Brendan Dawes
The Art of Form and Code

Eye Health and Working with Screens

For many years now I've been suffering from quite chronic dry eyes, brought about through working with screens, my lack of blinking (you don't blink completely when staring at screens) and other factors. It got so bad at one point I was under the local eye clinic for almost a year. Dry eyes makes your vision blurry, getting so bad to be pretty scary were you can't even make out the text on a screen. To make matters worse I also have a congenital eye defect which means my right eye only functions about 30% or less.

After suffering day to day with it for a long time I now try and look after my eyes a lot better than I used to and I would encourage you to do the same.


One strategy I try and follow is 20-20-20. That is every twenty minutes look away from the screen and look at something at least twenty feet away for at least twenty seconds. There's even a little piece of of Mac software you can install that will remind you to do that called Blinks.

Air conditioning is also another factor that just plays havoc with my eyes. I make sure if I've been in a heavily air conditioned environment such as on a plane or a train I wipe my eyes with non-preservative specialist eye wipes. According to my optician, the non-preservative part is important as wipes or lotion with preservative actually makes your eyes worse.

Fish oils help keep your tear ducts lubricated, but as I'm not a huge fish eater — apart from smoked Salmon and Sushi — I take Cod Liver Oil supplements each day to help keep those tear ducts working best they can.

Artificial tears are another option, especially if your eyes are really dry, but again stay away from anything with preservative in. I use Hyco San Extra when I need to, but it's one of the more expensive options, though it does work well.

Having suffered quite badly over the years, using the strategies above has really helped. For more advice there's some great tips on the Association of Optometrists' site