Software engineers wear glasses because they look at computer screens all day from a relatively short distance which causes short-sightedness. 164 million adults wear glasses in the United States so it makes sense that software engineers, who look at screens all day, are among those who need them.
Not all programmers use some sort of vision correction but extended periods of close work can make your eyes worse. Spending time away from a monitor isn’t an option for most software engineers, it’s part and parcel of the job.
So let’s take a look at the specifics behind why software engineers wear glasses and how to protect your eyes when staring at a screen all day.
Do software engineers need glasses?
Software engineers need glasses because clear vision is important when you have to read a screen for a living. 64% of adults need glasses and they become even more important in detail-specific jobs like software development. Maintaining good eye health is critical for programmers.
Of course, not all software engineers need glasses, especially at a young age. Some people can get away with using a computer and never need glasses. However, if you find your eyes straining after a long day at work, or your vision is blurrier, glasses are a must. They stop your eyes from struggling and slow down the long-term deterioration of your eyesight.
Americans spend $127 on average on a pair of glasses. That is more than affordable on a software engineer’s salary, so it makes sense to get a pair rather than struggle in front of your monitor.
Plenty of software engineers only wear glasses for work and can avoid using them in other aspects of life. Excessive close work, where you have to continually focus on nearby objects, is a leading cause of shortsightedness. Unfortunately, for programmers, this is how we spend the majority of our day.
As a young developer you may be able to escape the need for glasses but get regular checkups with your optometrist just in case.
Older developers and eyesight
Short-sightedness, or myopia, is one of the most common issues adults develop after the age of 40. The condition means you have trouble focusing on objects that are far away. Young people develop it too but it’s generally par for the course as your age.
So be prepared to need glasses if you are still working as a software developer later in life.
Why do software engineers have eye problems?
Software engineers have eye problems because the majority of their work involves staring at a nearby monitor for hours on end, and they also spend less time outside than other jobs which prevents their eyes from getting some much-needed rest.
It’s not only software engineers who develop eye problems, 5 billion people are expected to be affected by short-sightedness by 2050. The reasons the general public and software engineers have issues with their eyes are largely the same. Unfortunately, developers desperately trying to code the next Linux distribution, spend more time in front of the computers than the general public which intensifies the issue.
So what are the main reasons why software engineers have eye problems?
Having older monitors can make staring at a screen all day difficult. They weren’t built with the expectation people would be in front of them for 8-12 hours a day. Older monitors didn’t have the customizations that their modern counterparts do. Changing a wide range of settings to suit your needs was not an option.
In contrast, high-quality monitors like ViewSonic or Asus come with built-in eye protection that takes the strain away. If your company isn’t prepared to fork out for high-quality hardware that keeps your eyesight safe, it may be time to change jobs.
Too little time outdoors
Sitting and staring at objects that are close by for hours has been proven to negatively impact your eyesight. One of the things that take the strain away is to balance this out and look at things in the distance. Being outdoors is the perfect opportunity to avoid nearby objects and stare into the distance.
The brightness levels outside are also significantly higher than indoors which means your eyes don’t have to work as hard.
Unfortunately, a lot of software engineers spend significant amounts of their time indoors. Developers do have a wide range of hobbies outside of work, but plenty of them like to game. Essentially, they double up a long day in front of a computer monitor with an evening in front of the TV – which only makes eye problems worse.
How do software engineers protect their eyes?
Software engineers protect their eyes by wearing the color corrective lenses, eating the right diet, taking regular breaks, installing protective software, and having their monitors set up correctly. Small changes to your daily routine as a software engineer can have a big impact on the long-term health of your eyes.
The majority of people will end up having to use some form of visual aid eventually. But it doesn’t mean you can’t avoid glasses a little longer with good eye hygiene. Let’s take a look at the best ways to protect your eyes as a software engineer.
1. Wearing color corrective lens
Wearing corrective lenses or contacts that reduce glare is a great way to keep your eyes feeling fresh. Around 29% of all lenses sold are now anti-reflective which helps to take the strain off your eyes.
All blue light is absorbed into the back of the retina so limiting your exposure each day by wearing special lenses is always a big plus.
2. Eating well
Believe it or not, maintaining a healthy diet is a great way to protect your eyes. Your eyes love nutrients like zinc, vitamins C & E, fatty acids, and lutein. Your body is essentially a vehicle so filling it with the right fuel is never a bad idea.
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are great, as is oily fish like salmon and tuna. Eggs, nuts, and other protein sources, alongside citrus fruits, should be enough to make sure your eyes are getting the fuel they need.
3. Wearing Sunglasses
Protecting your eyes away from the desk is also important in maintaining good eye health. Make sure to wear sunglasses when you are outside. UX exposure can increase your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Ideally, you want to wear a pair that offers 100% UV protection.
4. Take breaks
As a software engineer stepping away from your computer can be tough, especially if you are right in the middle of solving a complex problem. However, a great way to protect your eyes is by implementing the 20/20/20 rule.
Every 20 minutes make sure to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Feel free to play with the distance and time but always go longer or farther, rather than shorter. Doing this gives your eyes a chance to flex.
Aside from that, getting away from your screen for a minute or two may help you solve that tricky problem!.
5. Adjust your monitor
Make sure that your monitor is between 20 and 40 inches from your eyes – it’s roughly the same length as your arm. If it’s further away than an outstretched arm you are too far away. Having it the correct distance means your eyes don’t have to continually fight to adjust.
In terms of brightness, you want your monitor to be in step with your surroundings. You don’t want websites with a white background to illuminate the entire room. But you also don’t want to have to squint and strain because the colors are too dull.
Also, make sure that you aren’t having to contend with excessive glare from outside or other light sources. If this is the case, you may have to rearrange your desk setup or get a screen filter.
6. Download f.lux for your laptop
F.lux is a free piece of software that automatically adjusts your computer display to match the time of day. It warms in the evening and is brighter during the day. It essentially stops you from having to adjust all the settings yourself.
As the day progresses it allows less blue light to emit from the screen so if you do end up on your laptop late, it’s easier to get to sleep. It automatically finds your location and knows what time the sun sets, so it handles all the adjustments without you needing to.
Software engineers wear glasses because they stare at a computer screen all day and don’t give their eyes the break they need. Close work is a leading cause of eye problems and this is what 90% of a developer’s work involves.
The good news is that software engineers can prolong the onset of poor eyesight with a few basic tweaks to their daily routine. It’s not foolproof as most people eventually succumb to bad eyesight but keeping your eyes healthy for as long as possible is always a good idea.
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.