule. Do check it out.

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ralcr profile image
Cristian Baluta • Edited on

Not quite a definitive guide but a nice read. The biggest problem is that a screen keeps your eyes locked and their natural state is continuous movement. If you. start wearing glasses they'll be locked even more and slowly you'll need bigger prescriptions. Because looking away is a hard thing i made the Blinkk app for mac to remind and give suggestions with things to do from time to time itunes.apple.com/ro/app/blinkk/id1...

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samaldis profile image
UKJP

I lived in japan and if 日本人このsnsで、これZ!が変ですね、痛いから、でもさ、目が本当にリフレッシュして、でもさ🙊🙊おながいします😉。(sorry if i made very little sense and was informal, i'm out of practice and i was only there a year) but I have found these eye drops are a life saver, so much that when my wife could come over with my daughter last (live in the uk, really not the best place to be in an international marriage at a time were already becoming super stupid with nationalism and messing up everything while were at it) I asked her to bring me some, now I had my eyes checked only a year ago and in the las ~17 years of programming I have retained 20/20 vision but i'm self employed and my "agile sprints turn into 3 days no sleep to get just this one more thing done" and I find they ease the eyes after long hours. I am changing this as I can tell I'm burning myself out but have an amount I have to earn to be able to even apply for my wifes visa and its more than what 50-60% of the uk earn. I'd love some advice on getting optimal performance while not sacrificing my two remaining brain cells if you can help

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thejessleigh profile image
jess unrein

Quick PSA about grapefruit! It’s delicious and nutritious, but also has a bunch of weird medication interactions and messes with how the body breaks down estrogen. If you take medication or have chronic health concerns, do some research and talk to your doctor before deciding to increase your grapefruit intake.

I know this sounds like I’m joking. I’m actually not. Read more here.

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janphkoch profile image
Jan-Philipp

Thank you for the article!

To add something here:

If you need glasses anyway: they are glasses that slightly filter blue light. I´ve got some and it helps on darker environments (my office sadly has a bad light setup)

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Thanks man 😊

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meesrutten profile image
Mees Rutten

Recently I bought glasses with blue-light filter glass. There are some studies about the effectiveness of those so they may be worth checking out!
I personally feel like my eyes are less tired after a day behind the computer :)

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sbellware profile image
Scott Bellware

Is this causation or correlation. Would those people who got prescription glasses have gotten them anyway? Was the incidence rate of need to use corrective lenses disproportionate to a larger, representative population sample?

Should we be providing prescriptive advice before establishing definitive cause? There's no doubt that being healthy is better than the alternative, but if we prescribe solution before knowing cause, we're just contributing to the rise of superstitions rather than scientific predispositions in software geek culture. And this is the very same predisposition that creates a breeding ground for the unhelpful fads that keep software development flitting from wild assertion to wild assertion.

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denisinvader profile image
Mikhail Panichev • Edited on

About one year ago I used a 17" Sony Vaio notebook and I used to get tired in the evenings. Then I started to use the workrave to take a scheduled rest and it helped. Then I switched to 13" MacBook. I was afraid that the screen is too small, but now I don't have this issue anymore even with much smaller fonts.

So I think that monitor is very important.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Interesting theory, Can you elaborate more ?

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denisinvader profile image
Mikhail Panichev

In my experience apple devices have better screens and my eyes and mind don't run out till the day. Earlier I couldn't work productively at home after the workday, but now I can work up to 20 hours a day (fortunately I do it very rarely). It's quite empirical theory and maybe the reason of run out is not the screen, but I think so

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Can't agree more.

* Apple fanboys *

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yassine profile image
Yassine AZZOUT

Thanks Sarthak,

I'mdel an early user of f.lux and I've just installed Aware. Awesome.

A next idea post could be to talk about hand, fingers and wrist 🖐️ 🖐🏾.

After more than 15y of keyboard and laptop usage, I adopted a vertical mouse to avoid wrist pain.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Great Suggestion Man. Next topic will be health for sure. 😊

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rajadigopula profile image
Raj Adigopula

Nice & useful post.

I use Break timer extension to remind myself to walk away every half hour. For screen dimming, I used f.lux before, but now I am using Iris pro version for it's extensive customization ability + other advanced features.

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samaldis profile image
UKJP

I wish i could say that worked for me, I had one in atom but I kept bypassing it because I had to finish just "this bit more" ever time 😅

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Will give them a try man. Thanks for the suggestion.

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patelakash317 profile image
Akash Patel

Hey, Thanks for sharing!
Here is the one more, which I would like to suggest for people who are working longer and especially who care for themselves.

SafeEyes - slgobinath.github.io/SafeEyes/
This protects your eyes from eye strain (asthenopia) by reminding to take breaks while you're working long hours at the computer.

It completely blocks the entire screen, so no options you have to take break, and that's how it works to force us to take care of ourself. Try it today.

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alicesos profile image
Alice-sos

Hi,

I hope to get your consent to translate and shared with Chinese developers, I will indicate the source and author.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Go on, That will be an honor. Do share the link with me. 😊

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alicesos profile image
Alice-sos

👌Thanks !

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alicesos profile image
Alice-sos

Chinese link:nextfe.com/protecting-eyes/ 《程序员的终极护眼秘诀》

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joshhadik profile image
Josh Hadik

This is SO important!

I used to live in a constant state of ‘dry eyes’ and it even got to a point where I would wake up in the middle of the night with a severe burning feeling in my eyes (to the point where I could barely even keep my eyes open.)

I’ve found that a combination of 1) having flux always on (set at 3200k) 2) wearing blue light glasses every time I use my computer and 3) taking small breaks whenever possible has completely fixed my dry eyes! Oh and I have night shift on on my phone at all times too.

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bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

Nice article, it goes into my bookmarks.

My eyes gave up after around 7 yrs of ..many hours of PC.

Nowadays I cannot spend more then a few hours without getting nausea and dry eyes, so I'm wearing Protection Glasses (anti blue/UV stuff) and they work.

I saw that most ppl take breaks from computers but they look into their phones :(.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Yeah, phones can make things worst.

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davefwalsh profile image
Dave Walsh

I recently picked up a pair of theraspecs wearover glasses which can be worn over your prescription specs. They are pure luxury for computer work although they do make you look like Elliott Gould's character in oceans eleven

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bradtaniguchi profile image
Brad

My only question is are carrots still good for your eyes too? When I think of good eye foods, I think of carrots. (and Bugs Bunny)

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david_j_eddy profile image
David J Eddy
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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Yeah, Carrots are. 😃

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derekkraan profile image
Derek Kraan

My work glasses are both filtering blue light and they are a slightly weaker prescription than my normal outside glasses.

How this works is, normally, when your eye muscles are relaxed, your eyes focus on things far away. Focusing on things close by requires your eye muscles to do work (this is called "accommodation"). The closer they are, the more work they have to do. And focusing on something at the same distance for long periods of time causes these eye muscles to become very tired. Slightly reducing the prescription of my computer glasses means that my eyes have to accommodate less while looking at my screen.

Between the blue light filter and the weakened prescription, my eye complaints have largely been solved. I will never work without these glasses again. Best €120 I ever spent.

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simoroshka profile image
Anna Simoroshka

Great idea with a ball!

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Thanks 😊 btw Dart is equally effective.

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simoroshka profile image
Anna Simoroshka

I am considering asking to get one to the office :)

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

We have one at our office, quite a stress buster. Go for it 👍🏻

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foresthoffman profile image
Forest Hoffman • Edited on

Oh man, I absolutely love f.lux! Been using it for years, and now i've got night shift on my mobile devices too! It's a definite eye saver.

And this is coming from someone with genetically terrible eyesight.

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marcorichetta profile image
Rich

Redshift is also a good alternative to f.lux!

Good post anyway!

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jaquino94 profile image
Justin

Love f.lux! Sadly the new OS X broke it for me where the darks/blacks would turn cyan; I'm aware that Macs have Night Shift mode now, but I prefer the customizability of f.lux.
Are there any alternatives that people could recommend?