This is really targetted at Computer Users who complain about how their eyes hurt, especially after a long day of staring at the computer monitor.

I have had 15/20 vision all my life, and I've also been a heavy user of computers since 1979. People ask how the heck I have maintained my eyesight. It is really simple: turn the brightness down!

Here are my tips for adjusting your computer monitor:

  • Display an image that contains a lot of BLACK, not grey, but black image. A perfect example is your boot loader, like lilo, if it doesn't have graphics. The black background should be black, not a shade of grey. If it is, turn down the brightness on your monitor. That is the dial that usually has a picture of a sun (or a circle with lines coming out from it).
  • Now turn down the contrast all the way. That is the dial with the half-filled circle. Turn it up until you can read the text without straining.
  • Now, if your monitor supports color temperature, adjust it to the 6000 or 6500 setting. This has a bit of a yellowish hue to the white, but you'll appreciate it later.

That's it. Note that if you are working on computer graphics, this will NOT make the colors bright and pretty, so you'll probably have to go back to the eye-killing settings. But if you're a coder who is just doing text and web browsing all day, USE THIS. Your eyes will thank you for it.

Even better: do the same thing I mentioned above, but with an LCD screen. CRT monitors are worse for your eyes than LCD.

If you're playing first person shooters like Quake, you will probably have to crank up the brightness dial. Just remember to turn it back down later!

A Quick Bit on Color Schemes

When I originally wrote this node, I was focusing only on monitor settings. The above works fine for any monitor going back to monochrome CRTs from the 1970s, but with the advent of configurable color window managers like Windows where you have a choice of color settings, I have one more piece of advice. Get off that default scheme!

Ever since Windows 1.0, there has been a default color scheme. Somewhere around Windows 2.0 you were able to change it, but most people never do it and they leave it with the default settings. These default settings are BRIGHT white backgrounds with the blue title bars. In my opinion, this color setting isn't optimial for your eyes. Of course, we're not just limited to Windows, but since the majority of people use it, I'll at least start with it for my point.

Without going into technical and difficult to apply color preferences, I suggest trying one scheme that has been in Windows since Windows 95: the 'Plum (high color)' scheme. The point of using this scheme is that the window decorations are not the typical bright grey, and the window backgrounds are off-white. You may not care for the purple accenting, but that's not the point of this scheme, in my mind. Give it a shot for an hour and see if it works for you.

What I've strived for is the perfect balance of colors on my desktop. A lot of people don't know how, and don't bother with adjusting their appearance settings. Granted after you've been using one scheme for a while, it might feel too foreign to have a different scheme. But try it, it might help even more.