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Eye Strain

How do you deal with it?

     
4:12 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Like many of you, I spend a huge part of each day staring at a computer monitor (mine is a 17" CRT). Any suggestions for dealing with eye strain, especially as it relates to a choice of monitor?
4:16 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You could put a filter over the screen, these aren't expensive. Apparently Eyebright (a herb of some sort) helps tired eyes. You can get it from a naturopath or health food store. I don't know what the dosage would need to be though.
4:29 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Get a flat panel display, that's the best investment you can make. Imho, those CRT screens are really bad for your eyes, as compared to LCDs.

Added: The eye strain that i experienced before i got a LCD was related to the constant flickering of the screen. A fast update cycle can take a small amount of this away, but not all. A LCD always has a rock solid image with no flickering, it's really easy on the eyes.

Also: It's important to have indirect "soft" lighting, especially to avoid reflexes. And avoid windows and sunlight that interferes with your screen.

4:35 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Get a flat panel display, that's the best investment you can make. Imho, those CRT screens are really bad for your eyes, as compared to LCDs.

That is so true. I used a 21-inch CRT for years running at 85 mhz or higher refresh and started getting headaches about a year ago. I moved to using laptops 90% of the time and then sold my 21-inch CRT and bought a nice 19-inch LCD. Wow, what a difference. Best investment one can make IMHO.

4:36 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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CTR screens can be very bad for the eyes of you use your computer for long periods of time. I know of one time when I was literaly unable to focus properly after a long session using a crt.

A flat panel screen will certainly be a wise investiment, but you may want to have a chat with your doctor or optician. They will be able to give you a lot of very profesional advice. It's always best to have these things checked out, if you have any eye sight problems, long periods of staring into a monitor will almost certainly exasperate them.

You can also get eye glasses now that are designed for computer users, not sure how effective they are but it's something to look into.

Mack.

6:59 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You can also get eye glasses now that are designed for computer users, not sure how effective they are but it's something to look into.

I use a pair. Measured from my eyes to the screen the focal length is 26 inches; the lenses are specifically manufactured for that distance. They work at a bit shorter and a bit longer too.... They prevent nearly 100% of visual acuity problems for me when using the computer. They were relatively inexpensive: total excluding the exam (had to have it anyway for my distance-vision contacts) was less than $50 for the frames and lenses.

Whatever you do, DON'T try to get by with bifocals or trifocals! It's a real problem according to my optometrist, because NONE of the focal lengths are generally right for monitor distance....

7:11 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Can you get them for 2" from the screen. I have to clean my screen often to get sneezes and nose prints off of it. I do get headaches. I just get up. I am legaly blind and my eyes get strained more when trying to look at somthing outside. I't funny I can play games for hours but work seems to hurt them more.
8:08 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Give yourself plenty of breaks away from reading anything each hour.

Make sure your monitor isnt flush with thw wall so your eyes can focus on something else when you look up, in the distance.

When I used to use Monochrome green monitors id be on the receiving of terrible migraines odd thing was I never clicked as to the cause till I changed screens.

Bit fick really.

8:11 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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ogletree, I used to work with a legally blind woman who DID have a pair just for using with a specially-made monitor of some sort - something to do with a different raster? Can't remember now.... but anyway, while she didn't have only a couple of inches between her nose and the screen, it wasn't more than about 5 inches IIRC - monitor came to her on one of those big arm-thingies....
8:45 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the responses. Good stuff. A quick follow-up question: Regarding LDC monitors, is monitor quality (or some other characteristic) important?

I assume larger is better (I'm thinking 19"), but is there something else I should look for?

9:09 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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but is there something else I should look for?

Response time = lower the better
Contrast = Higher the better

I can say I did quite a bit of research and settled on a Samsung 910T and am very happy with it. I'm not saying there are not better LCD's out there, but it fit my budget and is a quality product IMHO.

9:28 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You should consider the space it takes on your desk, ie. the footprint, as well: The smaller, the better.

Also, some of the cheaper ones don't display well unless you're right in front of it. You should make sure that you can view the display fully from more than one angle, ie. that the viewing angle is wide. Mine is around 150 degrees and that's perfectly fine for all purposes (less could do).

Actually, some of them come with a built in TV tuner, wall mounts, and speakers/headphone jacks. Also, some of the better ones have a special glass cover on top of the LCD display, to protect the screen. Some have support for touch screen as well - that kind of stuff might be interesting too :)

10:36 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Get a flat panel display, that's the best investment you can make. Imho, those CRT screens are really bad for your eyes, as compared to LCDs.

I'll second that too. I noticed an amazingly less amount eye strain after switching from a desktop with a CRT, to using an laptop with an LCD full time. If you are on the computer all the time an LCD is a MUST...if you've ever seen a computer screen through a video camera or CCTV monitor, you can see the refresh rate and realize more the damage it is most likely doing to your eyes.

I actually just bought a new sharp activius notebook, that has a "double bright" lcd display. (It's REALLY bright, when I set them side by side). I'm kinda wondering if this is going to be better or worse for eye strain.

11:07 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Now that I'm shopping for an LCD, I've heard that a 15" LCD has about the same size image as a 17" CRT. Is that true?
11:38 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Now that I'm shopping for an LCD, I've heard that a 15" LCD has about the same size image as a 17" CRT. Is that true?

Yes, CRT's are measured by diagonal tube size and most 17" CRT's have between 15.25-15.80" viewable (if I recall correctly). The bezel hides the rest of the CRT which would not be viewable anyways.

If you buy an LCD I would suggest looking at 17-19 inch models unless you want to really start spending a lot of the extra inches.

3:58 am on Oct 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Some suggestions when working with a CRT monitor (coming from someone who 'lives' in front of one and has rarely had eye problems due to being ultra picky about their monitor setup :p )

* REFRESH RATE
As mentioned earlier in this thread, refresh rates are crucial, anything at or under 75MHz is a death trap for your eyes. They strain as they attempt to form a solid picture from what is literally a fast strobe light in front of it. Ideally you want 85 or 90Hz depending on the capabilites of your monitor.

* RESOLUTION
Some people attempt this bizzar 17" monitor at 1600x1200 resolution combo that makes text look like the small print at the bottom of your mortgage contract :p. Set your resolution to be inline with your screen size or you will be continually squinting to make out what you are doing. Even though I have a 21", I still only run it at 1024x768. When doing graphics work, a 19" or 21" is an optimal screen size, but 17" is sufficient.

* ERGONOMICS
Your eyes, neck, head, etc are all contected together. Make sure you that your desk ergonomics are correct and that you are looking towards and slightly down at your monitor, not upwards. The monitor should be angled ever so slightly upward towards you. You can easily get more detailed work environment ergonomics information from the web.

* SCREEN GLARE
If you are working in an environment prone to screen glare (ie your living room windows are directly behind your computer and for half the day your monitor is drenched in sunlight), MOVE YOUR COMPUTER. Glare can have a profoundly negative impact on your eyes.

* CONTRAST AND BRIGHTNESS
Always adjust your contrast and brightness settings to be compatible with your work environment. CRT monitors are RARELY set correctly from the factory. There are numerous screen test utilities that you can download from the web that let you properly calibrate your screen brightness, contrast and other vital settings. If your brightness is too strong, for example, you could definitely strain your eye over prolonged use.

* DISTANCE FROM USER
You preferably want the monitor situated not too close or not too far from your sitting position. It is difficult for me to give exact measurments because everyones work environment will be different. But it must be at a comfrotable distance, really sit and examine whether you are leaning forward to read text, or pulling back to get a better view of the overall picture.

* FOCAL POINT EXERCISE
Typically when you are using a computer for a prolonged period of time, your eyes are focused on a set distance for that duration. This is not exactly natural for your eyes, and they can eventually get rather upset about it. I highly recommend you just take brief moments (every 20 to 30 minutes) where you are able to look around the room, out the window / door etc, and focus across a range of objects progressively getting further away from you. Makgin sure you completely focus on each object you look at. Example, first star at you hand, then the filing cabinet next to you, then the window, then the park next to your house, then the buildings in the distance, blah blah blah.

Hope this list helps!

4:17 am on Oct 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What LCD monitors would you suggest to replace old 21" Mitsubishi?

I am currently running on 1280x960 @ 85 Hertz, thus I don't want a LCD with 1600x1200, but I want the big screen ;)

12:23 pm on Oct 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Can you get permanent damage to your dies from minor eye strain?
12:40 pm on Oct 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What LCD monitors would you suggest to replace old 21" Mitsubishi?

I am currently running on 1280x960 @ 85 Hertz, thus I don't want a LCD with 1600x1200, but I want the big screen

I replaced my 21" mitsubishi diamondtron tubed CRT with the Samsung I mentioned above which has a native resloution of 1280x1024. Very comfortable viewing and with it's high contrast ratio whites are white and blacks are black. The colors/contrast are a lot more accurate than my calibrated CRT.
Again, not pushing this particular LCD, but it's hard to find the same specs at the same price.

2:02 pm on Oct 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Can you get permanent damage to your dies from minor eye strain?

Unfortunately yes. When I was first building my web site, I was doing a lot of work with images and drawings. I was also working very long hours. 16 to 18 hours per day at times. This went on for several months.

I went from having 20/30 vision to 20/60 in less than 3 months. I got headaches, terribly blurred vision and ended up having to see the eye doctor who prescribed cheaters and an eye patch.

I had to wear the patch on one eye for four hours, take a nap and then wear it on the other eye for another four hours. I was not allowed to work more than 8 hours a day in total and no TV.

I had managed to produce severe eye strain along with dry eye syndrome.

Over the next few years, my vision became progressively worse. I started out using cheaters ...125, then 175, then 250, 300 and then 350.

My doctor eventually told me I was legally blind at the time of my exam and also had persistant, chronic dry eye syndrome.

I purchased more glasses. One for distance, one for computer work and one for jusy walking around the house or watching TV. I also have to use eye drops (natural tears sort of thing) once every two hours.

Without my glasses, everything looks like a Monet painting. There is no definition. When I'm tired and even with my glasses ... everything looks like a Monet painting.

At night, I can't see much of anything and am not allowed to drive. Kind of puts the kaibosh to one's social life!

I urge anyone who is having eye problems to see a professional right away. If your eyes get "itchy" or red, use a natural tear solution frequently and see an eye doctor a.s.a.p.

I can't have laser surgery to fix my eye problems because of the chronic dry eye syndrome ... which was caused by long hours in front of a computer and at this point, the damage is not reversable.

Your eyes are not something to mess with. I did and am paying the price.

3:32 pm on Oct 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've heard that a 15" LCD has about the same size image as a 17" CRT. Is that true?

We have both a 15" & a 17" LCD monitor sitting across from one another. The difference is tremendous. The 17" has a much bigger image than the 15".

From what I've seen I don't think the difference is quite so dramatic when you go to a 19" (from a 17").

4:04 pm on Oct 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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the eye doctor who prescribed cheaters

What are cheaters?

4:38 pm on Oct 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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4:56 pm on Oct 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The Contractor: the monitor you mentioned looks nice, but it's only 19". I really want 21". I am so used to it, I don't think I can go smaller than that. I also use it as TV btw.
5:39 pm on Oct 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What are cheaters?

Non-prescription glasses with magnifying lenses.

6:22 pm on Oct 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks, visca.
6:57 pm on Oct 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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A few years ago I switched to LCD monitors and have never gone back! I used to experience eye problems almost daily when using a CRT monitor. Ever since I switched to using LCDs I can work 18 hour days and not have a single problem with my eyes - it was that much of a difference for me.
10:30 pm on Oct 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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My eyes don't usually bother me... that is until I began reading this thread and started thinking about it. Kinda like when you think about 'breathing' ;).

I think changing your focus every few minutes helps(atleast for me). I have a window right by me so I usually look out the window for a minute or two.

5:00 pm on Oct 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Wow, great thread, I've been worried about this. Sorry to read your experience Liane, that's a very unfortunate thing. I'd been debating going to LCD but I kept putting it off.

One problem I think is that not all eye doctors are fully aware of these types of issues, but hopefully that will change over time. I asked mine, who is amazingly good, a research type guy, and he wasn't aware of these issues.

This thread is enough to convince me to spend the money though, I've experienced every symptom people here describe, burning eyes after long sessions, decline in vision, definitely time to move to LCD.

One other thing to consider if you are going to work with this stuff longterm is the practice of using tiny fonts, very high resolution screens. This forces your eyes to focus in a way that is completely unnatural, and is almost certain to cause further long term decline in your vision, not in all cases, but my guess is that many years of this will raise the likelihood of you needing vision correction dramatically as you get older, I've seen it in several of my programming friends, laptops, set to 1400 pixel or 1600 pixel widths, glasses followed a few years later.

7:27 pm on Oct 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for starting this thread mt_biker. I came here to ask the same question and was pleasantly surprised to find the answer.

Now, I see the general opinion is that LCDs are much better for your eyes. What CRTs have you guys used before getting your LCD? I'm using a 2003 17" Samsung with Flat display and 85 Khz and I get frequent eye strain. My question is: are LCDs much better even in comparison to a relatively new CRT like mine? I'm thinking of buying a 17" Philips LCD 450:1 and 16 ms resp time.

Thanks.
Dan

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