Eyecare is incredibly important for software engineers because of the large amounts of time they spend in front of a computer monitor every day. Keeping your eyes healthy is a great way to avoid joining the 164 million Americans who wear corrective lenses. Preventing deterioration of your eyesight is the best form of treatment in the long run.
Poor eyesight is something that affects two-thirds of people, especially as they age. So taking time to prevent eye problems reaps benefits later in life. Those in tech spend a disproportionate amount of time in front of their laptops so can be especially prone to eyesight deterioration.
We have already discussed the reasons behind why software engineers wear glasses so now we will focus on the best eyecare strategies for software engineers to maintain healthy eyes.
Why do software engineers have eye problems?
Eye problems creep up on you slowly so preventing them is the best possible solution. Unfortunately working in front of the computer all day makes it hard to avoid your eyesight getting worse. Software engineering typically uses eye problems because of:
- Poor hardware configuration – Not having your brightness and contrast adjusted accordingly can cause eye strain. Also, not having your monitor or laptop at the right distance can stress your eyes throughout the day.
- Old hardware – Older monitors weren’t built with ergonomics in mind. They don’t have the setting available to configure your setup correctly. The picture quality is also significantly worse which means it’s tougher to view.
- Spending too much time inside – Staring at things that are nearby all day is proven to lead to short-sightedness. By spending too much time inside you never get to gaze at things in the distance and give your eyes a break. It is also much brighter outside so your eyes don’t have to work as hard.
- Not wearing glasses – Plenty of people are guilty of needing some form of the corrective lens but not wearing them. Some people don’t like the feel of contacts or the look of lenses so they just don’t bother. Not wearing glasses when you need them puts a lot of pressure on your eyes.
- No eye checkups – Software engineers tend to do a fair bit of overtime so finding time to get their eyes checked can be difficult. Eye tests are crucial for identifying any problems or changes in sight.
Plenty of the reasons why software engineers have eye problems is preventable. It just requires a bit of extra time and cares to prevent worsening eyesight.
How do software engineers take care of their eyes?
The best way for software engineers to take care of their eyes is to:
- Wear color corrective lenses
- Eat well
- Wear sunglasses when outside
- Take frequent breaks and use the 20/20/20 rule
- Configure monitors correctly
- Exercise their eyes
- Control lighting
- Schedule regular eye appointments
- Use blue screen filters or apps
While this isn’t an exhaustive list it’s certainly a good start and will help your eyesight in the long run. Let’s explore each of the points above in a bit more detail.
Color corrective lenses
Color corrective lenses help reduce glare and filter out blue light to keep your eyes from straining. Around a third of all lenses sold now are anti-reflective and have become a fan-favorite in the developer community.
Gunnar glasses regularly come recommended by software engineering and gamers alike.
A good diet is essential to keep your eyes healthy. Zinc, fatty acids, lutein, and vitamins C & E, are all great foods for your eyes. Food high in these nutrients tends to be great for you as well so that’s a bonus. Check out spinach, kale, salmon, tuna, eggs, and nuts to give your eyes the fuel they need.
Glare and bright lights strain your eyes a lot. When you’re away from your desk on a bright day make sure to wear sunglasses. Unnecessary UX exposure to your eyes can cause cataracts and macular degeneration
Avaway sunglasses offer 100% UV filtering and this is what you want to be getting for maximum protection.
Taking breaks as a software engineer can be difficult. However, when you do use the 20/20/20 rule. You should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Play around with the distance and time, the longer and farther the better. Not only does it give your eyes a chance to adapt to longer distances but it may take your mind off the current issue you are working through.
Configure your monitor
Getting the settings right on your monitor is essential to eye care for software engineers. You need to make sure that the brightness matches that of the room you are in – lower the brightness to match the darkness of the room. The higher the contrast ratio the better, so those dark themes always come in handy. In terms of color temperature, you want it set as low as possible to reduce the amount of blue light coming from your monitor.
Exercise your eyes
Starting at something close by all day is known to cause short-sightedness. So exercising your eyes helps reduce strain on your eyes and keeps them fresh. It builds up strength in the surrounding muscles and also gives them a much-needed break.
Check out the video below for 10 great eye exercises.
Control the lighting
You never want your computer screen to be brighter than the surrounding environment. It increases eye strain and the amount of blue light you are exposed to. As the sun goes down outside make sure you are keeping your workspace adequately lit. One approach is to use a backlight behind your computer that keeps in step with the surrounding light to reduce the contrast.
Another thing to avoid is glare. Light shining in from outside and reflected off your screen is hard on the eyes. Either rearrange your desk or get a glare-reducing screen protector.
Schedule eye checkups
Taking a visit to the optometrist at least once a year means you can stay on top of your eye health. They’ll identify any issues and help you manage them to reduce long-term damage. As software engineers, making sure you get regular eye screening is essential. It allows you to receive preventative eye care that will keep your eyes healthy.
Remember that without your eyes working correctly you won’t have a job so getting any issue seen to be an issue is important.
Blue light filters
You can take a couple of different approaches to reduce the amount of blue light you intake while at your desk. The first is a hardware approach. Blue light filters for monitors have been popular for a while and are incredibly effective. They are pretty common in office environments and mean you don’t have to wear blue-light-blocking glasses.
The second option is to download f.lux for Mac or f.lux for Windows. It automatically adjusts your monitor’s display to match the time of the day. It means you can avoid having to manually tinker with your settings all day.
Eyecare for software engineers is incredibly important because we spend so much time staring at monitors. There is no single fix or approach you should take. Instead, keeping your eyes healthy will require a holistic approach and mean keeping on top of your eye care throughout the year.
Limiting your exposure to the things that cause eye problems like poor hardware and avoiding a lackluster eye health regime will pay dividends in the long run.
Nathan Britten, the founder and editor of Developer Pitstop, is a self-taught software engineer with nearly five years of experience in front-end technologies. Nathan created the site to provide simple, straightforward knowledge to those interested in technology, helping them navigate the industry and better understand their day-to-day roles.