Take a break (from the screen) with this super app – for Windows

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We all spend ‘n’ number of hours in a day (and even more at night) looking at a screen; our mobiles, laptops, tablets, TV (I don’t watch much of TV, but still its’ a screen). Think about it. That ‘n’ presumably would be more than 3 hours, wouldn’t it? Or 6. Maybe 9. Is the number too high?

“Naw, not 9”, you argue. “Lesser.”, you might even add.

Well, according to a recent report by CNN, Americans (as they call people in general) spend more than 10 hours of a day staring at their screens. That’s on an average. So that means we spend more than 10 hours, and some rare days, lesser. But still, that’s a big number. That’s more than half of your awake time. That 10 comes from the 16 hours of the day you have outside of sleep (if you’re a capable sleeper of 8 hours that is). And If you’re in the IT sector, this number would be the bare minimum. Scary. Thinking about it on that level itself is taxing. Try to imagine how much strain the eye is taking. Scary. Again. I’m going to talk of the desktop level problem here.

When we sit in front a screen, the only thing that’s visibly moving in our body would be our eyes. It would be fixated at its task, whether it’s a game, or while reading, or even watching a movie. There are instances when you will be so rooted to the scenario, that you wouldn’t want to blink. And at times you never would be blinking because you don’t think of it, as all the other sensory receptors have taken the proverbial back seat as you stare into digital limbo. This is taxing not just for the eyes, but for the body as a whole. And your eyes suffer the most.

Your eyes are protected by the eyelids for two particular reasons. One is to keep it moist and cool, and the other is to protect it from dust and debris that floats around in the air. If something lands on the eye momentarily, the eyelids immediately does a reactionary wash by blinking repeatedly. Same thing when the eyes suddenly dry out when it’s windy or when you keep  your eyes open a bit too long. This is all done without our conscious intervention. We never think about it. It just happens. Statistically, the human eyes blinks from 10-20 times in a minute on a minimum.

And what happens if this blinking doesn’t happen? The eyeballs start drying up so bad, and thanks to the sensory reception shutdown that I mentioned of earlier, no bodily reaction happens, the drying up keeps its pace till scars and tears appear on microscopic levels over the soft tissue structure that is your eye. Just like the scars on a dry, arid desert. Well not that bad, but you can imagine.

OMGMYEYESSS!!!!

OMG MY EYESSS!!!!

And this goes on till you’re forced to have a damned blink. Before you know it, your eyes would be tearing up for some moisture, ending up with forced tears, and a water well on your lower eyelid. That’s when you come to your senses, because your body just went into alert mode, with you wiping your eyes, thinking, ‘what the heck just happened’, depending on what you were doing all along.  All of this is reactionary. And I’m sure that many of us face this on a daily basis.

That brings us to the point.

We people, just. don’t. blink.
Simple as that.

There are those mindfully gifted ones who are capable of doing it on purpose; taking a break when required from the screen, either with deliberate blinks, stretches or stand-ups. But for the majority of us zombies, we need to be forced to blink. A sudden hand popping out of nowhere to slap us over the face, or maybe that something that catches your attention from outside of screen space (as noted by your third eye, congratulations that you have one), or someone tugging at you or asking you a question, can force you to that random and rare break. Once you’re off the screen-induced-drug, your body immediately starts catching up with the reactionary procedures again. Unknowingly. But this is all too much to ask for, and too late into consequences as well. We need to be doing this on a regular basis to protect our eyes from the long run damage. But we aren’t.

So what’s a fix, you ask?

Let me introduce to you this mighty little pop-up app for Windows, EyeLeo. (tadaaa!)

Short breaks with EyeLeo

Short breaks with EyeLeo

This smart little software runs in the background and keeps reminding you to take a break every now and then.

On default settings, every 10 minutes will feature a short break, with 8 or more seconds (adjustable – I changed it to 15) of small eye exercises. You would be asked to roll your eyes, look at distant objects, close your eyes tightly, or simply blink during this time. The longer break that stretches after the hour mark of screen time makes you take a break from your seat itself, with you being asked to even go take a walk. That is set for a minimum of 4 minutes on default.

Long break

Long break

There is even a strict mode which works for the really stubborn. 😛

All in all, I am entirely impressed with this neat app. Oh btw, did I mention that this is FREE? After using it for a good while, I feel the developer, Alexander Garustovich, really deserves more than just an acknowledgement. This is good work. This really deserves a donation.

Added Bonus: This app really made me conscious of how much time I spend on the computer and what I do with the time. 10 minutes fly like seconds once you see the frequency at which the breaks appear, and before you know it, the hour is gone. An added plus of having a super time management mechanism hidden in the background.

Another Added Bonus: A few days into using this software, I noticed that I started being more aware of the way I use my eyes while working, and how much more I started blinking occasionally without even being reminded about it in between breaks. The mere presence of the software in the background has changed my usage patterns.

+ Small, light and extremely handy in doing the task of diverting your attention and forcing you to take a much needed break.

I did notice one thing though; while playing a game, the app thinks that the laptop has gone into standby mode, and the breaks don’t come in between. When that happens, it thinks that we have taken a good long break from the screen, resetting it’s timer the for the next hour the moment we come back to the desktop.

EyeLeo can be downloaded here, and it’s just under 4 MB.

Thanks to my siblings who initiated this topic with a talk the other day.

Happy blinking!

Cheers! 🙂

p.s. Btw, by taking a break, we don’t mean this 😛

And by taking a break, we don't mean this. :P

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Posted by Arif   @   27 December 2016 0 comments
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