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My 26 Years of Experience with Monitors
After a lot of years of staring at different kinds of screens, after spending dozens of hours a day online and witnessing the evolution of computer monitors, I have gathered a lot of experience with eye problems related to computers. A lot of YouTube videos that discuss eye strain issues are made by people who simply have not had massive experience, nor the problems designers and coders face with their eyes. It is not easy to understand people who spend more than 10 hours a day in front of a computer screen. So, these You-tubers spread wrong information, claiming that a lot of the precautions about preventing eye problems are myths. The difference is that I had 26 years to test them and I can tell you, they are not myths.
Low light conditions do damage the eyes (always keep the lights on in your computer room). Sitting too close to the computer screen does damage the eyes. Using low quality monitors with a lot of glare, backlight and brightness do damage the eyes. Using the computer excessively and without taking breaks, does damage the eyes.
CRT Monitors were Evil
I have abused my eyes to the maximum of their limit and know exactly how and why they get damaged from computer overuse. I have been playing computer games since I was 9 but it was only at the age of 20 when I spent my first 19 hours staring at a CRT monitor, thrilled by this new thing called the internet. I soon discovered that that CRT monitors, when used excessively can make your eyes pretty.. red and then you have to stop using the computer for a while to recover.
TFT Monitors are Good… when used on the “Light Side”
TFT monitors came to the market a couple of years later. So I did spent some considerable amount of time in front of CRT screens. When I got my first TFT I was incredibly relieved as I was already experiencing eye strain symptoms. In my experience CRT monitors were at least 10 times more damaging to the eyes than TFT screens are.
I spent a lot of years using a TFT monitor in the dark, mostly during the night, WITHOUT any other lights on. That was THE decisive mistake and back then, I may had heard that you can damage your eyes while reading or surfing the internet in the dark, but I didn’t really believe it. My vision had always been excellent and I couldn’t imagine that this could ever change.
“I will be back, and I will be a glare laptop dragon”
So the initial CRT inherited sensitivity, returned after a few years of surfing in the dark with a TFT. When I started keeping the lights on while I surf, the problem was almost gone. What took my eye problems to a whole new level was a laptop. It had a screen with glare, probably a cheap one which I used for about a year while lying down. This means that the screen was very close to the eyes. For the first time I developed astigmatism 0.70 due to using the particular laptop screen in the particular way. What is surprising is that when I stopped using the laptop, after a few months, the astigmatism just disappeared.
A Borg Eye?
From that incident though, the eye with the astigmatism became extremely sensitive to screens and lights. Whenever I would use the computer excessively, I would get burning pain. I started using the monitor without backlight and kept the brightness to zero. Whenever I would look at a cheap monitor, my eye would immediately hurt. It was as if I now had a quality detector in my eye that could instantly tell which monitors were of a good or bad quality. 😛
Another thing that worsens this situation are smartphones and tablet screens. I use them with zero brightness and even then, they cause a lot of trouble.
Coding and Photoshop – The Eyes’ nightmare
After pulling a couple of coding all-nighters last week, my eyes simply resigned. No matter what I did, they did not want to co-operate so it was impossible to continue coding.
The Incredible Gunnars
Searching for a solution online I discovered the Gunnars. Computer glasses that have crazy amounts of good reviews online. A lot of people use them and swear that they have reduced eye strain and computer vision syndrome. I wish I knew about these a couple of years ago! Eye strain problems arise especially during coding or designing. So Gunnars look like an incredible tool to protect the eyes, for gamers, coders and designers.
In a state of .. F.LUX
Before getting to order the Gunnars I discovered a program that actually does some of the things that Gunnars do. Someone had left a comment about it on a Gunnar video review and I quickly downloaded it. It reduces blue light and brings a warm color to the screen just as the Gunnars do. The program is called f.lux and it made possible for me to look at a screen again. I strongly recommend everyone to use f.lux! It made a big difference and I wish I knew about this many years ago. In the future I will test it against Gunnars and see which one is more effective. Linux users can try a similar open source program called Redshift.
Yogic Eye Exercises
Another thing that is helpful is yoga. I was once attending a yoga retreat where we were educated into yogic exercises for the eyes. While practicing them I felt an instant big change in one of the eyes, even just after one session. So yogic exercises may be a great help especially if one can practice them regularly.
Yoga and Physical Exercise reduces upper body strain/stress
Apart from yogic eye exercises, I have found that yogic exercises in general have an effect on the eyes and the area around the neck and shoulders that stores a lot of computer strain. While practicing yoga, I sometimes feel the heat and the stress being released from the eyes. This could also be true for any kind of physical activity that involves stretching and strengthening the upper body.
Shiatsu Face Massage
Shiatsu has a set of pressure points and massage techniques for the area of the eyes and around the eyes which is extremely effective in releasing computer related tension. I learned these from a book and noticed that a lot of people include them in their eye training programs, without mentioning that they originate from Shiatsu.
The 20/20/20 Rule
The 20/20/20 rule is a good set of instructions that is designed to exercise the focus of the eyes, to keep them relaxed and release some of the tension. This is something that can be achieved with the yogic eye exercises as well. If you want to apply this rule, every 20 minutes, you look at something which is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Don’t use CRT screens (they are now ancient and obsolete)
- Don’t use monitors in the dark. Don’t go to the dark side… Always keeps the lights on.
- Don’t use low quality monitors. Invest in good technology.
- If you need to spend a lot of time at the computer use Gunnars or f.lux. It’s best to do this before you start getting symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome.
- If you get Computer Vision Syndrome, regulate the time you spent using screens so as not to worsen the situation.
- Practice Yoga, yogic eye exercises or some other physical activity.
- Take a break from screens and monitors until the symptoms disappear.
The ancient Indian medicine (Ayurveda) has a very enlightening saying: “The essence of treatment is removal of cause.” As we are living in an era where we are all being screen sucked this may take some effort to achieve. But it is ultimately a direct route to healing.
I hope this article is going to be helpful for people who spend a lot of time at their computers and want to learn ways to protect their eyes. If you have something to add you can contact me.