Unless you’re taking the proper steps to protect yourself, you’re hurting your eyes just by reading this article. Indeed, the bluish light pouring out of your screen has several adverse effects. It strains your eyes, keeps you awake at night thanks to its role in inhibiting melatonin production, and increases your risk of acquiring certain diseases. What can you do to protect yourself from the glowing flat panels that seem to dominate our modern lives? Read on …
1. Get your eyes checked to see what damage has already been done.
Of course, you’ll want to see how much damage you’ve already done to your eyes first, or else all of these other precautions won’t really help you much. If your eyes have already been adversely affected by a computer screen, an eye exam might allow your doctor to figure out any issues and fix them before they get worse.
2. Throw out your old CRT displays to reduce flicker.
Your ancient CRT monitor is a thing of the distant past. Not only are they bulky and unsightly, but they are more prone to annoying flickering and are generally lower resolution than LCD displays, both of which are detrimental to your eyes’ health. I suggest checking out a website like newegg.com, as they often have great deals on monitors, and, unlike Amazon, reviews are done mostly by tech geeks so you know what you’re getting is good. Always go with the largest screen with the best resolution you can afford.
3. Buy matte screens when possible to get rid of screen reflections.
Many displays have reflective surfaces. If you want to protect your eyes, the less glare the better, and that means matte (non-reflective) screens are the way to go. If you do have a reflective screen, try editing its brightness and contrast settings, or closing window shades and turning off lights in your room to ensure that unnecessary photons aren’t being beamed straight into your retinas.
4. Use LCD wipes to clean the grime off your screen.
A dirty screen will only make it harder to see what you need to see, and furthermore it can add to the amount of glare you’re experiencing as well. LCD wipes will get rid of the smudges, dust, and other imperfections that can distract your eyes from the content on the screen.
5. Keep screens at least an arm’s length away to reduce eye strain.
First, do what’s called the “high-five test.” If you can’t extend your arm fully without knocking your screen over, then you’re sitting too close to your screen. Keeping your panel at arm’s length and a bit below eye-level will ensure a proper viewing experience.
6. Blink to keep your eyes from drying out.
People tend to forget about blinking while entranced by the bright light of an LCD screen. The last thing you need is dry eyes on top of all of the other irritation caused by prolonged computer use.
7. Taking a break gives your eyes a chance to recover.
There’s this thing known as the 20-20-20 Rule. Every 20 minutes, look way for your screen and focus your gaze on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. That will sort of reset your vision, reducing the strain caused by staring at your screen for hours on end.
Additionally, there’s a nifty little web application called “Protect Your Vision” that will allow you to keep track of exactly when you should be resting your eyes, you can find here. Using it should be pretty straightforward, but in case you need further assistance, this page has thorough instructions.
8. Anti-glare glasses eradicate harmful blue light.
As I type this I’m wearing a pair of anti-glare glasses. They aren’t the most stylish accessories ever, but their yellow-tinged lenses do a great job of cutting down the glare and blue light of most LCD screens. I notice a clear difference when wearing mine; without them, there’s always a slight glow emanating from the edges of screens, with them, that aura disappears and everything appears far more matte, almost e-ink-esque.
9. Alternate fonts reduce blurriness.
Fonts like Times New Roman can be hard to read, what with all of its fancy serif-infused letters. Other fonts, like Arial, are a bit less tiring to read because of their more streamlined, no-frills nature.
10. Filters and dark backgrounds help reduce glare.
White backgrounds create a lot of glare, especially when you’re viewing them in a dark environment. You can use gray or other darker backgrounds instead, or wear the glasses cited in #8. Alternatively, you can buy an anti-glare filter, which is manually placed over your existing screen. These filters will cut down on glare, as their name would suggest, though your image quality might not be as good since you’re basically placing a mesh of sorts over your screen.
To close, I think the key point to take away here is that you should use your computer in moderation, and when that isn’t possible, try and utilize the above suggestions as best you can. Be sure to take advantage of these tips now so that you can maintain that 20/20 vision in the future!
Featured photo credit: Eye macro/ Micky** via flickr.com