If I am anywhere near a computer, you will usually see me wearing my Gunnars. I’ve affectionately dubbed them my “nerd glasses”. I wear them primarily when I am working on the computer. I also sometimes wear them if I am watching TV or driving at night.
I get asked about these glasses a lot. This is not a hipster thing, I promise. After a few years of coding, I started to notice pain behind my eyes at the end of a day. Also, my sleep patterns were beginning to deteriorate. I did a little research and quickly learned how the daily increased exposure to the blue light from computers at such a close proximity can potentially damage the eyes in the long run. Not all blue light is bad, in fact we need it to help stave off depression and give us a boost of energy during the day. The sun is a primary source of blue light, but it emits other colors as well in the correct balance. If you notice in the mornings and evenings, the blue wavelength is much smaller, allowing for yellow and red lights to be dominant. This tells our brain to secrete melatonin at the proper times, setting our circadian rhythm in balance.
I work in a very dark office. It has been a point of contention for everyone because so many of us prefer lighting conditions polar opposite of each other. When placed in a brighter working space, the “dark dwellers” moan in agony like vampires trapped under the sun’s rays. The “light dwellers” end up covering their desks with lamps or gravitate to an open window somewhere just to get a sense of the correct time of day. It’s a common issue I’ve found with developers and I often laugh that this is the primary reason why many coders are so pale. Regardless of the lighting condition, we are still too close to blue light for too much of our days. Eye strain from computers is known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and it is most likely caused by our computer screens being our direct source of light.
When I go home, my brain can’t tell if it is day or night. Getting my brain to start winding down for sleep is a struggle, my thoughts are going 100 MPH and they won’t shut up! I attribute it to the visible blue light’s higher energy and a shorter wavelength on the spectrum telling my brain to wake up even when it’s time to sleep.
Aside from the eye strain, personally I find being in the dark all day really messes with me. I feel more depressed and struggle to stay motivated to put in my best work because Vitamin D. It just doesn’t feel healthy to me, but I’m not about to get into a massive power struggle over the lights with my co-workers. People are nuts about their light, y’all. SMH.
So I installed f.lux on my computer and changed the settings on my iPhone to emit a more yellow/red tone during the evening hours. Then I started wearing Gunnars. They are advertised as computer/gaming glasses. I don’t think they are just for coders or gamers. I think anyone who stares at a screen all day would greatly benefit. Even with wearing them, I still have to take frequent breaks. The suggested time is every 20 minutes, but that is impossible for a developer. We need a good solid block of 1-3 hours to get anything done. Interruptions every 20 minutes is extremely inefficient and shifting gears really wastes time. Wearing the Gunnars helps me get through those coding blocks while I keep the discipline to take multiple computer breaks a day.
This has helped a ton! I instantly feel the relief in my eyes after a long day at work. I also start to feel tired at the right times, which is just my internal clock working like it should. As a mom, I can’t afford to feel like crap. My family does not get the best version of me. When my body tells me it’s tired, I need to honor that signal, do myself a favor and rest. No amount of coffee can prop me up or properly fuel my day like a good night’s sleep. So I am very protective of it because it not only makes me a good coder but a better mom.
Need more info? Check out Michelle Tam’s testimony of using Amber-tinted glasses for her night-shifts. Or Chris Kresser’s explanation of how artificial light affects our sleep patterns. Give it a try! They literally take no extra effort and I’ve found the payoff to be big. Save your eyes and avoid starting a light war with your co-workers.
What is your lighting preference? What things have you found to reduce eye strain?
Note: This is not a paid endorsement of Gunnar Optics nor do I receive any kickbacks. This is purely my sole opinion and personal experience with this product and others mentioned in this article.