Which are the best tips to reduce eye strain while programming?

+2  A: 

Use a screen reader. :-P

Chris Jester-Young
+6  A: 

Put your monitor further from your eyes.

Get a big monitor.

Use a big font.

+13  A: 

I love programming with light foreground on black background. I feel that the darker overall screen helps.

+1 for dark screen. Switching to a darker colorscheme helped me a lot.
Adam Lassek
I disagree on this point. I think programming on a light background with the screen brightness turned way down is nicer. Many people have their monitors set so bright it feels like looking into the sun.
+2  A: 

Take short breaks at least a couple of times an hour. Use eye drops.

EDIT: As mentioned by others, bigger fonts really help. As does a dark background (but this is subjective).

Alexander Kojevnikov
+1  A: 

touch-type with your eyes closed occasionally

take breaks and look at something that doesn't glow

[i am not kidding about either one of these]

Steven A. Lowe
touch typing emails with your eyes closed is much better than touch typing code...
@[ojblass]: practice both!
Steven A. Lowe
+6  A: 

Get up and move every 15 minutes or so. This is also good advice to prevent strain on other parts of your body. Your body is meant to move and it's important to move every once in awhile if only to keep your body functioning properly.

Also don't worry about the little stuff. It doesn't actually matter how close or far you sit from your monitor (within reason), nor does the lighting level affect eye strain -- something proven in recent studies.

Orion Adrian
Citation Needed?
Matt Quail
I must use my PC with the light on otherwise my eyes gets tired.
That must be detrimental to your flow... how do you ever get anything done?
Christopher Parker
+18  A: 
  • Every 15-20 minutes, pause, take a look around the room, focusing on various objects, and then go back to work.
  • Don't forget to blink.
  • Every hour, close your eyes for a couple of minutes.
  • Make sure that your eyes stay hydrated and don't dry out (blinking helps, and so do certain eye drops)
"Don't forget to blink." Surprisingly, I do... Very often.
Gab Royer
Yes and remember to blink.
John K
Cup your palms over your eyes to block out all light, while keeping your eyes open. It relaxes your eyes more than simply closing them.
+4  A: 

Don't work with all the lights off.

Harold Ekstrom
+6  A: 

I recommend you to use dark background themes when coding, white background are so bad to my eyes...

Dark side of Visual Studio

VibrantInk for tired eyes

And also, using a good programming font...

+1  A: 

Look away from your screen every few minutes and focus on something further away.

Harold Ekstrom
+5  A: 

Get your eyes checked (yearly), you might need glasses, or your glasses could be the wrong prescription. (Like if your doctor missed the fact that you have an astigmatism.)

Nathan Feger
Though computer screens don't cause eye problems, they are best for revealing them. Eye strain may be a manifestation of that. Since I wear glasses for astigmatism, my eye strain is considerably reduced.
+6  A: 

Put a mirror behind your monitor on the wall, and look into it every few minutes. It lets you focus on something further away than you could otherwise, while not having to physically move.

I first liked this creative advice, but as a programmer you are probably already moving way too little. So in the long run, everything that encourages you to move even less is bad for you.
+1  A: 

My eye doctor actually prescribed me with very minor corrective reading glasses (even though I am near sighted)... its worked like a charm.

When I don't use them my eyes feel very dry and tired by the end of the day; when I do use them they feel fine.

Giovanni Galbo
+5  A: 

LCD screens dramatically reduced the level of eye strain that I experienced. Switching to a higher contrast colour schema also helped.

+1  A: 

If you're using a digital flat-panel monitor, run it at its native resolution (and then increase font sizes using the operating system's settings as necessary, if text appears too small for your liking). Content on the screen will look a lot sharper.

Jon Schneider

I hydrate my eyes with eye drops everyday. I set my VS with dark background and slightly bright-colored fonts. Closing eyes for few mins every 2 hours.

+1  A: 

If you're still using a CRT (and chances of that are slim), ensure you're using the absolute highest refresh rate. That is, something greater than 60Hz. Any decent CRT should be able to support 70+Hz in it's highest supported resolution. If yours does not, you may want to consider upgrading to an LCD.


I have seen this on Borland tools(is Borland still there?) and Boa Constructor(python IDE), they have this color theme on there IDE's called Twilight, really nice warm colors and easy on the eye, on others editors i try to adjust the editors color to look like Twilight, i just wonder why MS Visual studio & eclipse lacks this color theme!!


Use a TFT and enable ClearType (or equivalent technology). Ensure it is also correctly tuned for your system using the ClearType tuner.


Don't strain if you find text too small, adjust your DPI settings if your resolution makes editing StackOverflow comments painful. ;)

+2  A: 

Get an eye exam and make sure your prescription is up to date. Mild astigmatism in my left eye was giving me crazy migraines, and new glasses fixed this immediately.


I read a while ago that focusing on green/nature-like things can help tired eyes. For example looking at trees if you have the privilege of sitting by a window.

Though I am not too sure on the scientific research behind that, so not too sure whether it really works.

Marcel Tjandraatmadja
+2  A: 

Get plenty of sleep so your eyes are well rested beforehand!

Joe Philllips
+5  A: 

Eyestrain, headaches, neckstrain, back gone to H***...I think it's all related. The best piece of advice is not to get old. Or become a full-time Oppressor of the Masses before you do (so you can have someone type for you). Failing those (as I have), here is my advice for normally-shaped Earth Humans (your mileage may vary).

  • I respectfully disagree with the advice to not sweat the small stuff. I find small details of ergonomics can make a big difference over time. Your monitor should be between two and three feet away from you, in a position where your head is slightly tilted down. Forearms should be parallel to the ground. Same with upper legs/thighs. Use back support while typing.
  • take frequent breaks where you lean back and look at something other than the screen.
  • get up regularly (every 15 minutes? maybe every hour when In The Zone)
  • most importantly: Think more, program less. You are programming even when you're not looking at the screen. You are programming and designing code while you walk...while you eat....while you ride your bike or work out. You can't help it. So get away from that screen regularly. It's better for your eyes and it is probably better for your code too.
+1 for "Think more, program less." - couldn't agree more.

When you go home at night, choose a hobby that doesn't involve staring at yet another screen. Limit the amount of time you spend with internet/video games/television in the evenings. (Easier said than done, I know.)

+1  A: 

read the book relearning to see, i find the information inside to be invaluable. basically i try not to stare, blink often, breathe abdominally, and take regular water/toilet breaks so i can stretch as well.


A while back I started using this tool called Readability. It does a great job at decluttering web pages and letting you focus on the content only. You can set font size bigger, etc. Note that this tool doesn't really work on stackoverflow well but it wasn't designed for a site like this anyways.


Consider using black background and larger fonts. If you are sensitive to too much light, the white background of most IDEs can be a pain, especially if you don't reduce the monitor contrast to a minimum.


Do not forget your monitor has a brightness setting that can be reduced.


Today I was at the doctor for my yearly eye check and came to talk with a lady next to me about dry-eye-syndrom. Out of the blue I imagined that it should be possible to trigger blinking with the help of some visual effect invoked (ir)regularly by a software daemon. This, for me, would be most useful when reading e-texts for a long time. After a while it's difficult to keep up the mental "ping".

Andreas Scherer

I'm visually impaired and using an inverted color scheme helps me a lot. I find white text on a black background much more relaxing and it is easier for me to focus on the screen.


Toggle foreground and background colours:

On Ubuntu (at least) + compiz installed... Default Negative shortcut key : Toggle Window Negative - Super(Windows Key)+N Toggle Screen Negative - Super(Windows Key)+M


read and try this booklet called

Better eyesight without glasses \ Harry Benjamin

it's very small, accurate, simple and natural approach for eye health.\ By practicing it for a year or so i removed my need for glasses(!). He has good daily life tips, which some of them are written in other answers here.

Berry Tsakala
+1  A: 

I used to get eye strain headaches all the time, so I did a ton of stuff to help.

Eyes + Glasses

Go to the doctor and get your eyes checked. If you do anything do this. If you get/have glasses, make sure they have anti-reflective coating to reduce glare. Considering getting a pair of computer glasses (like reading glasses). I've also heard good thing about Gunnar, a company that makes frames and lenses specifically for computer user's and gamers.


  • If you use windows cleartype is a must.
  • If you're using OSX read this article as dealing with their anti aliasing is confusing.
  • If you're using linux there is a clear-type like setting in the font preferences of most dists


To force yourself to take frequent breaks, check out apps such as and Workrave Browsing the web: Try using Default Zoom Level for firefox and apps like blank your monitor *readable* and other stuff. ides Increase the font size drastically, (Control + on a mac), choose a good font, get a better background.

Office Ergonomics

I prefer position my monitor such that my eyes align with about the upper 2/3rds making sure that it is about an arm's length away. This prevents squinting, neck strain, and all that jazz.

Eye strain and neck/back pain are related, so get a better chair (look on coding horror for a good article).

Adjust your monitor brightness so that it is about equal to the brightness of the room you're in

Behavior Modification

  • Drink lots of water. This will hydrate your eyes, call you to have to use the bathroom a lot, which will give your eyes a break.
  • Blink frequently.
  • Take a decent lunch break. This gives your eyes a rest.

Random stuff I haven't categorized yet

  1. Do eye excercies.
  2. Upgrade your monitor to something with better resolution.
  3. Don’t use dual monitors – (or at least only have one primary one) having two monitors means they have to be farther away for you to see both of them wihtout having eye strain. Use only one.
    1. Put your monitor on the lowest brightness and the best contrast you can.
    2. Use a dark background background in your IDE.
Thank you scottschulthess and EVERYONE ELSE your tips really helped me ;-) my brightness was on full and giving me headaches.
+1  A: 

Turn the brightness on your screen down, and turn some lights on around you. Staring into a bright monitor in a darkened room is terrible. Even if you think your brightness is fine, drop it down a notch or two and leave it there for a while. You might like it.

I find many LCDs ship from the factory with their brightness set too high, and then people never adjust them. High brightness makes for great in-store demonstrations, but if your screen is brighter than your surroundings, it'll start to hurt.


Sit in the dark and lower the brightness to a level that is suitable to you. Dark on Light works best for these situations. Higher resolution screens and larger text both help as well.

People think that working in a bright room helps things for some reason, when really you're only putting more strain on your eyes because you're adding more light to a problem in which we have too much light.

This is the same as if you were to add water to a bucket because it is overflowing.

Stay hydrated. Drink water. Not Coffee, not Soda/Pop, not Energy Drinks, or Beer (sorry), but Water. You'll likely find yourself losing a little weight too. 1 Can of Coke/day = 15 pounds extra weight total.

Take breaks. Not only for your eyes, but for your mind, and your hands too. This is the PERFECT EXCUSE TO KEEP LEGOS AT YOUR DESK. I know you want to. Moderation is the key. Always. In Legos and in work.