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black_darkness

How do you deal with eye strain?

12 posts in this topic

I enjoy programming and working on my game for hours straight but my eyes just cant keep up. After about 2 hours I start misreading things and I cant focus my eyes without strain. After about 8 hours I no longer can even read the screen without being a matter of inches away from it. I have never had eye problems before I started programming. I think it may be the font but when I tried making it bigger it just made it harder for me to browse large numbers of lines of code.

 

 

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Do you wear corrective lenses? If yes, you may want to go get your prescription double checked; if no, you may want to go get your eyes checked and see if they would help you.

 

For years, I knew I couldn't see far away things, but thought I could see close up things just fine. I finally went to the eye doctor to get fitted for glasses a couple of years ago (I can't wear contacts because you blink less staring at a screen and my eyes dried out), and I was amazed that they helped with my near vision (I went to get them only for my far vision). I have astigmatisms in both eyes, and correcting these actually helped with both near and far vision. Despite the fact that I got them to help with my blurry far vision, I now wear them all the time because they help with my near vision too (which I never thought was a problem).

 

Almost two years later, I went back to the eye doctor and it turns out my prescription has changed a bit, and the right lens of my glasses is too strong of a correction. This explains why recently my eyes have felt strained and sometimes I'd get headaches.

 

Anyway, I suggest seeing an optometrist and just checking things out.

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You could try taking a break, going outside in the fresh air and relaxing, or exercising. You could also try exercising your eyes, by starring at different locations (without moving your head, your eyes actually need to move) and statically hold it in various locations for 10 or so seconds.

After all, you do blink less when you're starring at a computer screen for hours on end.

Edited by pinebanana
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I don't have the same problems you are describing, but yeah, it's important to take breaks if only for a few minutes. Rest your eyes and brain.
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This might not be relevant for you but I think I don't get eye strain because I tend to look at the keyboard when I type. My advice would be to give yourself reasons to move your eyes as much as possible. Maybe keep some artwork near by that you can look at in between thoughts (or just stare off into space). Manually program your mp3 playlist to only 6 or 7 songs. I suppose the majority of my suggestions would amount to introducing distractions that aren't so distracting as to derail your train of thought. And remember to blink.

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I enjoy programming and working on my game for hours straight but my eyes just cant keep up. After about 2 hours I start misreading things and I cant focus my eyes without strain. After about 8 hours I no longer can even read the screen without being a matter of inches away from it. I have never had eye problems before I started programming. I think it may be the font but when I tried making it bigger it just made it harder for me to browse large numbers of lines of code.

 

Have you considered that it's not the size of the font that is the problem, but rather the color and contrast of both the font and the background?

 

Personally I can barely work with the default white background/black text that comes with most IDEs. In Eclipse, for example, I use the "Recogneyes" theme.

 

A dark background and low contrast ratio between the background's color and the font's colors can really ease the strain on the eyes.

Edited by Pat Pat
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You can try f.lux, which tints your screen and makes it much easier on your eyes. It's ideal for long programming sessions. You could also try changing the colors of your IDE to be darker. I'm not sure what IDE you're using, but IntelliJ's dark theme is really easy on the eyes. Maybe you could configure your IDE to look like it.

http://i.imgur.com/PlY2X.png
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Get up, put on your headphones and go for a walk for an hour. Give your eyes a rest, and prevent yourself from becoming a 300 pound hippo at the same time. smile.png

Spending more time at your computers won't help you program or design better. I solve most of my problems while far away from the PC. I debugged something in my head the other day while on a bus listening to Van Halen. Then when I got home I took 5 minutes to retype out the new design I came up with, hit compile, and moved on to something else.
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Do you wear corrective lenses? If yes, you may want to go get your prescription double checked; if no, you may want to go get your eyes checked and see if they would help you.

 

For years, I knew I couldn't see far away things, but thought I could see close up things just fine. I finally went to the eye doctor to get fitted for glasses a couple of years ago (I can't wear contacts because you blink less staring at a screen and my eyes dried out), and I was amazed that they helped with my near vision (I went to get them only for my far vision). I have astigmatisms in both eyes, and correcting these actually helped with both near and far vision. Despite the fact that I got them to help with my blurry far vision, I now wear them all the time because they help with my near vision too (which I never thought was a problem).

 

Almost two years later, I went back to the eye doctor and it turns out my prescription has changed a bit, and the right lens of my glasses is too strong of a correction. This explains why recently my eyes have felt strained and sometimes I'd get headaches.

 

Anyway, I suggest seeing an optometrist and just checking things out.

This.  My near/far vision is good enough that I can do most things without glasses, so I never had them, even though I knew I had astigmatisms in both eyes from the big halos and spikes of light I see around street lights and car lights at night.  But reading my computer screen got to be more and more straining and started giving me headaches, until I finally went this year and got some computer glasses.  Now I find looking at the computer comfortable for a lot longer.

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Yes, make the font reasonably sized.  If you need to see too much code on the screen it means you've got either a bad design or a poor implementation.

 

Make sure your lines are of reasonable horizontal length:  about 80 characters in a reasonably-size font of a fixed-width typeface is long enough.  About a thousand years of research has shown that about 3 inches (7 cm) is about the ideal horizontal line length for readability and the elimination of eye strain when reading the printed word.  Your eye are no different.  Many coding standards eschew this wisdom in favour of cramming more code on the screen to accommodate the bad design or implementation, at the cost of diminished readability and increased physical and mental strain on behalf of the reader.

 

Make sure your code has enough vertical whitespace.  You will notice when reading printed matter that paragraphs are often separated by a leading of 1 or 1.5 lines.  This gives a physical pause between the visual scan of conceptually related ideas, which is not only restful for your eye muscles but aids in readability and understanding of your code.  Many coding standards eschew this wisdom in favour of cramming more code on the screen to accommodate the bad design or implementation, at the cost of diminished readability and increased physical and mental strain on behalf of the reader.

 

As mentioned above, adjust the contrast of your monitor.  A typical computer monitor display really really crappy text and you're going to fatigue sooner or later, but a monitor at eye level and the right distance from your face, with appropriate ambient lighting and contrast, can make a dent.  Really, the only solution to the crap display problem is to get a nice 24" monitor with 600 dpi minimum.  Best of luck with that in the next few decades.

 

Most of all, programming should not involve long periods of time staring at a crummy display and reading poorly laid-out text.  As advised above, take breaks from typing to, for example, design, think, walk, get exercise, eat properly, nap.  Also, look up from your monitor at least once an hour and focus on something farther away, like the view out your window or the panel wall on the other side of your parent's finished basement.

 

These are all bits if wisdom gathered over many years.  If you're young, do ignore them and invent your own solution. They'll be there return to when you need something that works.

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As been said taking a break is probably the best bet. Back at my gaming company we would make it a point to get lunch outside so that we could get out of the building, walk a bit, get a break from staring at the screen. Nowadays when I freelance I tend to break apart my day by going for a grocery run or a bike ride. It really makes a difference.
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I have astigmatism in both eys also, and getting glasses is amazing. Everything looks cleaner, and I found myself looking at everyday scenes differently. (Now it's getting "cheesy" :))
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