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3 ways to protect your eyes if you are a programmer

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3 ways to protect your eyes if you are a programmer

Your eyes are typically under constant barrage and stress on a day to day basis. Everything from direct sunlight to poor lighting conditions can cause us to strain and squint and essentially just put our eyes in unnecessary stress.

As a programmer, that can be made worse by having to stare at a dark backgroud with a bright multi-colored font for hours per day. Or a light background with a darker font if that is to your liking.

To help out, here are 3 things that you can do today to help alleviate some strain from our most widely used sensory organ. I myself do all of these and have found that I no longer get tired throughout the course of the day. My eyes get less irritated overall, and while I still wear glasses I can go periods of time without fully relying on them.

3. Blue-blocking glasses

You have probably seen them before. They typically have some type of orange or yellow tint to the lense and look like your typical reading or sunglasses. Blue-blocking glasses do just that. They block the blue-tint from any light coming into your eyes.

Why do we hate the blue-tint? We really don't. And it's actually somewhat important to get just enough during the right parts of the day so that your body can make the right hormones for being "awake".

The problems tend to occur when you are expose to too much blue-light and particularly all day long and late into the night.

I recommend Gunnar Optics as the blue-blocker of choice for a few reasons, but the main one being that they have been  around for a long time, even before every tech CEO in the country jumped on the bandwagon. They also offer various degrees of blue-blocking so that you aren't completely negating it. And I'll be honest, they look pretty stylish.

They offer various styles and themes to choose from and also support prescription lenses, which if you grew up staring at TV's, playing video games and in front of a computer as I did, you will probably need.

2. Install a blue-light filter on your PC

If you don't feel like wearing a pair of orange-tinted lenses, you can also just install a blue-light filtering software on your computer. These filters act essentially the same way as the lenses. They removed a percentage of the blue color from your screen and give you a more red tint overall.

You have a few options when it comes to what to choose and why to choose it here. I personally use flux on my windows machine because I've found it to be the most reliable so far and it is free to use.

There are "better" paid-for alternatives however if you are really serious about eye-protection and about not disrupting your daily circadian rhythm.

You can also set up a blue light filter on your mobile device as both Android and iOS now have built in native blue blocking built in. Though I have found these to be very limiting as far as intensity goes.

My go to blue-blocker on my phone is currently Twilight. While not 100% free as they do have a paid model, I've found that they offer a much higher level of blue-light removal to the point where your entire screen can look read.

Fair warning, this makes browsing the web very difficult and overall boring.

1. Exercise your eyes

Your eyes have tons of muscle and ligaments contracting thousands of times per day so that you can better see and avoid predators. But because the predators are all but gone now and because our eyes don't even have to move left or right anymore, these muscles tend to get weaker over time.

So how do you train your eyes? Well.The same way that you would train any other muscle group in your body. You perform repetitions for sets until you are tired of seeing, and then you make sure to recover.

There is one particular app that I personally use for this. It's free, has a ton of built-in documentation about eye-care and has unique eye exercises that I have not found anywhere else.

The app is called Eye Care Plus and can be found for both iOS and for Android and as mentioned, it is completely free. The exercises are relatively quick and a 5 minute session twice per day might be more than enough for the typical coder.

If we are going to be spending hours per day staring at artificial light patterns and avoiding natural light, then we should definitely take the time to repair the damage that this may cause long term. Just a few key things to keep in mind of 

Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.


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