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Easy on the eyes

Hi guys,

I spend an awful amount of time looking at text on a computer monitor (as I'm sure you all do), and to be honest it's beginning to hurt my eyes and give me migraines.

So...do any of you have any recommendations for good monitors that might ease my pain?  I also think I heard somewhere that Windows XP has some new font technology that makes text easier to read, has anyone tried this? Is it any good?

Do you have any other recommendations that might help me (apart from obvious things like frequent screen breaks).  Are there any optimum resolutions, refresh rates, contrast, brightness settings?

My eyes thank you in advance,
Sherlock

sherlock_yoda
Friday, April 12, 2002

The XP thing only works with an LCD screen and the technology is described on www.grc.com.

I don't know if this works, but this certainly looks interesting:

http://www.cia.com.au/vic/faq.html

Mark W
Friday, April 12, 2002

"The XP thing only works with an LCD screen"

IMHO, it ("Intelli-Blur") looks great on CRT monitors also...

Duncan Smart
Friday, April 12, 2002

I was basing what I said on the article I read on GRC.com where he goes in-depth about the technology, and something I read here, I have no direct experience with windows XP, heck I've only *seen* it once in the Sony Store.

Mark W
Friday, April 12, 2002

OH, and here's some obvious advice that may not have crossed your mind - go see a specialist. Maybe your eyes are changing and you need glasses/to change your perscription.

Mark W
Friday, April 12, 2002

Well, the only computer hardware solution I'd suggest would be a different moniter. Someone suggested an LCD, which is a good idea. But if that's not your thing for whatever reason (display area, price, low refresh rate, whatever), try a good CRT.

Now most CRT moniters just suck. I was having problems on my low-refresh 17". It's too slow, was painful to look at. My solution was to get a Sony. I have a E400, which is a 19" moniter that supports resolutions up to 1800x1440@65hz. Now, the text will be really tiny and be a problem, but what I did was drop the res to 1024x768@85hz. It's damned fast, I can no longer see the refresh. And the text is nice and big and clear. It's a bit pricey, but I HOPE :) that it will last a while (I've had better luck w/ sony moniters than 'proview' and 'supercom', so I expect it to be worth the money). Your eyes (and sanity...) are worth it :)

Mike Swieton
Friday, April 12, 2002

Re: ClearType, or "intelliblur" - I just bought a laptop with XP, and you will not beleive what a relief it was when I found out how to turn that thing OFF (the factory setting was ON). All by a sudden, everything was crystal clear on the screen, and not a blurry mess of miscolored lines. It had sort of the same effect as a CRT monitor with bad ray convergence.

I've never had any "terminal illess" myself, and it might have to do with

1 - not sitting too close to the screen
2 - keeping the contrast setting as low as the environment allows
3 - not using small type with high resolution
4 - keeping the environment reasonably lit up

... I know it has nothing to do with how expensive the screen is. I have always been using the cheapest screens I could get.

B
Friday, April 12, 2002

I remember reading somewhere that you should keep your monitor about as bright as the surrounding environment (or v.v.). Dunno if that's true or not.

I bet OSHA (Occupational Safety and Hazards somethingorother) has some stuff on this, perhaps some research into OSHA standards will point to any flaws in your set up.

Mark W
Friday, April 12, 2002

I've been using XP since I got a beta installed.  I installed it just to see what it would look like and just LOVED the ClearType.  The fonts are clear, crisp and easy to read.  It's so painful to use a non-ClearType machine now :)  It does show up best on an LCD screen.

My best advice is judge for yourself.  Visit a computer store that has laptops running XP and turn ClearType off and on a few times and see what you think.

The best thing I've found for my eyes was to wear glasses and not contacts.  In my case the contacts just dried out to quickly. YMMV.  And the proper prescription makes a difference too. 

I'm also happer with a larger font size.  Also not just frequest breaks but look at something far away then close again.  Far away as in the next block down.  Doing that regularly can really help your eye strain.

Bill Graziano
Friday, April 12, 2002

People might disagree with me on this, but about 99% of the time I work in the "High Contrast #2" theme under w2k. Green text on a black background (doesn't it remind you of old times?).

BTW, this setup will also reveal any applications that inadvertently hard coded their font colors (and there are a lot!)

-james

James Wann
Friday, April 12, 2002

I have a screen for my monitor, I think it helps.

Tony
Friday, April 12, 2002

Room lighting also makes a big difference for some people. If you're working under flourescents, try turning them OFF and getting an incandescent lamp. If you've got a light reflecting off the screen, get curtains, or point the lamp in another direction, or shade it with a file folder - whatever it takes. This doesn't work for everyone, but when it does it's a lot cheaper than a new monitor.

Mike Gunderloy
Friday, April 12, 2002

I can recommend buying a good LCD. I have just recently switched to a 19" LCD (Iiyama AU4831D) with a resolution of 1600x1200.

The colors on this particular model are absolutely perfect though the refresh rate makes playing games like Quake 3 difficult.

However, if you want it for work only it's probably the best you can get at the moment, though not quite cheap.

It is also recommended that you change from whitebackgrounds in your windows (ie your code editor) to something slightly darker. This will reduce the strain on your eyes considerably.

A color that workes well for me is:

(RGB) 251,252,225

I use this as the background color in IDEA, my Java editor, and I can now look at code for longer periods of time.

The font option that was mentioned before doesn't work well for me but my monitor displays everything perfectly anyway so there's no need for font corrections.

I will never switch back to CRT.

I hope this helps...

Patrick Ansari
Friday, April 12, 2002

For those using XP's ClearType (which I love, but my girlfriend hates), here is a page that has an ActiveX control that'll let you tweak the settings:

http://www.microsoft.com/typography/cleartype/cleartypeactivate.htm?fname=%20&fsize

Kevin Tieskoetter
Friday, April 12, 2002

That reminds me, my sister had a problem with flourescent lights and got those pinkish screens that cover them and to cut down the harsh yellows and greens and that helped.

Mark W
Friday, April 12, 2002

Headaches are sometimes caused by inappropriate lighting, such as having the screen near a window, or having bright overhead lights.

These situations force the eye to continually adjust its light exposure between the screen and the brighter surrounds, or between normal and reflecting parts of the screen. This tires the muscle that adjusts the size of the pupil, causing pain interpreted as headaches.

As well as causing headaches, inappropriate lighting makes it harder to maintain concentration on the screen and thus the work.

Most developers naturally set up their environment properly, with the screen away from direct light and sometimes in a relatively dim environment.

Another factor to watch out for is that prolonged staring at a screen reduces the blink rate for some people, and this can lead to the eye drying out and becoming extremely sore, especially if the air conditioning is too dry. This problem can be fixed using artificial-tear eye-drops.

Hugh Wells
Friday, April 12, 2002

I've been using ClearType on my laptop under XP for several months now and I absolutely love it.  My boss came in one day, told me to click on desktop properties without really telling me what was going on and I haven't turned it off since.  I also enabled it on my girlfriend's computer with a CRT and while she wasn't as impressed with it as I was, she also hasn't turned it off.

The biggest difference is there's one site I go to that for whatever dunderheaded reason uses really tiny (8pt) fonts.  Being lazy I really don't feel like changing the font size when I go there and changing it back when I leave.  It's made a world of difference for me for not only that site but others as well (most notably those with Times-Roman fonts). 

I can also really tell the difference in my eyes which used to ache after a day of work.

Chris

Chris Blaise
Saturday, April 13, 2002

Refresh rate is the #1 thing to check IMO.

IIRC, 60Hz is the default under Win2k, and I'm always surprised to see how many people choose not to change the default.

60Hz flickers. To quickly test this, I usully look/focus slightly to the side of (or above) the monitor. The flicker should be blatantly obvious at this point.

I'm unable to detect flicker at 75Hz, but I seldom accept a setting below 85Hz. If possible, I'd go for 100Hz, just in case...

My current setting here at home, on my 19" ViewSonic is 1152x864 @ 100Hz. I use the "Plum" colour scheme (Desktop properties, Appearance tab) in order to avoid bright whites in most windows (unfortunately most web sites tend to prefer bright white for some reason), and when using Delphi I even use the "Classic" colour scheme (yellow on blue, just like good ol' Turbo Pascal's editor).

--
Rune

Rune Moberg
Saturday, April 13, 2002

BTW: I found this review yesterday of a calibration device for your monitor. It'll help you adjust an optimum contrast/brightness setting and might help to relieve eyestrain:
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/colorvisionmonitorspyder/

HTH

--
Rune

Rune Moberg
Monday, April 15, 2002

There are a number of devices like this on the market. I believe Pantone has one as well. "Professional" graphic designers might want one to ensure that whatever colors they're seeing on their monitor are the same as the ones that will be printed and/or at a median point with other monitors.

Mark W
Monday, April 15, 2002

1) A good monitor.  Hitachi, Sony, NEC are all generally good investments.  Pay a bit more for quality and it will outlast two or three bargains.

2) A video card that does text well.  Matrox was always the standard here, but they are useless for 3D games.  NVidia has a lousy reputation for rendring text, so if 3D performance is an issue look at ATI Radeon.

3) Push the refresh rate as high as your video card and monitor combination will allow.

4) Drop back on the brightness control.  For most monitors I end up setting them to the minimum brightness.

5) Boost the contrast controll.

RH
Monday, April 15, 2002

6) Get your eyes checked.

7) If you wear eyeglasses, consider getting a pair of computer eyeglasses.

8) If you look into computer eyeglasses, check out PRIO.

RH
Monday, April 15, 2002

I'd recommend you to try the keyboard with highlighted buttons (a patented thing) from EluminX, www.eluminx.com

Iiiyama 4831 - seems one of the best hi-resolution LCD's. I'm going to buy it soon.

Oleg Lisovsky
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

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