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Old 04-25-2006, 08:51 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Stop squinting - eyestrain problems caused by small screens

If you're one of the many people who use their handheld every day, you may experience eyestrain as a result. The Wall Street Journal has a write up of how especially younger folks suffer from vision difficulties due to prolonged sessions of reading or looking at tiny computer screens.

As use of portable hand-held gadgets soars, America is becoming a nation of squinters who spend hours hunched over gadgets like PDAs, cellphones, game devices and iPods, straining to read small text everywhere from dimly lighted restaurants to sunny park benches. With mobile technology growing increasingly sophisticated -- allowing people to surf the Web, build PowerPoint presentations and watch "The Daily Show" on screens barely larger than a postage stamp -- many users say they are experiencing eyestrain... Some opticians say the tiny fonts on the gadgets are leading a wave of younger people to seek reading glasses. Most people start noticing age-related vision declines around age 40, as the eye's internal lens loses elasticity. While no one is suggesting that the small screens are causing people's vision to deteriorate faster, some opticians say the small type on portable gadgets is making people aware of minor vision shortcomings at younger ages.

The article goes on explaining how tech companies are trying to address this problem by introducing new technologies:
  • Microsoft adapted new fonts designed for small handheld screen (e.g. Frutiger Linotype).
  • Motorola's forthcoming phones will have the option to enlarge the type size.
  • Sony will introduce the electronic book, the Sony Reader, to mimic the experience of reading on paper with a screen that reflects natural light.
  • Palm uses transflective screens that have a backlight for low-light situations, but also have the capacity to reflect natural light. Also, the glass displays on Palm handhelds are treated with special polarized films that bend light in ways that allow users to see the screen clearly from many angles.

To prevent eyestrain the article recommends to take frequent breaks and - I first put off writing about this because I wasn't ready in my heart to accept it - to avoid using mobile gadgets for a long time.

So what do you do to keep your eyes fresh after hours in front of your monitor? Let's us know your best tips!
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Old 04-25-2006, 09:24 AM   #2
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So what do you do to keep your eyes fresh after hours in front of your monitor? Let's us know your best tips!
Walking with my dog - is the best rest for my eyes
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Old 04-25-2006, 09:36 AM   #3
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Walking the dog helps, yes.
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Old 04-25-2006, 09:47 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander
To prevent eyestrain the article recommends to take frequent breaks and - I first put off writing about this because I wasn't ready in my heart to accept it - to avoid using mobile gadgets for a long time.

So what do you do to keep your eyes fresh after hours in front of your monitor? Let's us know your best tips!
I find that I do get eyestrain, but more from long periods of time at the desktop computer than from the mobile device. I can actually read for long periods on my Treo 650 with less eyestrain than long periods reading a paper book. I don't set the Treo ebook fonts as small as I'd like to anymore, and I get to choose my favorite font. I don't read in strong light either, so I don't have to worry about glare.

I can't tell you why it works that way for me except that when I read a regular book, it is tough on my eyes (my vision is fading a bit anyway) and often looks very "busy" on the printed page with the typical typefaces used in novels. But on a Treo with my favorite font, and blown up just a bit, it is more relaxing. Could be that I'm fooling myself because I like doing just about anything better on my Treo, but I don't think so.
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Old 04-25-2006, 10:45 AM   #5
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BobR, my experience is just the opposite. I've been bouncing back and forth between the Palm Z22 and a EB1150, and a trade paperback of the same book for the last week. My biggest beef with the electronic devices is having the backlight shining directly in my eyes; with the Palm it isn't so bad since I can set it for a black background with light text, but the EB1150 has really poor brightness/contrast adjustments.

Traditional paperbacks do suffer from having a small typeface and tight leading, and that can be problematic at times.

All this makes me real interested in seeing one of these eInk devices, if they ever actually show up in the states (this spring, no this summer, wait, in the fall definitely, unless not).
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Old 04-25-2006, 11:03 AM   #6
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I can hear it already... Honey, I have to buy this e-ink device. It's not just a cool gadget, it's medicinal. You just can't take a chance on something as important as your eyesight. ;-)
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Old 04-25-2006, 11:35 AM   #7
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For me, as soon as something Treo-ish comes out with eInk I will be happy. I, like many, like being able to set my own comfy fonts, and then having teh backlight makes nasty florcesnts or dim conditions, not so much an issue.

Until then, tis good to be hearing about all the new teck that is going on. The next many years should be nice to our eyes (finally).
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Old 04-26-2006, 01:22 PM   #8
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I've actually had to give up reading on my Tungsten E because it's just too hard on my eyes. I get eye pain after a very short time. I do not experience any eyestrain when reading paper books, and hardly any eyestrain when reading computer screens - but the Palm does it to me, somehow. I can't wait for e-paper.
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Old 04-26-2006, 07:52 PM   #9
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If you wear glasses and get eyestrain reading a small screen, then try taking the glasses off. Without my glasses, I can read my T|X's screen for as long as I want without any problems.

For a desktop computer, the best advice I can give is relatively large fonts (10-12 px minimum, depending on your resolution), and sit back. It's much easier to use a computer screen for a long time if you're more than a foot away from it (as I type this, I'm leaning back into a chair, eyes about a metre away from the screen).

And if you're still using a CRT monitor, dump it, buy a LCD, and cite health reasons if anyone asks why.
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Old 04-27-2006, 03:29 AM   #10
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And if you're still using a CRT monitor, dump it, buy a LCD, and cite health reasons if anyone asks why.
Ha, "dump it"
May be you can advise a concrete model of lcd monitor (no matter how much it costs), wich can be better than crt for professional work with color?
Nowdays I'll dump any lcd from my working place. In a couple years - will see...
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