Work in IT? Here are Top 10 Ways to Prevent Eyestrain for Programmers

by Aaron Schwander on July 1, 2019 in Concero, Professional Development


Whether it’s tweaking settings to boost business performance or using tech wizardry to save an organization from potential ruin, IT specialists like programmers are on the front line. While their skills and objectives vary massively, they always have one thing in common — a lot of screen time.

Poor lighting, consecutive hours sitting, and the need to stare at screens to do your work can all lead to physical discomfort, especially eyestrain. Modern computer displays look much more like printed material than ever, but even with sophisticated adjustments for contrast, brightness and hue, IT professionals tend to be more at risk of eye strain and computer vision syndrome than other people.

Don’t get Computer Vision Syndrome.

Computer vision syndrome can be described as the problems that come from prolonged screen viewing with devices such as computers, tablets and cell phones. Despite improvements in computer screens and lighting, we are still tied to human physiology. Our sensory limitations mean that we interpret the information coming from a screen and this can stress both brain and eyes.

Screens are a part of working with IT, but it doesn’t mean that computer vision syndrome has to be part of IT life too. To protect your health and your future in programming, you can take a few daily actions to reduce the risk of eyestrain and have a happier, healthier work life.

Address the Basics

One of the most basic characteristics of a computer screen is its refresh rate. A screen’s refresh rate refers to how frequently per second the screens are redrawn or refreshed or how often a new picture is made.

Generally, 60 times a second (a frequency of 60 Hz) is considered acceptable. This is because that frequency is indistinguishable to the human eye and appears to be a continuous, uninterrupted display. Slower refresh rates, such as 30 Hz, have a flickering appearance to the human eye. That can cause eyestrain. With modern computers, you can usually set the screen’s refresh rate to something that works for you.

Here are 10 ways programmers can help prevent computer vision syndrome:

  1. Make screen viewing easier on your eyes by regularly taking breaks. Never mind “getting your groove on” or being “in the zone.” Programmers and other IT specialists deserve and need to take regular breaks. If you really can’t leave your desk, the 20-20-20 rule is effective. It suggests that you take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and focus your eyes on something about 20 feet away to help protect your vision.
  2. Simple eye care will help too. If you haven’t used eye drops, try them. If you haven’t had a recent eye exam, get one. Describe to your eye doctor the kind of work you do, and for how many hours a day you work with screens.
  3. Programmers might benefit from a prescription for new glasses to help with their work. Tinted glasses, like the FL-41 variety, block wavelengths from fluorescent lights that can cause dizziness and headaches. These glasses, called blue blockers, may help with screening the wavelengths that computers emit.
  4. Keep the computer monitor at the right distance from your eyes, which is about 15 – 20 inches. Don’t have the monitor positioned so your eyes are level with the screen’s center. Have the screen so you are looking a bit down at its center. That also gives your head and neck a more comfortable position for extended viewing, like reading a book.
  5. Sometimes simple solutions are the best. Adjusting your screen’s contrast, brightness, and resolution. While you may be tempted to dial it up to the maximum resolution to increase the amount of “real estate” you can fit on your screen, a lower resolution and a larger font may be easier on your eyes and allow you to work more effectively.
  6. Take control of your lighting. Would “daylight” bulbs be better than fluorescent? Don’t have the lights too bright and avoid glare. You can also get filters for computer screens that reduce glare, as well as glasses.
  7. If your office or workspace has sunlight coming in, try to position yourself properly. Aim to have any sunlight behind you, instead of in front of you, as long as the sunlight does not cause obtrusive reflections on your screen.
  8. Your seating position is important. Programmers and other IT specialists using screens can benefit from sitting upright and being able to look slightly downward at the center of the computer screen.
  9. What about your chair? It needs to support your back. If your arms are on the desk, supporting your weight, a better seating position will protect your back and make it more likely that your eyes are at the optimum distance from the screen.
  10. The placement of reference or ancillary materials can affect your vision through the day. If you need things like pens and notepaper, keep them about the same distance from you as your computer screen. Your eyes won’t have to change focus to look at these things.

Take care of your vision to safeguard your future in IT. If you’re looking for employment in the IT field, get in touch with us at Concero. We can help you “see” where you want your career to go.


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