Unwanted optical adjustments

Type designers are well-versed in adjusting the round shapes in a typeface—the typical example, the “O” in a geometric sans serif design—from a perfect circle, into something that looks optically balanced.

While we’re looking closely at our screen, some other optical elongations we don’t want, might be slowly occurring within our eyes. Myopia, or nearsightedness, is becoming increasingly common across populations, and we’re probably giving our eyes less of a break than ever.

“Being on the computer for hours on end isn’t good for your health,” isn’t exactly news, but I did find this article in The Guardian on eye shape and health more specific than the usual screens-are-bad. One practical piece of advise was to reduce the possibility of nearsightedness by,

taking breaks which help eyes rest, blink and lubricate. Then there’s the 20-20-20 model. “Every 20 minutes, look at a distance 20 feet away, for 20 seconds,” Hariharan advises.

Every 20 minutes is…really often. But of course are all getting up to stretch that often anyway, so…

I was also surprised that the studies focused on the proximity of objects, not specifically at screen usage. The cited study from the UK looked at indoor time spent reading compared to outdoor time. Another larger study looked at students in China before and after home learning.

There are questions posed of the on the latter paper’s authors, asking whether it’s too convenient to blame this on remote learning. The wider suggestion that myopia is affecting more people, and more young people, would still seem to stand.

So this is your (and my) friendly reminder to stare into the middle-plus distance today—although I certainly won’t be doing it on a timer.


P.S. Have a different eye exercise I should try? Feel free to send it to me.