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Cover image for The Definitive Guide To Protecting Your Eyes For Developers👀

The Definitive Guide To Protecting Your Eyes For Developers👀

sarthology profile image Sarthak Sharma Updated on ・5 min read

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.

Posted on by:

sarthology profile

Sarthak Sharma

@sarthology

JavaScript Nerd👨🏻‍💻| Philosopher🧘🏻‍♂️ | Life Hacker🔧 | Health enthusiast🏋🏻‍♂️

Discussion

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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?

 

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.

 

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.

 

Thanks 👍

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

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!

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

Did you go to Lenskart? 😂

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

They use to show like that 😃

Hahaha nooo, I was not at lenskart's store

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

settings > display > night shift

 

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

 

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

 

This is also available on Chrome OS!

 

Thanks for the intel man. Great Find ☺️

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

Exactly. Glad you liked it. 😊

 

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?

 

reverse a genetic trait

Well, I never said that I'm sure 😃.

 

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

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 😃

 

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.

 

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!

 
 

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.

 

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!

 

Drinking too much can have negative impacts on your body.

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

 

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.

 

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. 😀

 

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.

 

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...

 

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 :)

 

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)

 
 

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.

 

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.

 

Interesting theory, Can you elaborate more ?

 

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

Can't agree more.

* Apple fanboys *

 

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
 

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.

 

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 😅

 

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

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

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

 
 

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.

 

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.

 
 

Thanks 😊 btw Dart is equally effective.

 

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

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

 

Hi,

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

 

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

 
 

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?

 

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)

 
 
 

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

 

ohh i was worried about that, thx for any advice.

another things to take care. Every one or two hours take a 10 minutes recess away from computer. Stretch your legs, walk.

Since I live near my job, I go and come back walking. So 30 minutes walking every day and now my eyes dont get tired, I dont have headache, I dont need my glasses until night.

 

they are if you are likely to be low in vitamin A but unfortunately they didn't let me see in the dark which I was promised they would my whole childhood.. maybe you need to put them in a smoothy for that 🧐

 

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.

 

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.

 

Redshift is also a good alternative to f.lux!

Good post anyway!

 

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 :(.

 

Yeah, phones can make things worst.