#5onFri: Five Eye Care Tips for Writers

by Reza Hassanirad
published in Community

Thanks to those two magnificent orbs nestled under your brow, you’re able to read this sentence. Our eyes are astonishingly complex wonders that allow us to imbibe and navigate the myriad shapes and colors of our world. For the committed reader and writer, it’s easy to take the marvelous pair for granted over the days and years of scanning verse, perusing the latest novel or revising a bloated sentence. So, it’s important to be all eyes to the health and well-being of our hardworking apertures. Here are some general eye care tips to keep your peepers peepin’:

1) Make that appointment!

First and foremost, see an eye care professional. You want to entrust your sight to those trained in vision care. Their advice is more important than a casual Google search or this article.

But my eyes are fine, you say, no need to fit in a visit in my already busy schedule. Well, there are eye conditions that can be asymptomatic, and the eyes can reveal other systemic health issues, so even if you’re not experiencing any problems it’s important to see a professional for proper maintenance and monitoring.

An annual exam should be a must. Usually the first eye professional you’ll see is an optometrist. If needed, you might be referred to an ophthalmologist, who is a medical doctor and can provide services beyond primary vision care.

(If you ever experience a sudden onset of floaters, flashes, shower of lights, or curtain-like shadow in your field of vision, you need to immediately contact your eye care professional or visit an emergency room as it can be a vision-threatening emergency.)

2) Triple 20 rule

Much of our time is spent in close-distance work, starting at screens of various sizes, often uninterrupted for long stretches. This can strain our eyes, leaving us with neck tightness, blurry vision and tense temples – hardly conducive for creative flow. Incorporating the 20-20-20 rule into your daily routine might spare your temples the kneading of angry knuckles.

Basically, every 20 minutes turn away from the screen (yes, you can), look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. This helps your eyes relax, refocus and refresh. It can also allow for a mental reset. And your back might thank you, too, if you stand up to do it.

Worried about the hassle of keeping track? Use Tomato Timer for customizable reminders, which can also be helpful with timing chunked tasks.

3) Blink!

Reading in general and on screens in particular can reduce how often we blink, which can exacerbate dry eyes, so consciously blinking more often might offset the impact of eye strain. Active blinking can also serve as a reminder to take deep, relaxing breaths.

Moreover, ensuring ideal workstation ergonomics (monitor angle, screen setting, lighting, glare) can help with ocular optimization.

4) Text-to-audio

Now let’s cut digital technology some slack and look at ways it can rest our eyes, namely, through the auricular.

Many of us are accustomed to processing information visually, so shifting from reading texts to listening to them might require a bit of patience and training, particularly for fiction. The unending and diverse supply of online material that can be taken in through the ears (Youtube, TED Talks, podcasts, audiobooks, Bloggingheads TV) provides enough options to dramatically cut down reading time.

The notion that to be a good writer you have to be a good and prolific reader can be given a 21st century re-imagining: to be a good writer you have to be a good and prolific consumer of content. As long as that content can be processed and absorbed in a fruitful way, whether for ideas, craft, or entertainment, it doesn’t really matter how it’s delivered.

Of course, it does take some getting used to, but a concerted effort to train your mind in focused listening can gift your eyes with much needed vacation time. You can even train yourself to listen to material on 1.25x to 2x playback speed, making you a lean, mean information machine.

5) Speech-to-text

Draw down your lids and let your mouth do some of the heavy lifting. Speech-to-text software will allow you to compose that award-winning novel or poem with your eyes closed and your fingers tented in front of you in focused, creative serenity.

Free speech-to-text software can be serviceable but you might want to opt for versions that learn and adapt to your speech style over time, significantly reducing transcription errors. Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a popular program with regularly updated iterations.

Like audio-to-text, this way of crafting your work might take time and effort to master but it’s worth it as you’ll have a new option in case you hit a block with traditional methods. Speech-to-text is all talk, and all action.

Keep an eye out

Always be watchful of your eyes and listen up to what they have to say. You have a lot of reading and writing to do, so take care of your spherical allies!

Reza Hassanirad has worked in a variety of fields and loves to apply the art of clear thinking and clear communication to any project. He strongly suspects that helping people develop a love for literature just might save the world.


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