Reducing eye strain

I usually program for several hours a day. I often end up with eye strain caused by looking at the screen for hours without a break. I’ve been experimenting with different things to see how I can reduce this problem. Here I want to share 4 tips I’ve discovered to reduce eye strain when programming for a long time:

1. Use a color scheme with light background.

Dark color schemes look really cool, I know. I love the one that comes with ST2 by default:

Default Color Scheme in ST2

However, after using these kind of color schemes for a while, I’ve noticed that my eyes get tired more quickly. I didn’t understand why. Specially because I’ve heard a lot of people saying that dark color schemes are actually better to reduce eye strain. After reading more about it, I discovered that there are multiple studies confirming that dark text on light background is much easier to read.

Right now I’m using this colorscheme:

My current colorscheme

It feels so much better!

Dark backgrounds are not completely bad if you use some low contrast scheme like Zenburn. I would like to try it one of these days.

2. Adjust screen color temperature at night.

Monitors’ color temperature is usually set at 6500K. This is similar to sunlight. This is okay for the day but it can hurt your eyes at night, specially if you use a Tungsten-like light as I do. There is a nice program to automatically adjust color temperature in your monitor called F.lux. It’s a bit hard to get used to it at the beginning, but once you do, you are going to love it.

3. Adjust room lighting.

I’ve found that the key factor to produce eye strain is to have unbalanced light between your screen and the room you’re in. I’ve discovered that I prefer to work on a slightly dark room with medium-high screen brightness. A dark room will hurt my eyes as well as a sun-like lighting.

4. Take a break.

In the end, the best tip is just to take breaks from time to time. Don’t abuse the use of the computer. Go out for a walk or a coffee. Come back later and keep working.

 

3 thoughts on “Reducing eye strain

  1. I’ve found that light-text/dark-background works better for me. The rationale I’ve found for it is that light-background works fine when you’re not staring at a light source (e.g., when you read a dead-tree book, you get reflected light from the sun/a lamp/bulb/whatever), but not when the thing you are looking at is a light source (your computer screen).

    Regarding lighting, I’ve noted that white light (be it from neon lamps, or the “new” energy-saving lightbulbs) works good, and natural light is best (nothing new here, really).

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