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Monitors for People with Poor Eyesight? 258

Posted by michael
from the D-E-F-P-O-T-E-C dept.
tuxbeej writes "Just recently I've been told that I may be developing keratoconus, a non-inflammatory eye condition in which the normally round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins causing a cone-like bulge to develop (thanks, NKCF!). As a result, my eyesight will get worse and it's getting harder to see on a 15" monitor. Being 22 years old and studying MIS, I've been hoping to keep my eyesight for a long, long time. Anyway, I was in the market for a new monitor and I was curious to know if anyone has done shopping for a monitor intended for someone with bad eyesight? Are there any recommended sizes, features, brands? It seems like a generic question, but I'm curious to know if certain technologies have any advantages over another or if there is a site out there that handles info like this." We had an older article about CRT's vs. LCD's.
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Monitors for People with Poor Eyesight?

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  • by corebreech (469871) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:21PM (#3257623) Journal
    Yeah, it's 1024x768, but it covers the whole wall. Nice contrast, no flicker... hard to see how there'd be any eye strain with that if you have it set up right (proper distance from projector to wall, and between you and wall.)

    Of course, the things make a racket.
  • Monitor (Score:2, Informative)

    by malcolm2r (551437)
    A large LCD would probably be the easiest on the eyes, if not on the wallet. If you can afford a large lcd monitor, I would go for it. Otherwise a large CRT would have to do. That said, any flat screen large monitor is kewl.
  • by Latent IT (121513) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:22PM (#3257625)
    It's not just the monitor, but the environment the moniter is used in. I'm 23, and if it weren't for corrective lenses, I'd be legally blind. Now, what works best for me is a nice, flat, 21" monitor.

    The flatness of the monitor works very well, since it cuts down on glare. And the nice size of the monitor lets you put some distance between you and it. If you run that big bugger in 1280x1024, you'll be doing fine.

    Make sure you don't use the monitor in a darkened room often, that'll cause you problems, and if you wear glasses, it has a pretty good chance of giving you a headache. And if you sit near a window, you might want to get an anti-glare screen. Having bright spots, (either the monitor in a dark room, or glare on the screen) can cost you some vision, given enough time.
  • Sony FD Trinitron (Score:5, Informative)

    by PoiBoy (525770) <brian@poiholding[ ]om ['s.c' in gap]> on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:23PM (#3257630) Homepage
    I have always found monitors with FD Trinitron CRT's (with the flat surface) to be especially easy to look at for extended periods of time. I have had a 19" Dell P991 monitor for well over two years, and it still looks great.

    Do not be tempted to just run your video at low resolution. I would instead suggest running at a higher resolution, and use better fonts at a larger scale to read; this way they won't look so ragged. Also, anti-aliased fonts might be easier to look at as well.

  • Xmag (Score:2, Interesting)

    by beta21 (88000)
    I thought this was what Xmag and magnifier was for.
  • old adage... (Score:4, Informative)

    by tongue (30814) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:23PM (#3257639) Homepage
    Despite whatever nonsense the latest women's rag is spouting off...

    BIGGER IS BETTER.

    go for at least 19" and use 1280x1024 res... 21" would probably be better if you can afford it. I seem to be able to read better off my laptop if the text is antialiased properly (a big "if" on linux, unfortunately--the new kde is awesome for this), but i haven't had the chance to compare to a flat-panel monitor that was worth a shit. I think part of the laptop's appeal (aside from portability) is that the screen is much easier to tilt and has a wider range.
    • Re:old adage... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by thogard (43403) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @11:02PM (#3257799) Homepage
      Bigger is better to a point.
      I find that with a large color monitor (or LCD) and my glasses I get a very anoying spherical aberrations which cause the colors to appear as if they weren't converging on the edges of the screen. I used to deal with this problem with a very large Blit like terminal [bell-labs.com] (letter sized, black/green, high res, designed by Pike & crew). Now I have a 1024x768 15" LCD.

      I've found the best thing to keep my eyes sharp is long drives in the country where I can focus a long way away or flying around in small planes.
  • hmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by AnimeFreak (223792) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:24PM (#3257641) Homepage
    I beleive the ultimate solution is to talk to an optometrist about your situation.

    I was visiting one just a few months ago and I saw various information on computers and bad eyesight. They might be able to give you information of what you should look for and maybe they might have something that will help you use your computer.

    I wouldn't mind a monitor that would fix my slight colour-blindness. :)
  • another thought (Score:2, Informative)

    by cuyler (444961)
    I have definately noticed that an LCD screen is much easier on the eyes. Less strain - more relaxing. Not sure if that would have anything to do with bad eyesight but with an LCD screen you can sit closer to it more comfortably and look at it for longer periods of time.

    And bigger is always better...except for dot pitch...small is better there.

    On another note with respect to bad eyesight...does anyone really use the high-contrast theme that comes with windows (the white on balck theme)?
    • Oooh, oooh! I do!

      Actually, on one computer at work, I use the high contrast white scheme. Because the poor 2000 server happens to have a B&W monitor. ;p
    • High Contrast (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Firehawke (50498)
      I don't use the Windows version, but I have a custom one that's easier on my eyes. (for me, white flickers like crazy on monitors, even at good refresh rates.) I generally use white on black or grey on black, with darker blue for gui elements.

      It really has made using Windows a lot easier on my eyes over the past 6-7 years.
    • by Steev (5372)
      Better yet, does anyone use the old "Hot Dog Stand" color scheme that came with Windows 3.1? :)

      Man, that thing was ugly.
  • by MulluskO (305219) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:31PM (#3257674) Journal
    Don't think of it as bad vision, think of it as bio-hardware-accelerated antialiasing.

    So spend that money that you would have spent on a GeForce 4 and buy a large, flatscreen monitor.
  • by ksb (517539)
    Go for the special foriegn language monitor for english tourists... it will help buy just SHOUTING what you want SLOWLY and CAREFULLY in the hope you finally UNDERSTAND ;)
  • I have it too. (Score:5, Informative)

    by certsoft (442059) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:33PM (#3257686) Homepage
    I was diagnosed with keratoconus in my early 20's as well. I'm now 45 and still programming. I use 17 inch screens at 1024x768 and I normally do use a larger font to make it more readable.

    I first tried hard contacts (to try to flatten the cornea) but just couldn't handle them, so I've stuck to glasses. I'm going to get a new perscription after I move (next month), after 4 years I definately need them. In my case at least having a lot of light helps.

    • Re:I have it too. (Score:2, Informative)

      by schwatoo (521485)

      Me too... My specialist told me that the rigid contacts dont actually flatten the cornea as such (which is what I thought too) but rather combine with the cornea and the tear fluid inbetween to act as a sort of super-cornea

      Luckily I dont contact lenses at all yet (the cone caused by the KC is below the center of my cornea and so doesn't affect my vision yet).

    • Re:I have it too. (Score:5, Informative)

      by MsWillow (17812) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @11:54PM (#3257961) Homepage Journal
      Ditto. I was diagnosed about age 17, and I'm now 42. The hard contacts work for me - they slowed it waaaay down. I've had one cornea transplant, and that eye is now, with contacts, at 20:15. The other, with contacts, is about 20:100, and without, it's 20:400 - I can't really read the "E" on top of the chart.

      I use a Hitachi SuperScan Pro 15" monitor, at 1280x1024, large fonts, and do rather well with it. A bigger monitor would be nice, but not necessary.

      Hang in there. Keratoconus is not a death sentance. It's more an annoyance than anything else.
      • I'm very similar (possibly excluding the goddess bit :-) )

        Do persevere with gas permeable contacts. I went to a normal optician/optometrist from teens onwards, he spotted the keratonconus (both eyes) and gave me soft lenses. 13 years later thought I'd give GPs a try and the difference was amazing. Not only can I see the bottom line but they're more comfortable and easier to look after. In fact, I wonder if these soft ones, particularly the disposables, aren't something of a con...

        Anyway, back to computers... I use an ancient 21" Dell screen, and (thanks to the link you gave!) I realize why I don't like the brightness cranked up... I used a dual LCD monitor setup at work for a while but didn't notice any improvement.

        I sincerely hope that you don't have to struggle too much with reading aids - I was lucky in that I was sent to the best eye hospital around here (Moorfields in London) with a dedicated KC unit - and that once my hormones calmed down the condition didn't get any worse. Well, not so far (going on 39 now), fingers crossed eh?
  • by sunhou (238795) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:33PM (#3257689)
    I find that my eyes are less fatigued if I can be farther away from the monitor. That's hard to do in most office situations, and in my small apartment. Ideally I'd like to have a table behind my main desk, to hold the monitor, about 4 feet away from me (and just use a slightly bigger font so I can still read everything).

    One thing I did was to get a short-depth monitor. I have a Viewsonic PS790, it's a 19" monitor but the front-to-back size is about that of a 15" monitor, so I can push it farther back on the table. Unfortunately they're not making them any more. Anyone know of a similar monitor still being made? (Eventually I'll go with an LCD, which I'll be able to push way back.)
  • due to my foolishness, i'm in a simlar situation (but mine is man-made - i underwent a controversial eye surgery in the late 1980's and messed up my vision pretty bad)
    i have found the website http://www.surgicaleyes.org to be a good (although somewhat scary) source of info for all sorts of visually-impaired folks - ranging from surgically-induced blindness to keratoconus to corneal transplants.
    check out the site - and the bulletin board - and dig around for some links on keratoconus sites and PK (corneal transplant) information.
    there is a consensus that keratoconus can be put-off with a good pair of Rigid Gas-Permeable Contacts for quite some time.
    also keep in mind you will bump into information about up-and-coming treatments for keratoconus - things like Keraform (an enzyme being developed to re-shape the myopic cornea) and other strange stuff.
    anyhow, check it out (and dig around on their message board for strings like 'keratoconus' as well)
    good luck!
    (and by the way, i'm using RGP contacts to help read a 21" monitor set to about 1280x1024 - so don't rule out the well-fitted contact lens solution!)
  • increasing the font (Score:2, Interesting)

    by oliphaunt (124016)
    I use excel and word at work (don't come after me with the anti-m$ stick, i just downloaded OpenOffice and I'm switching over) and when I've been staring at the screen all day, I end up viewing documents at 150%, then 200% as my eyes get increasingly tired. Sure, it's kind of a pain to judge the format of a page when you can only see 1/8th of it at a time, but it's much easier on the eyes.

    This page [grc.com] provides a demo of a font designed to be easy to read on TFT screens. I haven't used it extensively, but the demo seems to be a pretty clear improvement over arial 12-point.
  • Kerataconus (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:36PM (#3257701)
    Six years ago I was diagnosed with Kerataconus, when I was 21. It degenerated rapidly in one eye and I was required to get a cornea transplant - the symptoms in the other eye seemed to slow their degradation.

    Anyway, since the transplant I have had to make adjustments to my computer using environment in order to keep my eyes sane - the single biggest improvement is using really, really big fonts that are anti-aliased. For some reason, I've also found that varying the hue of things (dark green text against beige backgrounds, etc) seems to make things easier to read. Also, though I'm sure this won't be an entirely popular suggestion, ever since I switched to Mac OSX from Linux, my eyes have improved dramatically. I have attributed it to the entirely antialiased environment, but it could easily be coincidence.

    Good luck.

    PS. The good news is that cornea transplants are among the most successful of transplant operations, with an average success rate of 92%. (should you need one).

    • I'll second this. My eyesight has never been really bad, but because I sit in front of a computer for 12 or so hours a day, I used to get up 2 or 3 times during the day simply because my eyes needed a rest. In the 6 months or so since I've used OS X as my primary OS, I notice I have to give my eyes a rest a lot less. Things are tons easier to read (most of the time), so I typically sit farther from the monitor. That, I imagine, is what is making it easier to sit in front of the monitor.
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:42PM (#3257727) Journal
    It's sort of a pet-peeve of mine, but it also relates to monitor clarity.

    I can't stand when people crank the brightness control up all the way on their monitors, thinking "brighter is better".

    To get the maximum clarity and contrast possible with a given monitor, I recommend turning up the contrast control to around 100%. (Some monitors will draw small fonts a bit too thick or blocky like this. If so, back it off to 95% or even 90%, but probably not any lower than that.)

    Then, when you have an image on your screen, you want to turn down the brightness control just far enough so the border around the image appears to be black/not lit up at all.

    This combination should be much easier on the eyes. (Especially important when you're at the command line on a full screen text mode, where there's lots of black background.)

    • Odd...personally, I find that the brighter the monitor is, the easier it is to read the text. Obviously, too much brightness is bad (when blacks look washed out, that ain't good... ;) ), but on most monitors I've used, I have to turn up the brightness most or all of the way to get a decent image that I can see well, and even then I occasionally wish it was better. Maybe that's just cause I spend too much time on old/crappy monitors... ;)

      To the original poster: As for advice on monitors...well, first I'd suggest checking with your optomitrist, as several others have said. They're best equipped to tell you at least how to avoid things that could strain or damage your eyes more than neccesary. Beyond that, I'm not sure how much advice I can give you, since I don't suffer from your particular condition.

      Personally, I suffer from pretty serious nearsightedness. I'm not legally blind, but my vision is pretty bad without glasses. Anything up to a foot away is fine, after that, it degrades pretty quickly. I can read my jumbo alarm clock from across the room if I squint right. At work, I wear glasses when on the computer, but at home, I usually do without and just sit closer to the screen. Eyestrain has never been a problem for me...dunno why, though.

      I have a 17" monitor (TTX 1787 for those who care ;) ), and I run at 800x600 at 100Hz. I can't use any higher resolution on a 17" screen (even with my glasses; they make everything about 25-30% smaller than it really is, which makes high res even worse ;) ), and my monitor doesn't support 100Hz refresh rates on higher resolutions anyway. (I happen to be one of those who are very sensitive to refresh rates; any static images below 85Hz will give me a headache after a few hours, and below 75Hz is intolerable for even a short time. Even at 100Hz I can still see the flicker sometimes...)

      Another oddity I've noticed is that I cannot stand dark screens. Most people I know like darker screens and say that brighter monitors make their eyes hurt. I've always been the opposite way; dim monitors give me a headache, but bright ones are just fine. Go figure... ;) The other things I can't stand are antialiased fonts. They look awful, and make my eyes hurt trying to read them. To me, they don't look sharp and crisp, but blurry and out of focus. Maybe it's just my eyes or something, but I've always preferred well-defined fonts with a few jaggies to smooth but blurry antialiased fonts.

      DennyK
    • On that note, the Hewlett Packard Pavillion mx70(and probably the other mx monitors) have two preset Brightness/contrast modes, one for text, one for video. It helps alot, without the trouble of fiddling around to find your ideal setting. Of course, manual setting will have better results, but the auto settings do help.

      I don't know if these monitors are available seperately from the HP Pavillion PCs though.
  • I'm not sure what visual defects are associated with keratoconus, but if you need magnification, look into hardware devices that do this.

    Back in 1990-91, I had a co-worker who had no central vision whatsoever. He had a special setup: a special card that magnified the image on his monitor. The output of a CGA card (remember this is 1990) went into the magnifier card, and the output of the magnifier card went to the monitor. The system included a document camera, which could display a magnified image of whatever document was placed under it, on the monitor.

    He used two mice on the computer - one for the normal use of a mouse, and another mouse to control the magnification and panning of the hardware card. (Configuring the IRQs for the two mice, serial port, parallel printer, and two video cards was a bitch. Even more so to get Windows 3.0 to run in CGA!)

    Today, of course, this system would need to be modernized - a minimum of 1024x768 is required for business, and any magnifier card would need to cope with the increased video bandwidth.

    I can't remember what the system was called. Being over 10 years old, it's likely no longer in production in a usable form anyway. However, similar systems may exist. I would do a web search for speciality computer equipment for the visually impaired.

    • Heh, instead of getting a hardware thingy to do this, you could just run XFree with a virtual display size larger than your resolution, and use big fonts. When your mouse reaches the edge of the real screen, XFree will scroll the virtual screen for you (really fast!). You can see this behavior if you start XFree with a high resolution and then use the Ctrl-Alt-+ or Ctrl-Alt-- key combos to switch to a lower resolution. The only difference with the hardware solution you describe is that there's only one mouse, but I don't think this is a big disadvantage. You can set the virtual screen size in the XF86Config-4 file.
  • by sunhou (238795) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:44PM (#3257736)
    I started becoming nearsighted about 11 years ago when I started working at a computer company. It was worse after spending a lot of time in front of the computer. I was going to get glasses to correct it, but someone suggested I see a particular doctor, I think he called her a "behavioral optometrist".

    Often when you get corrective lenses, they compensate for the near-sightedness (or whatever problem you are having) by making things appear closer. But that usually makes the problem worse. Most people I know with glasses say they got more and more nearsighted over time.

    Anyway, the doc I saw gave me the opposite prescription -- lenses that made everything appear farther away (basically, reading glasses). I only wore them while reading or using a computer, or looking at stuff up close, but not at other times. My nearsightedness gradually got better, and eventually cleared up. My next eye test came up 20/20. Now, all these years later, my vision is still perfect. But if I ever forget to wear my reading glasses and use a computer or read a book for a couple of hours, my eyes get fatigued and I become nearsighted for a few hours or so. (And as I mentioned in my other reply, keeping the computer monitor farther away from my eyes also helps).

    So a therapeutic approach may be better than a corrective approach, at least in some situations. (Probably not with the condition the submitter has, although I know nothing about that particular condition.)
    • Oh yeah, I forgot the ironic punchline of my little story -- I wear glasses so that I won't have to wear glasses.
    • aha I always suspected that my lenses where actually making things worst. And now you come and confirm my suspicions. Darn optometrists, anything for a buck.
    • I've got the same condition the article submitter has. With KC the treatments are either rigid contact lenses or cornea replacement surgery. Obviously the former is preferable to the later. (I actually got lucky and dont need any treatment yet). Glasses wont do a thing and you'll end up changing your prescription every other month.

      Lots of good information (including a great forum) at www.kcenter.org [kcenter.org] but of course take everything you read online with a pinch of salt

    • by sudog (101964) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @11:40PM (#3257928) Homepage
      what the heck are you talking about? You have a cure for nearsightedness? That's odd. Why doesn't the rest of the world know about it?

      Look, whoever asked this question--Slashdot is the LAST place where you should be getting medical advice, especially about something as critical as your eyesight. There is no fact here, no medical truths--a high moderation does NOT mean that that advice is better than any of the other crap on here.

      Here's some advice you can really use: Get a second opinion and see as many eye specialists as you can. They're the bloody experts--not Slashdot's armchair doctor population who have little to no medical training and pure anecdotal "evidence" to prove that their methods work!

      Run, don't walk, away from these comments if you value your eyesight at *all* and are having problems.

      Shame, Slashdot--suggestions in here may do damage to your weaker-minded readership. Please don't run stories like this.


      • "Shame, Slashdot--suggestions in here may do damage to your weaker-minded readership. Please don't run stories like this."

        Ummm... that would be *the reader's* problem, not the editors'. I think you forgot to note the simple fact that the story was posted by the the editors, but "comments are owned by the poster."

        This is a forum designed to allow people to swap experiences in all arenas related to technology, science, etc. This is not a censorship-prone environment, and people generally understand it's okay to speak your mind (at the risk of moderation, of course). Anyone who would take comments in this story as actual medical advice are about as idiotic as those who interpret a discussion regarding law here as "legal advice." In other words, if you're dumb enough to do that, you deserve what you get.

        If society filtered all our information for us, and delivered it in neat little pre-digested packages for our consumption (oh, wait, AOL...), we'd be much worse off as a whole. Instead, we strive to break down communications barriers, allowing each person to decide for him/herself what's right and reasonable. Please keep this in mind before encouraging censhorship in the name of "protecting people from themselves."

      • by TuxBeej (75679) on Sunday March 31, 2002 @12:22AM (#3258088)
        I've already seen several optometrists and opthamologists about my condition, including an optician in Edmonton who is well-known in the community for handling people with keretoconus. With over 30 years of experience, I trust him for helping me make good decisions about my eyesight. Unfortunately, he had no suggestions about display technologies that are easier on the eyes.

        My interest here is *not* in asking people for medical advice - that's why we have doctors. I wanted to find out if anyone had seen studies or had suggestions for display technologies that would be easier on my eyes. Since I had not found anything on my own, I posted the question here, since I believed there's probably a lot of people in the tech community who are young, have bad eyesight, and are seeking the same kind of solutions I am.

        You're aboslutely right, though - don't take any medical advice from a forum. Always take that advice to your doctor and get their opinion. Then get *another* opinion. Especially when it comes to your eyes. We only get two, and we don't get any more.
      • You know, he isn't asking for medical advice, he's asking for advice on what kind of monitor would be better for him. Obviously, he wouldn'y ask us for a prescription for new eyeglasses, he'd leave that to his doctor, but can he trust his doctor to know anything about computer monitors? No, he can't. So, logically, he gets his doctor to help him with whatever falls under the doctor's personal expertise, and comes to the Slashdot readership for questions relating to technology.

        By the way, I use a Compaq V720 17" monitor, and it works pretty well. Nice flat screen, good performance.
      • I wouldn't go that far... Hearing what has worked for people in the real world, in addition to professional medical advice, is valuable. It will give a little more meaning to the doctors medical jargon. Of course, he shouldn't select a treatment option based solely on slashdot comments, but he could say

        "Doctor, I heard about treatment X, what do you think of that?"

        Doctor says: " Hmmm... that might work for you, lets run some tests"

        After tests doctor says: "That will work best... lets set the date"

        Granted, it may not trun out like that, but it cannot hurt for the patient to take even some unofficial knowledge, so long as he understands that only a doctor can determine if that information is applicable to his specific case.
      • He has mild myopia. There are two valid and opposite ways to treat the condition.
        One way is to use glasses to correct the myopia. Using these glasses while reading will increase the condition.
        The other way is to use glasses to increase the myopia. Using these glasses while reading will decrease the condition.
        Which one is right? Well .... they both are.
    • I do have the same condition. I was diagnosed when I was thirteen. I wore glasses for about two years, then moved to soft contacts for a few years. Originally it only showed in one eye, but then both lenses became noticably affected. So i was switched to a combo soft contact with a rigid center type of lens. I was still assured that I would eventually need a transplant or accept being blind.

      When I got to college I was lucky that the university optometry program had specialists studying this disorder. They wanted to switch me to just a regular gas permeable lens. My God, what a difference! Without the contact lenses I have to hold a newspaper centimeters from my nose to read it, but wearing contact lenses I have almost perfect vision. And as an astronomer I'm damn careful with my eyesight. It's not exactly 20/20, but it's better than most people who only need reading specs.

      In short my advice is to talk with your optometrist and strongly consider getting regular, run-of-the-mill hard contact lenses and spring maybe $100-$200 before you invest in specialized technology for people with less easily corrected conditions

    • that's silly (Score:3, Informative)

      by mmusn (567069)
      Training nearsightedness away is right up there with various devices to increase the size of certain private body parts, or spot exercise to remove fat deposits. It may make sense to you, but it doesn't work. At best, someone can perhaps learn to get by a little better with the fuzzy image they are seeing. If someone who needs glasses doesn't get them, he'll just miss out on a lot of things.

      And by the time you reach your 40s, you'll invariably need reading glasses anyway; there is no escaping it. Sorry, eyes just aren't built to last.

      • No, I don't think it's the same as increasing penis size, etc. It's more like exercising an actual muscle to make it bigger (or maybe helping a muscle to relax so that it doesn't tense up).

        In my case, the doc said that doing up-close reading was fatiguing the muscles in my eyes that allow me to focus at various depths, or something along those lines (it's been a long time, I forget the details). She said she'd seen many people with a very similar problem. At the time, she said at least hopefully it would slow down the progression of nearsightedness, but she tried not to get me too hopeful. It worked really well for me. I'm sure many peoples' nearsightedness may have other causes.

        Haven't you ever stared at something up close (a few inches from your face) for a bit, then noticed that when you look away, your eyes take a while before they will focus at a farther distance again? Why is it hard to believe that muscles around the eyes can get tired?
        • People are nearsighted because their eyeball has grown too long for their cornea. You can't reverse that through exercise (conceivably, you might be able to prevent it in children somehow). There is no muscle involved. And the muscle that you use for focussing needs to relax in order to focus at a distance, so "strengthening" that wouldn't help you with nearsightedness.
    • This is only true for some cases of near-sitedness. Most are caused by the eye ball not being round like it should. The submitter's is much much worse in the fact that his lens is not good :) No ammount of compensation by muscles can cure either of those cases. Some people are now developing nearsitedness from reading and computing. These are caused by strain, and may be repairable by those means. I read somewhere once that they have a method of surgery using lasers(it was the discovery channel, all about lasers!) to replace the lens of a human eye with that of a fish. The best advice has already been given though. See lots of qualified people. /.ers are techies. They may help find a way to replace your eye with a camera, but they aren't going to give you any good advice except to see many experts :) Not one, not even two, not even three in your hometown, but many. I would try to go to at least one new place, because they are probably more up to date on eyecare. Most old optomitrists seem to be unaware of alternatives much past glasses or contacts. They've been doing their thing for 30 years, and why fix something that isn't broke? (hehe crazy old people... some day I'll have a garage of then, antiquated computers and say "If Nasa can go to the moon with 32K, then why do you have a problem going there with just 256M." But they'll just stare at me and ask, "What's a kilobyte? Is it bigger than a exobyte?")
  • I don't have a monitor recommendation for you, but I do have a browser one.

    In Opera, all versions I have used, you can just hit + or - to make the whole web page larger or smaller. As soon as I load pricewatch I always hit plus three times, to bump it up to 130%. Where do they get off using tiny fonts anyway?

    This works on all web pages, it's insanely great. It will even enlarge flash animations, images, everything. Well, almost everything, scroll bars stay the same size, but buttons, checkboxes, and radio buttons all get bigger. It doesn't mess up the presentation most of the time. Text just flows to fit the screen correctly, so no sidescrolling necessary (except on text/plain pages)
  • I would find the biggest flattest screen CRT display you can get from Sony (or whoever) and run it at around 1024X768 or so. This will give you a much better image than going with a big LCD that will have a native resolution much higher. The problem with the CRT of course is flicker etc..., but running it at the lower resolution should help. Also, make sure that you design the desktop for minimal eye strain with large icons and text. As far as which OS to use, OSX is the nicest desktop on the eyes I have seen with beautiful anti-aliasing for the text and adjustable icon sizes etc..., so you might want to look at it. My experience with desktop themes for Linux has not been good as far as recommending them to our patients who are loosing their sight, but Windows does have some accessibility features that might ease the squinting some. The Windows solutions are a bit clunky, but if you use Windows, make sure you take full advantage of the ones provided early in the corneal thinning. More profound progression might neccesitate the use of specialized software.

    Also, as everyone should do, pay very close attention to your work environment and ergonomic setup.

    • >This will give you a much better image than
      >going with a big LCD that will have a native
      >resolution much higher.

      So what?

      Run at the higher resolution. Most GUIs have a way to control the size of things.

      Yes, it IS possible to run your screen at 1280x1024 and still have icons and text that are as big as an 800x600 screen. The difference is that your text will be MUCH sharper, especially with antialiasing.

      I demonstrated this on my dad's system - he was running at 800x600 despite having a very nice 19" monitor and 32 meg video card (his eyes aren't what they used to be). I kicked the resolution up to 1280x1024 and bumped the sizes all of his objects and desktop text items up a few notches.

      End result: Same usability as far as spotting the icon he wants and reading the text on things, but it's a much sharper screen now. The only time he needs to kick the resolution back down is sometimes looking at web pages with small images. In this particular case I set up a theme that he can switch to - goes back to 800x600 and the sizes go back to default. Everything looks the right size, the pictures are "bigger", but the text is a little blockier.

      -l
      • The only time he needs to kick the resolution back down is sometimes looking at web pages with small images

        I am not sure I understand why you are making this argument when one has to be switching resolutions back and forth, especially in Linux distros and Windows that tend to loose track of where you place your icons after switching your resolution. The reason I reccomend to our patients that have varying degrees of vision loss to go with a larger CRT monitor and a lower fixed resolution is so they don't have to switch resolutions back and forth. It's easier on them. However, that said, there are some great new LCD's out with very bright screens and contrast ratios never before available in reasonably priced solutions that may work at higher resolutions for may folks with vision loss. The problem here is that they are still rather expensive to get the highest quality ones.

  • My grandmother (who has Cataracts amongst other eye problems) is able to view things on her 21" monitor just fine.

    So go for a 21 incher, pretty much any one will do as long as it has a good .pitch and the focus is good. Go Trinitron for that matter.

    Baring that, I am sure that these [plasmapeople.com] people may be able to help you. :)

    A good on screen text dictator is a plus, I have known of people who were almost compleatly blind and managed to use a computer just fine with a good text dictator. I find the damn things highly annoying myself (being a speed reader I would keel over if I lost my ability to read efficently. :( :( :( ) but many people swear by them.

    *COUGH* *COUGH* Windows (any version) tends to have excellent text dictation support, as it does other features for the visualy impaired. (built in magnifing utility and such).

    Also, learn how to type with your eyes clsoed, it can save a lot of wear and tear on them. :) (useful advice in general. :) )

    Use a good video card, I recommend a Matrrox [matrox.com] card of any sort. They Rock. Period. :)
  • I've used different monitors since I was like 7 on computers (am now 19). My eyesight is still pretty good, I'd say its still 20/20 (haven't had it checked in a few months). Last time I got it checked, they said I was like 8/20 or something, but that was after heavy computer use (a few hours MUDding). However, the next day I had it tested again at the same place, and they said it was 20/20 now. The only eye problems I really have is a lazy eye (left) after reading a lot and being tired, and my eyes burn if its early in the morning and people are smoking heavily.
  • I have KC too (Score:2, Informative)

    I'm using a ViewSonic flat screen,17" viewable and I'm able to see okay to do work. Of course for details in graphics, I occasionally have to get REAL close to the screen, but it seems to be working for me so far. My vision is 20/400 uncorrected in the eye that is affected. I do take A LOT of breaks, as teh brightness gets to me after a while. Opera's magnification features are a godsend. Other apps, I have set to use larger fonts, and the fairly generous screen realestate is helpful..I'll probalby shop for a larger monitor in the not too distant future...but the 17" viewable is doing me good for now.

  • The LG Electronics Flatron 915ft (plus) is a the monitor I've recently chosen to purchase. For around $315 after shipping, it allows 1600x1200@85hz (my major consideration), it's truly flat, compares well against the other top-rated 19" monitors in terms of color, and those that have had problems with the monitor, it has had the best record in terms of returns.

    A set of Epinions reviews. [epinions.com]

    It uses a different mask type than any other monitors, from what I've heard, called a "slit mask" - and it does look good. The only real notable feature other than looking good and being really flat is that it avoids the "2 horizontal wires" of the trinitron type monitors.

    One final note about the warranty - it's a three year warranty - however, not all the years of it's terms are equal. The two months, you get the traditional swap&replace returns for a new monitor. For the rest of the first year, you get a refurbished monitor back. For the two years after that, you have to mail the monitor to the service company, then wait for the repaired monitor. After that, you've pretty much got to get a new monitor. So, although they have had a good reputation as far as customer service goes so far, know what to expect.

    I like it so far, and find it a very good replacement for my last 19" monitor, and worth the extra cash over a 17" or a lower quality 19".

    :^)

    Ryan Fenton
  • by kikta (200092) <jason@kikt[ ]et ['a.n' in gap]> on Saturday March 30, 2002 @10:54PM (#3257767)
    I'm only 24, but looking at a monitor for too long makes my eyes burn. It's gotten worse and worse in the last few years. Finally, I traded in my 17" Sony Trintron 17sfII for a 19" ViewSonic ViewPanel VG191. It's is so much better. The strain on my eyes is considerably less. Whether it's daylight or under the crappy flouresent lights in my dorm room, I can see it better. I don't know if it the fact it's an LCD or what but I can work for a lot longer and my eyes no longer ache afterwards, even running at 1280x1024, which hasn't made things any larger. The problem is that it costs about $1000, but I must say - it was worth every penny.

    P.S. I also upgraded my video card to a GeForce3 Ti 500 with a digital output. The picture isn't drastically different, but I can honestly say it is easier on the eyes than analog (I think it has to do with the way the colors are presented).
    • I have a ViewSonic VG191 19" LCD and a Sony G500 21" FD Trinitron hooked up to my ATI Radeon 8500 dualhead card at home, and a Sony M81 18" LCD at work. The VG191 has *almost* as much viewable area as the G500 (remember, a 21" tube has slightly less than 20" of usable screen), and hooked up to the DVI port it's razor sharp and very easy to read at its native 1280x1024 res. The VG191 is noticibly larger than the Sony 18". Alas, ViewSonic hiked the price by $300 a few weeks ago (a few days after I bought mine, when's the last time that happened?), so you'll spend at least $1200 to get one. It comes with DVI and analog cables though, the Sony M81 only comes with an analog cable(dumb!). One irritation with the ViewSonic: text mode (BIOS startup, etc) chops off the lower right section of the screen when using the DVI port (everything's fine via analog). The KDE desktop displayed on the VG191 via DVI is unbelievably cool.

      Sony's entry level 21" FD Trinitron is ~$500 (the better G520P is ~$750), so if funds are tight, hey, you won't suffer too much. I use my G500 for HDTV video [accessdtv.com] more than anything else these days, which no affordable LCD can do (Apple's HD Cinema display will, but it's $3500). But given a choice, LCD via DVI is the way to go.
      • One irritation with the ViewSonic: text mode (BIOS startup, etc) chops off the lower right section of the screen when using the DVI port (everything's fine via analog).

        Hook them both up at the same time - that's what I do & everything's fine. If you're already configured that way, maybe the monitor (or the video card) doesn't like your BIOS.
        • I did that, but it's annoying. My home machine (Epox 8KHA+ KT266A chipset) with Radeon 8500 and my work machine (Epox 8KHA KT266 chipset, about to be replaced by an ASUS A7V333-R) with a Radeon VE (aka Radeon 7000 with dualhead) both lop off the lower right section of the screen on the VG191 DVI. The Sony M81 via DVI doesn't have this problem. The Sony is more polished than the VG191, but I sure do like the extra real estate of the ViewSonic.
  • by Diamon (13013) on Saturday March 30, 2002 @11:00PM (#3257787)
    Contact your local Lions Club [lionsclubs.org] odds are you'll find people there who have went through what you are going through and know what worked for them. Also their experiences may be of use in other non-technical topics also (such as optometists, business opportunities you might qualify for as visually impaired, etc)

    You probably much better off asking there than on /. Different vision problems need different solutions, size isn't everything sometimes contrast means more.
  • I'm legally blind without thick glasses. I may be legally blind *with* glasses. I'll never drive, because I'll fail the eye test. So, I kinda know where you're now coming from:)

    Large monitors are good. I find that magnifiers don't feel 'natural' to look through, and software magnification that makes you scroll the screen around your work area is an added headache you don't need. Size, size, size.

    I currently have a 20" (18" viewable) ViewSonic from about 9 years ago, and I'm getting an 18" (17" viewable) ViewSonic LCD this coming week. Flicker and too much brightness can do a real job on your eyes; blurriness will increase, your head will ache somewhat, the usual you can expect from overtaxing your eyes.

    Crank the font size in your web browser, and get used to the overall look and placement of icons and menu items. You don't have to see everything perfectly if you know where things should be placed in relation to others.

    Even with all the tricks, you'll never be completely comfortable with your monitor and desktop setup. Get used to looking closer a lot at times, and be sure to take breaks when you need it. Shut your eyes for a while.

    This is all general stuff, but I hope it helps.
  • Some experience (Score:2, Insightful)

    Having worked with various people over the years with different degrees of eyesight impairments, I have seen these trends in monitors:

    1. For CRT displays, bigger is better. If something is bigger, it is easier to see. There are many packages out there that allow you to enlarge a portion of the screen (and some of this basic functionality is built into windows,) but in general, bigger is always better.

    2. When it comes to software aides that 'enhance' the screen image or read things out through speech synthesizer, there is a lot of software available for windows, but I don't know if there is as much for Linux (because I have never before needed to check.)

    3. For some people who have problems with reflections 'within' the eye (i.e. something in your peripheral vision appears to be in front of you) laptop TFT displays tend to be easier to see than CRT displays. I do not know why this is true, but it is true in my experience.

  • Wife and brother-in-law have RP [demon.co.uk]. To echo another poster, bigger is better. She has a 17" monitor, and runs in DOS or Linux bash-prompt as much as possible. BIL has a 19" monitor.

    If you can get the taxpayers to pay for it, get one of those ginormous LCD screens. Make sure it goes bright enough.

    Really, owing to the individualized nature of many disabilities, your best bet is to be prepared to do lots of shopping. And if the condition is dynamic, be prepared to replace parts frequently as conditions change.

    Also, I'd look into emacspeak [sourceforge.net]. I would have done this for my wife, but her hearing is bad also. (BTW, that isn't the easiest page to read. Default font size too small:)

  • Consider yourself blessed, you can now just sue companies that dont hire you and blame them for discriminating against you for having bad eyesight, then get a 5 million dollar settlement check from microsoft. Crazier things have happened in matters like that. Everyone is a victim nowadays, evidently.
  • For one thing, try and buy your monitor locally, so you can easily examine the merchandise for yourself.

    I find a 19" is good at 1152x768. 1280x1024 is generally too much for me at that screen size.

    A CRT will generally give you the biggest screen size for the price. But a nice LCD will be very crisp, and the crispness won't deteriorate over time. If you get an LCD, shoot for a monitor and video card combiniation that will will allow you to use a digital connection.

    If you go for a CRT get one that will support high refresh-rates. Some cards are sharper than others too, as I recall, this is a ZDnet review criteria.

    Lighting, of course, is important. Arrange things to avoid catching glare of the monitor.

    Finally, get a monitor with workable controls. It doesn't matter how many settings the damn thing has if you can't configure it to get a good picture. And look for uniform picture quality across the display.
  • Things to try (Score:2, Informative)

    by hickmott (122356)
    There are three basic things to try:

    Figure out just how far you sit from the monitor. Ask your ophthamologist to write you a prescription for glasses optimized for that distance. Explain exactly what you're using them for; he may have a better idea of what to use.

    If you're having problems with chromatic aberation, which shows up as red, green, and blue colored bands around letters, get a monochrome monitor. It isn't enough to set your software to display in black and white; this has to be done in hardware.

    Get a big monitor. You may want to run it at a lower resolution than it's rated for. This is especially true if you have a hard time seeing thin lines. Many programs will insist on using one-pixel thick lines; it helps if the pixels themselves are larger.

    Good luck!

    --Andy Hickmott
  • Why not just get a video card with a TV out and use a large TV? At my college we had a special setup with like a 30" TV at 640x480 that was freaking huge for people with bad eyesight. I don't see why you couldn't do this at home except maybe with a smaller TV like 19-25" or so. After all, it's usually easier and cheaper to get TVs at larger sizes than computer monitors. There are obvious desk space considerations to take into account, but I think this could be a good option to mention.
  • and after the surgery replaced my lenses with implants I found that seeing small fonts on the monitor got more difficult. I had a 17" Viewsonic which I traded for a 15" LCD panel and the difference was amazing right off the bat. I would never recommend anyone with any vision problem buy anything but an LCD screen and preferably one with the best contrast ration you can find. In my opinion a 15" LCD is better than a 17" CRT.
  • I have found that the important thing is not so much the monitor, as how your vision is corrected.

    Using a good flat screen 17" CRT monitor is probably a good idea. Make sure you have good lighting in the room you are looking at the computer screen.

    My keratoconus is bad enough that glasses can't fully correct my vision without giving me double vision. The general glasses I use around the house work to about 20 feet and give me a headache if I wear them for more than a coupl eof hours.

    I wear Softperm (sorry I couldn't find any good links) contact lenses. They are hard lenses in the center and soft on the outside. Much easier to wear than straight hard lenses, but you get excellent vision from the the rigid center.

    With my lenses on, I get 20/20 to 20/30 vision, depending on how tired my eyes are that day. IMHO, the standard toric & other soft lenses are all shit compared to these Softperms.

    The main advice I would give to you is to take breaks from the computer. Ever hour or so, get up and wander around. I find it makes a big difference to take time away from the screen.
  • I'm responsible for buying all the hardware for my company, and I won't pick up anything smaller then 17"

    At one point, my boss asked me why I was always going for the larger monitors. My response: "Because 15" (or 14", which we had at the time) was just too small. In a few years people with bad eyesite are going to blame it on their monitors if they are too small"

    This will happen. The question is'nt if somebody will sue because their company gave them a small CRT (or LCD), but when. I sure as heck don't want to be there.
    • It's a good scam to convince your boss to buy larger monitors, but it isn't true.

      The story that squinting at small text or monitors, sitting too close to the tv, etc. can cause poor vision is an old wives' tale. There is no convincing medical evidence that any of these activities decrease vision in anything but the very short-term (hours). They do not cause near-sightedness, blindness, far-sightedness, or color blindness. At worst they will cause some fatiguing of the muscles in the eye making it difficult and irritating until those muscles are rested.

      I realize people can sue for anything, but the moment they try to hire an ophthalmologist as an expert witness, they'll get nothing but laughter in their faces.

  • Your condition is a problem in that the image presented to your retnia will be distored, but your lens muscles can adapt quite a ways from the norms.

    I had some vision problems a while back. Was developing astigmatism. Went for glasses, and the doctor basically told me that if I used the glasses, I would quickly become dependant on them.

    His solution was simple once he learned what I was doing most of the time. Subject my eyes to a variety of visual problems each day. Focusing near medium and far often during the day. This has worked well for me in that after a few months, the problems went away.

    So it can't hurt in your case, and might help you retain lens flexibility and muscle development that will enable you to see well as your condition develops.

  • I don't know any details about the posters condition, so this may not be relevent.

    Over the past few years my eyesight has started to get worse. I can have a slightly weak right eye, which has been getting progressivly worse with time. about a year ago, after hiting an insane deadline for a project, my boss got me what was at the time the top of the line Dell laptop (C800). The machine has a 15" LCD which I use at 1600x1200, which makes everything very small, but razor sharp. Not only is it razor sharp, but there is no refresh rate, which is something that gives me problems.

    Anyway, since getting the LCD, my right eye has bothered me less and less. I almost never even notice the problem now. Everyone that looks at my screen tells me I am going to go blind, and I just have to kind of chuckle, and tell them my vision has improved.

    Now when I use a CRT for any length of time, I can actually feel my right eye starting to get stressed again. My experience may not be true for everyone, especially if you have a real vision problem, other than the standard bad vision, like I believe the poster does.

    I highly suggest getting a high resolution LCD if you are just starting to get vision problems from using an CRT all day long. For me, using a CRT is a killer, even at 85htz refresh. I have a 21" Sony Trintron at home, and that gives me problems as well, although other people swear by them.

    Try things out and see what works best for you.

    -Pete
  • You'll probably need bigger fonts, but whether you go with a bigger or smaller monitor is your preference. Some great work has been done on 80x24 CRTs.

    The only thing that probably makes a difference as far as buying a monitor is concerned is to get a monitor that's bright. A bright monitor will make it more likely that your pupils are small, and that makes the images you are getting sharper. I think bright, sharp, and big are more difficult to get in the same monitor, so perhaps a smaller, lower resolution, but brighter monitor is a better choice overall. Paying attention to office lighting probably also helps a lot.

    My personal impression is that light-text-on-dark-background also improves readability, but that's something you can experiment with afterwards.

    Also, think about the software you will be using. Interfaces will lots of buttons and tiny, fixed-size dialog boxes will not be your friend, while a command line at which you type succinct commands works no matter how poor your vision gets. While Windows has some low-vision hooks, aiming for working on a command line system may be a better career move.

  • Meditation as a lifestyle has as a major side benefit; the 'grounding' of the organism that one inhabits. It (our Meat representation to the world) then calms down, and functions with optimal performance.
    I've also had vision difficulties recently that can totally be traced to stress.
    Stress can boost one's intraocular pressure (aggravating our friend's problem) as well as confusing the image processing areas of the brain.
    Try being Here and Now and see if that helps.
    (Zen skill acquisition is left as an exercise for the reader)
    I'm betting that it will. Worked for me!
  • by jpsc (107113)
    Hi tuxbeej,

    Fundamentally you should probably be looking into Assistive Technology (AT) -- a screen magnifier or a large font theme or a high-contrast theme, just to name a few possible solutions. A larger monitor might be used in conjunction with a screen magnifier or a theme. Just buying a different or larger monitor and getting "one of the big LCD projector dealies?" may not be an option at your work or home, is certainly not portable, and may actually not help that much or at all.

    Do you use Linux or Windows or Mac OS?
    If you use Linux, you should check out the Linux Accessibility Resource Site (LARS) at http://trace.wisc.edu/linux/ If you use Windows you might want to search google for the terms ZoomText, JAWS, or just Windows Accessibility. I'm sure you'll find something useful. If you use Mac OS X, try searching for OS X Accessibility, there's a web page at apple.com about what it can do; more accessibility solutions also exist for OS 9. Please e-mail me (jpsc@users.sourceforge.net) if you have further questions and I'd love to talk to you more about solutions that exist for your particular platform.

    I feel I have to comment on the way in which Slashdot continues to cover the topic of accessibility. I mean no disrespect to your question, it is indeed a very good one. The way in which the question was framed, however demonstrates a general lack of familiarity with accessibility on the part of Slashdot editors. The editors continuously reject stories (I and I'm sure other of my colleagues have submitted) about substantive accessibility news and assistive technology software for Linux, Unix, and OS X and instead pick stories that turn the complex issues of accessibility, disabled computer users, low-vision access, etc. into an invitation reccomend monitors.

    This is really missing the point about what Assistive Technology is and can do. I would LOVE to talk to the Slashdot editors (or anyone else) about these issues and be thrilled to see an "Accessibility" topic added to Slashdot.

    Editors, if you're reading, e-mail me, I'll be glad to call you or correspond on IRC or e-mail. This is a very important issue that deserves to be framed the right way. Among other things, under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, software used in the US federal government, INCLUDING Linux, must be accessible (see http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/508standards.ht m for more information). Making GNOME, KDE, X, and Linux accessible is a HUGE effort that involves dozens of full-time engineers at Sun, in Germany, China, and Ireland, yet Slashdot has never done justice to the topic.

    Again, Slashdot editors PLEASE contact me. Tuxbeej, feel free to do the same.

    Best,

    --JP Schnapper-Casteras

    Organizer of the 1st and 2nd Linux Accessibility Conferences

    Creator of the Linux Accessibility Resource Site
    Founder of the KDE Accessibility Project
    Maintainer of the Free Desktop Accessibility Working Group
    Founder and co-admin of Project Ocularis

    http://trace.wisc.edu/linux/
    http://ocularis.sf .net
    http://accessibility.kde.org
    http://www.spe echinfo.org/fddawg
  • If you can afford it, definitely an LCD display would be best. Their speed, brightness, resolution, and color accuracy can't be beat.

    If an LCD is out of your budget, then when looking for a CRT, make sure it's got a low dot pitch. The smaller the dot pitch, the sharper the image and therefore less strain on the eyes.

    Also, make sure the monitor has a high refresh rate for the resolution you'll have it set at. The higher the refresh rate, the smoother and more flicker-free the display will be, also having the effect of reducing eye strain. Look for something with an 85Hz refresh rate or better would be best.

    And of course, the bigger the monitor the better. But that goes without saying.
  • by candot (513284) on Sunday March 31, 2002 @12:25AM (#3258101)
    A company called ION Systems makes browser plugin designed to make Web browsing easier for people with vision impairment. It's called Web Eyes [ionsystems.com]. It won't help you program, but it'll make reading /. a little easier. (That, and the threshold filter...)
  • I had a supervisor who had a similar problem...his optic nerve was badly developed from birth. Legally blind (he couldn't drive...and in AK, that is not fun), when he needed to see something on the monitor, he just had his face about 6 inches from the screen, and squinted a lot. Well, worked for him.

  • If you can still find any of the GDM-F500R's, its essentially the same as the F520 but in different (2000 model year) packaging. I think I paid about $1300 for mine. These are the best CRT's that I've ever owned. I also like my SGI 1600SW flatpanel but you either have to live with the crappy video card it requires or shell out $500+ for their "multilink" adapter to hook it to something decent.

    Regarding resolutions, run whatever feels comfortable, but run the highest refresh rate possible.

    HTH.

    Chris
  • The problem with websites is often much more serious than with small monitors. It's easier to set up a text editor or xterm to display large fonts, but with websites things are much more difficult, thanks to incompetent web designers, that's why I'll focus on websites. There are thousands of webmasters out there, for whom a good website looks like this:

    ...
    <body>
    <font size="-1000000">
    everything goes here
    </font>
    </body>
    ...

    This is a serious problem. You can't set your default base font size to 1000 points, just to have 30 points fonts on most websites, because the correctly designed websites (i.e. those which use the default, user defined font size for main text) will have fonts larger than a screen. Sometimes even the website is nearly unusable when you're using larger fonts, because you have to horizontally scroll reading every line of text.

    A quite obvious solution would be to use text mode Lynx [browser.org] browser in xterm window (or dos box in MS-Windows), using 40x20 characters, with very large fonts, so the window takes the whole screen. Unfortunately, most of websites don't work in text mode, not to say about being usable using lines shorter than 80 characters.

    Read My own web design rules [slashdot.org] (my comment to What Makes a Good Web Design [slashdot.org] Slashdot article, which was not very popular when I wrote it, but is in my opinion very important), especially the points entitled:

    • Remember about people with disabilities
    • Fonts
    • User defaults

    Those are in my opinion the most important points to this discussion, but take a look also on:

    • Valid HTML
    • HTML is not a typesetting language
    • Remember about other browsers than yours
    • Colors

    If webmasters while making their websites were only following these few simple rules, there would be no problem. Even the 14 inch screen is big enough to display very large and readable characters using e.g. 40x20, or even 20x10 characters, full-screen windows. The problem is that most of the Web becomes completely unusable in 20x10 characters text mode.

    Let me quote to sentences of Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web:

    • "The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."
    • "Anyone who slaps a 'this page is best viewed with Browser X' label on a Web page appears to be yearning for the bad old days, before the Web, when you had very little chance of reading a document written on another computer, another word processor, or another network."

    Unfortunately, most of web designers don't understand that at all. They are one of the main reasons, why people with poor eyesight have to buy gigantic, expensive monitors.

  • I am a programmer. I too have extremely weak eyes. How bad? Two summers ago, I went to summer intern at a company that bought us brand new 17" SONY trinitron monitors and I ended up in the doctors'. I spend over 50% of my computer budget on monitors. (which is what EVERYONE should do.) I have spent a lot of time on this subject. Let me tell you what I find.

    1. Lighting is VERY important. make sure you have ambient light.

    2. the size of the monitor is also very important, but CRISPNESS is more important. You must make sure that the monitor is CRISP. You cannot really tell if a monitor is CRISP without looking at it. Two monitors with the same pitch distance can be very different when you actually look at them.

    3. You MUST get them with full 3 year warranty. Monitors are so fragile, that it may be already broken during shipment, before you open the box. Monitors, especially big ones, have an extremely high lemon rate. If you spend money on a monitor and you are not satisfied with the image quality, insist on taking it back. You must move it *very* carefully.

    4. LCD vs. CRT. Well. LCD technology is simply not there yet. When IBM shows me the 300dpi monitor I'll take a close look and maybe change my mind. The truth is, For the price you pay for a LCD with high quality digital signals, you'd be so better off with two beautiful 20" high end monitor. Another thing is, in Linux, you can configure 10 different resolutions, all the way from 1200x1600 to 400x600. LCDs cannot scale good. When a LCD is displaying any size that is different from it's own, it interpolates. This anti-aliasing kills your eyes because your eyes tend to think that it is out of focus.

    5. Video card counts. You must get a Matrox. Make damn sure that it doesn't get under 85MHz. Better get higher rates. Hand tune your monitor carefully.

    6. Monitor cables counts a lot, too. Best is high quality BNC cables, they are about $100.

    7. Do yourself a favour, use OPERA as your browser. you can zoom in any size you want with your numeric keypad. Right now I'm typing in half-inch letters.

    8. one thing great about two huge monitors is that you can set one of them at really low resolution, so when you switch to windows. *shame* like VC++ you can see BIG letters.

    9. Picking a monitor is likely shopping for fruit. You must hand pick yours. Even the exact same model have different crispness. Pick a good one.

    This [uiuc.edu] is what my room looks like.

    My school have 20" Trinitron monitors everywhere, but they tire my eyes. If you set up your monitor configuration correctly, you are not likely to be tired for a long long time.

    What's the best CRT monitor? Well I really dislike Trinitron tubes because many of them actually flashes due to the little string that holds the grills turned lose. I heard many many good words about high end EIZO, but they are at $2000 range.

    I know that you are a student, and this sounds very expensive. You must sacrifice everything else to get a good monitor setup if you want to still see in 10 years. It's also a great investment because it last longer than any other parts of your computer, Good luck.

    Another huge earth quake hit Taiwan. Let's pray for them.
  • I'm kind of surprised how many KC'ers have replied. It's not a particularly common condition and I've only met one or two others in person who have it -- but there's a large online community with a very active mailing list (kc-link@nkcf.org that has several hundred subscribers.

    Anyway, I have KC which reached the point where I've had (successful) cornea transplants in both eyes. I still have to wear contact lenses since the transplants, but I can now use relatively ordinary computer displays (e.g., 1024x768 on a 12.1 inch laptop screen).

    Prior to the transplants, I found that a 20 inch monitor running in 800x600 mode with "large fonts" selected in Windows worked well. For character-based work in Linux, a normal 80x25 text display on the 20 inch screen was really easy to read.

    Hang in there -- 90% of KCers get adequate vision with either glasses or rigid contact lenses; for the other 10% (like me), the cornea transplant has a 90%+ success rate.
  • I just got new glasses and the doctor suggested two perscriptions - a lower one for work on the computer (works great for reading too) and a higher one for driving, etc. I've only had them a week and while switching glasses is slightly annoying so far I'm happy. You don't mention if you are near sighted or far sighted but this might work for you...

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!

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