Free apps to reduce eyestrain

Many people are required to stare at a computer screen for several hours a day as part of their occupation. Others spend a lot of time each day looking at mobile phone, tablet or television screens for long periods. As a result, eyestrain is becoming an increasingly common issue, which may result in long-term damage to your vision, or cause sore eyes and headaches in the short term.

Sore eyes are your body’s way of telling you that you need a break from looking at a screen. Following these tips should help to minimize the effects of digital eyestrain: 

  • use the 20/20/20 rule – take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away
  • dim the amount of overhead and surrounding light
  • adjust your screen to be directly in front of your face and slightly below eye level
  • maintain some distance between yourself and your screen. If you are sitting in front of a computer, you should be able to extend your arm until your palm hits the screen
  • enlarge your screen text for easier viewing
  • clean your screen in order to minimize glare
  • staring at digital screens can lead to dry eyes, so it’s important to blink regularly
  • talk to your eye doctor about lenses with an anti-reflective coating which can help reduce the glare from digital screens.

For those of you who are not too good at keeping eye-health checklists or sticking to schedules, click NEXT for seven free apps which may help to prevent or reduce eyestrain.

F.lux
F.lux adjusts the glow of your monitor based on the time of day – and not just the overall brightness – but the screen tint as well. It’s easy to install and runs on most operating systems. 

Download F.lux
(available for Mac, Windows, Linux, and iPhone)


Awareness
Awareness is a free app for Mac and Windows which reminds you to take regular breaks away from your screen. Simply type in the amount of time that you’d like to work uninterrupted, then set a time allowance for a break from the screen. Once you’ve been at the computer for your set amount of minutes, Awareness lets you know when it’s time for a break. 

Download Awareness
(available for Mac and Windows)
 

ProtectYourVision
ProtectYourVision allows you to use a default ‘20-20-20’ plan, or you can customise your own break plan. The app beeps when it’s time for your break, and blacks out your screen for the duration of those few minutes. PrtoectYourVision also gives you suggestions for eye exercises which you can do during your break time.

Download ProtectYourVision
(available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari)
 

Twilight
If you have a mobile device which runs on Android and want to employ similar technology to that which F.lux utilises, you should try using Twilight. 

Download Twilight
(available for Android)
 

Time Out
The Time Out app gives you a set plan which involves 50 minute blocks of working time interspersed with 10 minute breaks. It also adds 10-second micro-breaks which occur throughout your work time. Your screen will fade out to let you know when it’s time to rest your eyes, and then fade back in when the break is completed.

Download TimeOut
(available for Mac)
 

eyeCare
This clever Google Chrome extension reminds you to take eye rest-breaks. The eyeCare app goes by the 20-20-20 plan, but you can also create your own schedule. 

Download eyeCare
(available for Chrome)
 

Eye Pro
Eye Pro is a Windows app that not only aims at reducing eye strain but also focuses on keeping your eyes properly moisturised. Research shows that we blink less when we use a computer. Eye Pro displays reminders, which encourage you to rest your eyes, and to blink so you can restore natural eye moisture. The app also includes tips for some good eye exercises. 

Download Eye Pro
(available for Windows)
 

These tips and apps can help to reduce eyestrain, but if you have persistent eye fatigue or pain you should visit an eye doctor for an evaluation, in case you have an underlying medical condition. 

Read more about digital eye strain at TheVisionCouncil.org.

For more information about the applications mentioned in this article, visit LifeHack.org.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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