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The definitive guide of software engineers for eye care

fabianrod profile image Fabián Rodríguez ・5 min read

One of the troubles more undervalued in the life of a software engineer is the eyes care. The long days of work from 8 to more than 12 hours where our eyes are exposed to multiple displays deteriorate eyesight, and the LED and LCD displays that we use commonly, provoke cases of Computer Vision Syndrome, and not only that, there are studies reporting that work productivity may be diminished and generate costs to a company around of $741 USD per person in a year [1].

The discomfort and symptoms can be different: burning eyes, severe eye pain, photophobia, red eyes, among others… and although there is not a definitive cure, there are ways to reduce considerably the symptoms. This article is about that, it's a guide that will try be integral in the practices that software engineers can follow (also people of another industry) to don't affect their professions and to have better visual health.

Use an e-ink monitor

If you ever used an Amazon Kindle, this kind of display will have you notice the difference and reduce considerably the majority of the symptoms of eye fatigue. This is so because this type of display it's similar to paper, therefore don't emit any light, and not only that, a study was done by researchers from the University of París, argues that LCD displays are more harmful and to have a more negative impact on the eyes than e-ink displays [2].

How works E-ink
Diagram about how e-ink works. Image via Organic user Interfaces

Where you can acquire an e-ink monitor? this is the real trouble; although this technology is extended since many years ago, it has not been very popular in the building of displays. By now, the best company to acquire one of these e-ink monitors is Dasung Tech, they have headquarters in Beijing and they are since 2014 building their products (and doing campaigns on IndieGoGo with successful), and at the time of write this article, they have the third version of it monitor (which have a cost of $1000 USD).

My advice is ever to use this kind of monitor, even more than Eye Care Monitors, as they are ideal for programming, writing and reading by a long time.

Avoid reflections (What you need to know about Eye Care Monitors)

One of the disadvantages of the majority of displays today is that some of their parts are built with materials that reflect light; and keep in mind this at the time to use a monitor is important because screen glare causes eyes to have to do more effort to focus, causing headaches after work.

Eye Care Monitors has been a trend in the last years, of which, big companies like BenQ and Asus are behind this. The main advantages that these companies argue about these monitors are:

  • Flicker Free: Is the constant flicker that screen perform at the time to refresh, this stresses eyes.
  • Low Blue Light: It is assumed that within of light spectrum that screens emit is the blue light, that is widely perceived by the eye human and can be harmful.

How Flicker-Free technology works
How Flicker-Free technology works Extracted from the Asus website (https://www.asus.com/us/Monitors/VN289QR/ProductPrint/)

What is the primordial thing if you choose to buy an Eye-Care Monitor? choose matte screens, since they avoid reflections on the screen, on the other hand, glossy screens despite show us better colors, they reflect lights and other objects that will do our eyes get tired. Anyway, the best is to opt by an e-ink monitor if colors are not a trouble and you want to keep your visual health in the best state.

Dry eyes: about the importance to use ophthalmic drops (even if you believe that you don't need)

Nowadays there are several studies that argue that when we use any screens, our flicker frequency decrease [3], this cause that tears on the surface of the eye, dry quickly, causing irritation and in some cases, headaches and other discomforts.

It's therefore that even if an ophthalmologist has not medicated you ophthalmic drops, you can use some generics, but you will need to try, and choose eye drops without preservatives, as those with preservatives, can hurt the surface of the eyes.

For more serious cases of dry eye, some ophthalmologists recommend combined doses of eye drops with thick consistency, similar to oil or gel (The company Systane has a line of products with this kind of products) but no doubt, the best choice is to go with an ophthalmologist to check which is better in your own case.

Perform active breaks to flicker

It seems obvious but in some companies, this never is applied. It's so a study directed by the researcher Susan Randolph, of the University of North Carolina, that was done in 2017, argue that prolonged exposure to displays, predisposes to Computer Vision Syndrome [4].

The researcher recommends at least every 2 hours, perform active breaks of 15 minutes to rest eyesight.

Other important recommendations...

  • The suitable light is really important, a bright screen over a room in total darkness is not a good idea.

  • Use sunglasses and an umbrella ever that you can on sunny days, this will avoid that symptoms of photophobia don't disturb you throughout the day.

  • If you like to read, ever use physical books or an Amazon Kindle instead of a LED monitor.

  • Use glasses with the correct prescription (with the help of your optometrist).

  • You can consume Omega-3. Some studies argue that their consumption can increase the ocular secretions [5], enhancing exponentially the symptoms of dry eye.

  • Avoid using displays of your computer, tablet or smartphone overnight. Rest your eyes as much as you can.

Final words…

A lot of software engineers and programmers, ignore the worth of their visual healthy, but, if we really have a passion about we do, to follow these bits of advice will do that we can get a fuller life doing what more we love, writing code...

This article was originally written in Spanish on LinkedIn

References

[1] Impact of dry eye in work productivity.
[2] E-Readers and Visual Fatigue
[3] Blink rate, blink amplitude and tear film integrity during dynamic visual display terminal tasks.
[4] Computer Vision Syndrome.
[5] Topical Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for treatment of the dry eye.

Discussion (1)

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marcusxavierr profile image
Marcus Xavier

Which Eye Care Monitors would you recommend?