How Technology is Killing our Eyes: Daniel Georgiev at TEDxVarna (Transcript)

Daniel Georgiev

Daniel Georgiev: Hello.

(Audience) Hello!

DG: My name is Daniel, and I’m the creator of a little software for eye protection called “Iris.” Has anybody in the audience heard about it? Wow, thank you. It has become pretty popular, I guess. My story starts two years ago, when a doctor told me that I need to wear glasses. This was a shock for me because my vision was perfect my entire life. Basically, I realized that maybe 16 hours per day in front of the computer isn’t so healthy.

After this point, fixing my eyes became an obsession for me. I spent the last two years researching the eyes and the monitors. I also created “Iris,” which implements some of the things I learned about eyes. So I’m here today to try to explain to you why we feel eye pain and to give you some tips on how to sit in front of the PC all day and be healthy. I want to start by saying we are made to look at distant objects.

Reading and using computers is not natural for us. This is one of the main reasons for the increasing eye problems in the world. It’s just unnatural. When you read something, you stop blinking because you need to focus on the letters. It’s a lot easier when you read on paper, but monitors flicker all the time.

I want to explain what I mean by flicker. Monitors are like a light bulb, but instead of one light bulb, you have millions of them, several inches in size. In order to not burn them, you need to turn them on and off all the time, hundreds of times per second. And this thing, this on and off thing, is called “flicker.” Our brain is so slow that we don’t perceive it.

But our eyes are fast. Our iris starts to open and close like this. I can actually make a demo of this. This is the reason why our eyes hurt when we sit in front of the computer. The lower the frequency of this flicker, the bigger our iris will contract, and the more we will feel eye pain.

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In order to feel the least amount of pain, this frequency should be high, really high; several thousand of flickers per second .But manufacturers get no benefit from this. It’s not energy efficient, it doesn’t increase the life of the monitor. And this is why manufacturers don’t want to increase this flicker rate. And this is not the biggest problem.

The biggest problem is that to control brightness, manufacturers change this flicker rate and make it lower. This thing is called pulse-width modulation, and is the cheapest way to control the brightness. I think this is the biggest problem of our generation. So, my tip for you now is to use your monitor at maximum brightness and use “Iris” or some other other program which can change the brightness without changing this flicker frequency. The flicker thing is killing our eyes, but I want to talk a little bit about our sleep because this is the second thing that our monitors kill.

Monitors are like the Sun. They display all the colors of the rainbow. And as you can guess, it’s not normal to look at the Sun at night because if we look at something like the Sun at night, we can’t sleep properly. And it turns out that we can fix this just by removing one light color at night. Thousands of years ago, we oriented if it’s day or night by the blue sky.

Looking at a blue light controls the secretion of our sleep hormone: melatonin. Just by removing this blue light at night our sleep problem can be fixed. So my second tip for you is to avoid blue light at night. You can again use “Iris” or a similar software which can remove the blue light from your screen at night, or you can just not use computers at night. Over the years, font rendering evolved to look better.

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Antialising and sub-pixel antialiasing were created. But better is not always healthy. In order to look good, fonts today are made blurry. And blurry letters are hard to focus on. I use crisp letters or simple font rendering because it makes it easy for my eyes to focus on the letters.

Finally, I want to give you some tips which depend on you not on some software. Place your PC so the window in the room is left or right to you. Behind you is bad because you will see a double image, and in front of you is bad because you’ll look directly at the Sun. Prefer mate over glossy screens. Mate screens have coatings for anti-reflection.

With a glossy screen, you will see a double image and reflections because the screen is like a mirror. Yawn more. At first, I thought I should blink more, but yawning is actually better and is contagious. My last tip for you is something like an exercise: from time to time, stand up from your PC and look at distant objects. Looking at distant objects will help your eyes to relax more, and you’ll feel way less eye strain.

Thank you.

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