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Sarthak Sharma
Sarthak Sharma

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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.

Top comments (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

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

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

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

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

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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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

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

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

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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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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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

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

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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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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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

sarthology image
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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

Thanks man 😊

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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

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

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

And there you go

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ralcr profile image
Cristian Baluta • Edited

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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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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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

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

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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

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

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