Ask HN: Tricks to Avoid Eye Problems?

52 points by jackbin 2 months ago

As a software engineer, I have the need to stay many hours in front of a screen.

I work 8 hours a day in an office with a computer. At home I usually spend about 3 hours a day at the computer (social network, programming, side projects, HN, ...).

I usually have slightly red eyes. Lately the problem has gotten worse. I began to have some pains in the right eye and difficulty focusing on the computer screen.

Because of that, I'm currently at home on vacation. I have a scheduled appointment with a vision specialist next week.

This is the first time I have complications with vision. I'm 26 years old, so far I've never had any problems or need glasses.

Someone has some tips to avoid eye problems?

geocrasher 2 months ago

Look away. Frequently. I work from home, spend 10-12 hours a day looking at screens. My office is set up so I can glance out a window easily. In fact it's in my peripheral vision, that's how close it is. I look out it frequently. I'm 42, just had glasses in the last 2-3 years. The trick is to let your eye focus on something far away on a regular basis. It's like getting up and walking around, but for your eyes. It makes a huuuge difference.

  • asdf333 2 months ago

    looking far is important. i recently switched to a large monitor and a small office and it has been disastrous for my eyes.

  • altsyset 2 months ago

    Dosn't that distract you?

cyberjunkie 2 months ago

Been using PC screens since 92 and excessively since 95. I'm now 36 and my wife urged me to take an eye test with her because I've ignored my eyesight for so long.

She had a 25 minute session to get her glasses corrected. My time, 20 seconds into mine.

"Ermmm.. there's nothing wrong with his eyes"

My wife was visibly annoyed.

I have this 'terrible' habit of watching people walk by, sometimes stare out in the distance, looking at objects close and far all the time!

shamas 2 months ago

Eye stretching exercises. Focus on something as close as possible (in good light) then slowly track out to something at infinite distance, one eye then the other then both.

Additionally, make sure the contrast on the screen matches your surriundings! There's no reason to have your brightness very high at all, and brightness is different from contrast.

biols 2 months ago

There's the 20/20/20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds) that's cited often.

I started to have similar issues, and my optometrist set me up with some reading glasses optimized for how far away I usually sit from my monitor. They have eliminated a lot of the eyestrain issues I'd been dealing with.

rudedogg 2 months ago

> I have a scheduled appointment with a vision specialist next week.

I was having eye strain towards the end of the day, and getting some "occupational lenses" pretty much fixed the issue. I think visiting an Optometrist is the way to go.


You might check if the lights in your home office flicker with the slow-motion camera mode on your phone. I haven't researched whether it actually causes eye strain, but it's so easy to fix I went ahead and purchased some Phillips LED bulbs like the ones talked about here:

Some random things I do:

- Lower brightness on your monitor (mine is at 75% currently, I think most people go lower)

- Use night shift/flux to make the monitor colors warmer at night

FYI getting used to the lower brightness and glasses will take a day or two. My glasses made my eyes hurt at first.

  • thijsvandien 2 months ago

    For reference, the brightness of my screen is somewhere between 1% and 7%, depending on the time of the day (switching between three modes). People always wonder how I can see anything, but I’m so used to it that I get tired looking at brighter screens very quickly.

  • HNLurker2 2 months ago

    Also recommend flux and twilight (Android, the app the is gold when you put it at max at night and get used to it)

alanfranz 2 months ago

I had similar issues for a while. Some recommendations:

- pick a LARGE, high-quality monitor, both at work and at home, and use retina/hidpi modes. I use a 43" LG 4K monitor, and it was one of the best investments of my life. Sometimes my co-workers laugh about the size of the fonts on my screen, but that usually means I have ZERO STRAIN on my eyes, since everything is extra large (basically, FullHD on a 43" monitor)

- Tune your colors towards red. Blue imposes more strain to your eyes. That's especially true when working indoors and/or by night.

- Tune down your brightness, and use "dark mode" whenever possible.

- Pick a pair of blue-filtering glasses with LARGE lenses, to use while at your PC.

julianlam 2 months ago

While I'm not normally one to espouse buying gear to fix problems, when it comes to problems with the body, I think it could be worth it.

If you are unfortunate enough to need glasses, consider getting a pair that has blue-light filtering (in addition to the regular AR coating).

I also use a monitor that comes with blue light reduction built-in (The Lenovo p24h, if anyone's wondering), and there's a definite difference when I work in the office (with the monitor) and at home (without).

Before I got my glasses, I was getting headaches after a couple hours in front of the computer as well. Not anymore, but taking breaks (as others suggest) is important too!!

jason_slack 2 months ago

I have had glasses since I was 1 year old. They were flexible and strapped to my head. I still have them in a keep-sake box.

Today, I am 42 and my vision is still changing for the worse. I get 2 eye exams each year and I always get an "everyday" pair and an "occupational" pair used for screen, reading, writing, etc.

I am going to a specialist next week to look at why prism adjustments aren't helping. I am skipping lines in test, not seeing text, having difficulty typing without looking.

Good luck. Whatever you do, don't cancel your appointment. Go. You owe it to yourself to get answers.

Adamantcheese 2 months ago

To respond to a click-bait-esque question, just don't have eyes.

But really take breaks, lower the brightness, use the color change function if you work at night, keep the monitor further away from you (check your ergonomics).

orn688 2 months ago

I developed eye floaters about a year ago that are annoyingly noticeable against any page with a white background. The Dark Reader extension ( has been a life saver for me, and I've found my eyes to be less tired overall when using it, too.

My only wish now is for a way to invert PDF colors on Mac - I haven't found a good way to do that short of inverting all screen colors, which messes up all the other apps that do have a dark/night mode.

  • aregsarkissian 2 months ago

    I would have my retinas checked by a retina specialist. Floaters may indicate retina issues that may lead to retina detachment. If caught early there are better options for remedy.

    • orn688 2 months ago

      I've seen several doctors who have confirmed that it's not a serious issue... All the treatments I've heard of have a higher likelihood of side effects than I'm willing to risk to fix something that's just an annoyance.

atoav 2 months ago

* Use a program like flux to reduce the blue light in the late hours (helps with sleep as a side effect)

* Think about your workspace. A lot has been written about this. Read it.

* Every now and then look up and gaze into the distant, roll your eyes and try to feel which muscles of the eyes seem tense. Try to loosen them.

* If you read a lot on screens get an e-reader and implement a way to get away from the screen (can also help with focus)

Your eyes are muscles. And like for every muscle the best thing you can do is move it instead of keeping the same position unchanged for ages.

accrual 2 months ago

I wear eyeglasses frequently. My newest pair has Blutech lenses [0] which help filter blue light. I call it "flux for real life". [1]

They have an amber tint but I don't mind it. The filtering is a part of the lens and not a coating, so it won't wear off.

GP indicates they don't wear glasses but this may be an option for those who do.



  • user7878 2 months ago

    I think screen manufacturer can provide option to buy product with the this type of glasses in their display in built

villgax 2 months ago

Having two monitors at different distances/angles is what has worked for me after almost a year of pomodoro'ing with no better results & slightly blurry eyes at the end of a work day.

Also look at monitors by moving your eyes & not your entire head, just like pilots.

Finally drink lots of water every hour. The pee breaks will help with sedentary lifestyle problems, improve circulation, give your eyelids a break & act as a breather between work bouts.

justaguyhere 2 months ago

My sister had high power, she went to a yoga class and learned some exercises - these were simple (twice a day, doing something simple like look up/down/left/right etc, plus she got a specific cup to wash her eyes) and her power went down quite a bit. She also made sure to look away from the screen often and she got a good night's sleep. This definitely helped in her case.

pjanos 2 months ago

Had pain, sensitivity to light and trouble focusing all caused by dryness due to 2 factors: 1. not enough blinking (staring at the screen while concetrating) 2. Oil glands in eyelids getting stuck and causing suboptimal tear quality

Did two things: 1. purposely blinked more often 2. warmed up eyelids and massaged them from bottom up to stimulate oil glands and get them unstuck twice a day

Solved all problems in two weeks.

Hope it helps, good luck!

sachin18590 2 months ago

Can you elaborate on why you think this might be due to screen exposure? Just curious since I often have a vision pain too, but was not sure if that is indeed because of screentime. I tend to take time off from screen at regular intervals and maintain healthy lighting around etc.

Spooky23 2 months ago

> I work 8 hours a day in an office with a computer. At home I usually spend about 3 hours a day at the computer (social network, programming, side projects, HN, ...).

> Someone has some tips to avoid eye problems?

1. Stop doing that.

2. Make sure that lights are appropriately bright around you.

3. Stop drinking Diet Soda or similar drinks.

  • thepredestrian 2 months ago

    What does diet soda have anything to do with eyes?

    • Spooky23 2 months ago

      The artificial sweeteners can interfere with the optic nerve and can damage blood vessels in the eye. The impact is much worse for smokers and diabetics.

      I had a personal experience with this in my 20s. I was in a situation where I was working on a project that left me working long shifts in a dim area, and started having peripheral flashes of light. That's a sign of retina detachment, so I was rushed off to the ophthalmologist. They went through a bunch of stuff and it turned out I was ingesting extreme amounts of aspartame. (>12 cups of coffee and 8-10 Diet Cokes a day) From a medical POV, more than 4 cans of diet soda is considered "high" use. I stopped sweetening coffee and moved to seltzer the next day and the symptoms were gone in 48 hours.

      Diet Soda is bad stuff for many reasons. You're better off with drinking sugared soda or beer.

Jemm 2 months ago

Avoiding light grey text on a pale yellow background (like Hacker News) is a good start to saving your eyes.

lovelearning 2 months ago

I do these: Keep all device brightness levels at their lowest. Use "night mode" if available. Prefer natural lighting if available. At nights, keep indoor lighting dim. Sit under the sky at night and focus eyes on stars. Eye exercises (rotate eyes inside closed sockets CW and CCW).

livenoworelse 2 months ago

Get Blue light blocking glasses like Gamma Rays. I've been in the business 30 years and do need some reading glasses, but for the most part not any issues. The Gamma Rays (or something like it) really ease the stress on the eyes. Probably use a screen 12 hours a day unfortunately!!

jongomez 2 months ago

Here's one that sounds obvious but I rarely see people point out: close your eyes. If your eyes are tired, just close them for a for a while. Let your eyelids do some work. That's one of their main functions after all - to protect the eye.

amibang 2 months ago

It is not healthy to sit in a chair staring at a screen all day. Consider early retirement or a change of career, if you can.

rajacombinator 2 months ago

In addition to using a program like flux, develop your awareness of your monitor brightness. Adjust it throughout the day so that it is neither too bright nor too dim.

dyeje 2 months ago

I started having eye strain issues around 25. For me, I was able to fix it by lowering the brightness of my monitor / laptop to the minimum for it to look 'normal' to me.

arikr 2 months ago

The app "Time Out" is really good for this on Mac. I've used it daily for probably the last six months, it automatically helps you do eye breaks.

emmelaich 2 months ago

The "glasses off" smartphone app has some good reviews.

But I'd just echo others advice and say look out the window frequently.

bitxbitxbitcoin 2 months ago


  • jackbin 2 months ago

    What about a dark theme in Code Editor (something like default Sublime theme)?

    • bitxbitxbitcoin 2 months ago

      That certainly doesn't hurt. My favorite of the other comments is the 20/20/20 rule. If you had to only choose one choose that one. But ideally, choose them all.

expopinions 2 months ago

Your eyes are an important part of your health. There are many things you can do to keep them healthy and make sure you are seeing your best. Follow these simple steps for maintaining healthy eyes well into your golden years.

Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam. You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. When it comes to common vision problems, some people don’t realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.

During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room. This enables your eye care professional to get a good look at the back of the eyes and examine them for any signs of damage or disease. Your eye care professional is the only one who can determine if your eyes are healthy and if you’re seeing your best.

Know your family’s eye health history. Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.

Eat right to protect your sight. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too.


Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions, which can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor.

Wear protective eyewear. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for a certain activity. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores.

Quit smoking or never start. Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.

Be cool and wear your shades. Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Give your eyes a rest. If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This can help reduce eyestrain.

Clean your hands and your contact lensesproperly. To avoid the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. Make sure to disinfect contact lenses as instructed and replace them as appropriate.

Practice workplace eye safety. Employers are required to provide a safe work environment. When protective eyewear is required as a part of your job, make a habit of wearing the appropriate type at all times and encourage your coworkers to do the same.