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Many of us stare at computer screens all day. Lately, my eyes have been irritated from prolonged staring at my computer screens. Does anyone use or know of any eye wear technology that helps with this? About five years back, I bought a pair of non-prescription eye glasses that had a no-glare layer put on them by an optometrist. It helped a lot, so I'm considering getting another pair. Is this the best option I have at this point?

Thanks so much in advance for your wisdom!

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closed as off topic by Sathya Dec 26 '11 at 9:07

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Please note that other things like room lightning, monitor type and settings, sun light, light positioning and such things also influence how much strain your eyes receive... –  Tom Wijsman Dec 26 '11 at 6:07
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9 Answers 9

up vote 8 down vote accepted

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Gunnar Optiks have gotten positive reviews.

An optometrist explains to Ars Technica why these are not just hype or placebo effect:

The tints are pretty standard in the optical community. The advantages stated are all true... they haven't reinvented the wheel, so to speak," she explains. The amber tint is going to increase contrast when looking at computer or television screens, and the anti-reflective coating will also help. Anderson says that should help you "get back 8-10 percent of the 12 percent of usable light that we lose to glare, when worn in front of a light-emitting source such as a computer or oncoming headlights.

Some testimonials from a thread on Hacker News:

I have a pair of Gunnar Optiks (http://www.gunnars.com/) that I LOVE.

I used to have ridiculous eye strain when staring at the computer screen for hours, but after getting a pair it's all but gone away... after using them for close to a year, I can honestly say they have made a great impact on my ability to do work. I'd highly recommend that anyone who hasn't and has issues with eye strain give them a try.

...

Agree on Gunnars - ever since I started using them (about 2 months ago) my eyes are not nearly as much tired at the end of the day as they used to be. Also, no more headaches.

I was also very skeptical about them, however something had to be done about all the pain I had after using computer for 8-10 hours.

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Fricking no-glare coating doesn't do much more than make the glasses impossible to clean. –  Satanicpuppy May 17 '10 at 16:51
    
If all you're looking for is the "no glare" polarization coating, the $2 3D glasses at theaters would work well enough. It's still not the main cause of eye strain, but whatever placebo works for ya... –  Chris S May 17 '10 at 19:55
    
@Chris S - I used glasses similar to the Gunnar Optiks about five years ago when I was programming for twelve hours a day and they made a significant difference. I had virtually no strain at all without having to adjust my monitor settings or lighting conditions. I encourage you to give these a try because your alternative solutions that you mentioned may have worked well ten years ago, but unfortunately they don't make any difference at all with today's monitors, and I've tried them all (except the CRT/LCD advice of course, since I haven't used a CRT in close to a decade). –  dr dork May 17 '10 at 22:56
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Polarized glasses help (what you probably had with the "non glare" coating). The best idea is to fix the "real" problem.

  • If you have a CRT, ditch it an get an LCD.
  • Set the resolution and/or DPI to a setting that doesn't cause eye strain.
  • Get an LCD that's big enough to fit everything you need on the screen.
  • The more indirect and natural the lighting in your workspace the better. Standard light bulbs that aren't frosted flicker at 60Hz; florescent do as well, but much less noticeably. Uniform brightness helps; also when looking at your screen you should not be able to see any light elements directly.
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The CRT/LCD advice is spot on. I sort of assume everybody is working with an LCD these days, but some aren't, and the flicker from CRT displays can cause eyestrain and headaches even if it doesn't appear to the user to be flickering. LCD technology is different, pixels are constantly backlit rather than phosphors that get refreshed many times per second, much better for the eyes. –  Herbert Sitz May 17 '10 at 15:57
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There's nothing really out there beyond anti-glare technology, but a lot of the strain doesn't come from the glare.

Your best bet is to take a 5-10 minute break every hour or two. Get up, talk to team members, get an answer in-person for something you normally would have written an email for, etc. These little breaks help significantly.

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I don't have any idea about the eyewear. If I had this sort of problem the first things I would do would be (1) turn down the brightness on the monitor, and (2) think about getting a larger monitor so text can be larger and easier to read. A large new monitor is cheap (say 22" for less than $200), while your health is priceless.

Also, as another poster said, definitely switch to LCD monitor if you're still using CRT.

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+1 for turning down brightness and even contrast to reasonable levels. Lost count of how many folks keep it at full, getting it down to reasonable levels dramatically reduces stress on eyes –  Sathya May 17 '10 at 16:27
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best way is to look anywhere else at every 15 minutes for a 30-60 seconds ..my father is a doctor ;) ...

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This is more of a software fix, but the effect that adjusts the colors of everything based on time of day, making it slightly easier on the eyes.

F.lux

enter image description here

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One of the most important things to do is just maintain the minimum brightness all the time! That will solve so many problems.
Next, is to use reading glasses or if you're severely myopic, a lower prescription. You want the screen to have just a slight blur at your working distance. Otherwise tack sharp images will result in eyestrain.
Read about natural vision improvement and it will be very logical. Our eyes are not designed for hours and hours of close work. Your eyes will adjust to that eventually and your distance vision will suffer. With reading glasses you use your distance vision to see the computer screen. Your eye muscles are relaxed when looking at distance. They have to tighten to see close. Using reading glasses for close work is called Plus Lens Therapy. Tons of websites talk about its advantages. A dollar store will supply you with the glasses. If you're myopic, get 2 identical pairs, 1 each for each eye as very few myopes have identical eye strengths. Pop out a lens in one and put it in the other so both eyes are focusing at the same distance. This is very important.

Never where distance vision glasses (if you're nearsighted) on the computer or for close work! That's the reason so many people's prescriptions get worse each time they get an eye exam. And get the minimum prescription for driving (20/40). Never 20/20. Glasses will destroy your vision. Some people have to wear them. Most can wear them much less than they do. Your vision will improve if you follow these tips.

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I've been staring at screens ever since they replaced teletypes(!), without, and then with, glasses, and I haven't had this particular difficulty, but: I wonder if you might not be blinking often enough? I'd try 1) paying attention to when or how much you blink and making it a habit if you find you aren't; 2) putting a drop of artificial tears in each eye every few hours; 3) taking regular, short breaks away from the screen, even a 60 second walk around your work area, during which you look alternately in the distance and at something nearby. You might find you back appreciates this as well.

The main physical issue I had was a sore back and neck. I used to set my watch's chime to go off every hour and half hour, and take a break each time. Eventually it became habit and I no longer need the watch but I still need the breaks.

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If you are on Windows something else you could consider is changing the background window colour to an off white which will cut down the glare. You might have to experiment to get a shade that works for you.

This won't work if an application ignores the system settings and uses its own values for backgrounds.

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