Recently I experienced a problem with extremely dry eyes. It took day and night drops as well as using a heated eye mask twice a day before the problem improved. They have tended to be dry for a long time now, but I think the problem was exacerbated by increased screen use during the pandemic. As well as using a PC all day, I was also attending Zoom events and chatting to family and friends by video call.
Consequently, I have had to change the way I work in order to reduce screen time. I have also stopped the Zoom events and video calls apart from the odd exception.
Obviously, as an author who spends most of the day typing on the computer, this has presented some challenges so here is how I got round them.
- I basically type with my eyes shut. I’m a touch typist anyway, which is fortunate, but it still means I have to peek at the screen every now and again to make sure the text hasn’t misaligned.
- I no longer check my work as I go along. I used to recap each day by reading over the previous day’s work and editing it as I went along. As well as enabling me to correct my work, it also put me in the right frame of mind ready to write. Now, I just refresh my memory by having a quick scan over my sequence of events document where I list what has taken place in each scene.
- When I reach the end of the document, I review it by using the speech function on Word. This means I don’t have to look at the screen constantly. If I hear something that doesn’t sound quite right, I pause the speech and check the document, making any necessary changes. It still means I have to look at the screen but I’m not looking at it as often. It has its disadvantages because sometimes a word sounds in context even thought it might be spelt incorrectly, and the pronunciation on the speech function isn’t always spot on. However, I have the back-up of the spellchecker.
- With my latest novel I am putting it to one side for a few weeks, as I always do, ready to make a final check of it before sending it back to my publishers. Again, I won’t be reading it on screen. Instead, I will use Calibre software to transfer it to my Kindle and read it through while making notes with a pad and pen regarding any changes I want to make. My Kindle is one of the old types that doesn’t have a backlit screen and is therefore much kinder on the eyes.
I was hoping to take a two week break over the Christmas period to give my eyes a total rest but, alas, I have just received the proofread version of my forthcoming novel. I’ll therefore be thinking of ways to tackle it without wrecking my eyesight in the process.
Of all the screens I use, I have found my phone to be the worst of all, even though I have changed the settings. It has made me realise the damage that modern technology has on our eyes. I’m hoping that my experience acts as a warning to others. If you’re suffering from dry, sore or itchy eyes, cut down on your screen time before the problem gets worse.