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Daniel Cassady

Coding with Caution: 7 Ways to Protect Your Eyesight

Mar 02 2011, 11:25 AM by

You’re a few hundred lines short of code and your deadline is approaching faster than you can say "analytics." You’re retouching a photo for the 20th time because your client can’t decide if he prefers the logo with or without the lightning bolt. It’s late at night and you’re slogging through invoices, your face three inches from the monitor.

We’ve all been there and unfortunately, so have our eyes. If you’ve ever had pounding headaches, blurred vision and neck pain, it’s not from that ill-advised trip to Burning Man, it’s Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), an unfortunate byproduct of working with code. Whether email marketing, HTML coding or just typing in the office, how do you prevent this painful and annoying problem? Follow these seven tips to preserve your vision, body and maybe even a bit of sanity.
Clean Your Monitor
This may sound elementary but it really makes a difference. At the start of your workday, before you write a single line of code, make sure your screen is as clean as a whistle.

Dust, fingerprints and random smudges can be hard to spot, mostly because you’re probably used to them being there. But if you don’t clean that screen, you’re putting unnecessary strain on your eyes by forcing them to cut through all that goo.
Sit Up, Don’t Slouch
Another easy way to take care of your peepers? Pay attention to your body. Your screen should be 20 to 24 inches from your eyes and the center of your screen 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes. This position should keep your head and neck comfy during those long hours of work.
Increase Contrast, Decrease Brightness
Most of us have the brightness on our screens cranked all the way up, and it’s a common misconception that a bright screen will help you stay awake if you get sleepy. But the unfortunate part is if your screen is more lamp than monitor, you’re doing damage to your retinas.

Having your screen too dark is equally as bad as having it too bright. On that note, make sure to up the contrast of your monitor so it’s easier to distinguish letters and numbers. And, oh yeah, kick up that font size while you’re at it.
Light Up the Room
Whether you work in a stuffy office or in the comfort of your own home, the way your workspace is lit is of utmost importance. Off the bat, avoid harsh, bright lights if you can, use bulbs of a lower wattage and use lamps whenever possible. If you get most of your light from the sun, lower the blinds and set your desk so that windows are on either side of you rather than behind or in front of you.
Blink More Often
This may sound silly, but studies show that people who work in front of computers blink up to five times less than normal. Blinking keeps the eyes moist and prevents fatigue and doing it more often is especially important when working in drafty environments.
Use the 20-20-20 Rule
Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and focus on something 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. If you’re locked in a windowless dungeon with no chance of escape, visualize an object 20 feet away and focus on it. This easy to remember trick will lessen the stress on the focusing muscles in your eyes and reduce your risk of strain (and possibly glasses).
Take a Break
Your boss may not want you to know this, but it is in your best interest to take a break every now and again. NIOSH (The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) suggests at least four five-minute breaks and two 15-minute breaks every day. These little breathers will increase your output in the long run, killing the stress, fatigue and eye strain that accompany constant and often time-sensitive computer work.

Most people find that their vision falters at some point in their life, but working in front of a monitor can certainly speed up the process. You may not be able to stave off the deterioration of your eyesight permanently, but using these tips can certainly help you delay it.

Posted in Tips & Resources

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