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As a result of the great, and sometimes sobering, feedback from this thread I've ordered a 19" NEC LCD1960NXi LCD monitor (I also plan to consult with an eye doctor). It wasn't cheap, but the experiences of some of the participants of this thread has convinced me that it well worth it. I'll let everyone know what I think when it arrives next week.
To those thread participants who have suffered eye damage, migranes and the like, I offer a sincere and humble THANK YOU for sharing your experience so that the rest of us might benefit.
I've known all along that my eyesight is declining - frequently now I'm having dry eyes/red eyes and I know that my vision isn't the same as a couple of years back even though I'm trying to lag with visiting a doctor [don't want spectacles ;( ]
The saddest part of it is that i'm still relatively young and can't imagine myself at 40 at this rate!
Also i'm using a 21 inch CRT with 100 refresh rate but the long hours are still making themselves felt (i can stay to 15 hours or more in front of a damn monitor)
As for LCD's I'm really tempted into buying one but a design instructor (teaches photoshop) told me that they're not worth it because they're likely to tire your eyes much more than a CRT and that you have to spend a LOT (something around $1800 to get a really good LCD)... Which is very puzzling since I had always thought that I could buy a good one for around $500 (those listed on the link below are all around this price range)
So now what......should I simply stop and start building/painting houses instead!?
Personally, I've always considered computer work to be by far and away the most unhealthy work I've ever done, so it's nice to see this fact brought to light.
Regarding designing, high end design, a good CRT is going to be clearer and crisper than a good LCD, that's what kept me from LCD's, well, that and the price, but fixing bad vision isn't cheap, to put it mildly, if it can even be fixed.
There seem to be a lot of good pointers in this thread, most of them probably worth thinking about if you're going to keep programming/coding.
Then, I was told to take *frequent* breaks and to blink a lot. When you take a break, look out the window at something far for a few minutes.
Wearing glasses is better than contacts, I can attest to that.
Also, never work in a dark room with your LCD/CRT as your only source of light. Invest in a nice, ambient lighting for the room.
After working about a year or so staring at monitors, my eyesight is still the same as before - so I guess that's good news.
Now, if there's only something for that pain that shoots up and down my right arm (carpal tunnel?)...
Using a mouse too much also results in this problem, solution to that is use as many keyboard shortcuts as possible. One neurologist turned network admin recommended placing your toolbar/tasktray ontop of the screen, so that when you move to it with a mouse you are moving your hand upwards, which I guess is a better motion for the hand and ligaments in general, I use that and it works very well. Also use a pad under your wrists, use an ergonomic keyboard, those are great.
But over reliance on mouseuse is I think the worst one, as soon as I feel that pain I start using the keyboard much more for navigation, and it gets better right away. If you let carpal tunnel go, you can end up having surgery, which means that they have to cut your wrists open, work off the scar tissue in your tendons/ligaments, then sew you back up together. Or you can stop using the mouse as much....