How to Reduce Eye Strain on Linux Ubuntu Systems

While eyes are unarguably one of the most precious organs of the human body, the kind of life we live today – excess use of TVs, gaming consoles, and computers (especially) – isn’t good for our eyes. If you use these digital devices for leisure, then you should make sure that you are making the effort to reduce eye strain, as otherwise it’ll take a toll on your eyes.

However, if your professional work involves spending hours with a device such as your computer on a daily basis, then what should you do? Well, besides getting your eyes checked regularly and avoiding prolonged working hours, you should use dedicated software that prompts you to take frequent work breaks, something which is really beneficial for your eyes.

In this article we will discuss how you can reduce eye strain and even get reminded about eye-related exercises if you are using the Ubuntu operating system.

In order to launch short breaks in Ubuntu and hence protect your eyes from strain, you need to install a software called Safe Eyes. Use the following commands to download and install this tool:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:slgobinath/safeeyes
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt install safeeyes

Note 1: please keep in mind that all the commands and instructions mentioned in this article have been tested on Ubuntu 16.04. The tool, however, has been officially tested by the author on Ubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 16.10, Linux Mint 18, and Ubuntu Mate 16.04 as well. For instructions on how to install Safe Eyes on other Linux distributions, head to the tool’s GitHub page.

Once the tool is installed, you can launch it by searching for Safe Eyes in the Ubuntu Dash.

safe-eyes-dash-icon

The launch action doesn’t produce a GUI straight away – it silently puts the Safe Eyes icon in your Ubuntu box’s system tray. The following screenshot shows the menu options that are produced when the icon is clicked.

safe-eyes-menu

The first option is nothing but the amount of time that’s left for the upcoming break. The second option, “Enable Safe Eyes,” is selected by default, but you can click it again to turn the tool off. Then there’s a “Settings” option. Clicking it produces the tool’s configuration menu (see below).

safe-eyes-config-options

Here you can see that there are two types of Safe Eyes breaks: long (for complete body exercises) and short (for eye-related exercises only). You can customize the duration of both types of breaks here. Then, there’s also an option to configure the interval between two breaks, the number of short breaks between two long breaks, and the time the tool gives to the user before launching a break.

Normally, the break screen contains a Skip button in case there’s something really urgent going on, and you can’t afford to have a delay. But, if you want, you can make Safe Eyes delay mandatory by turning on the “Strict break” option in the “Settings” menu. This option is especially useful in case you are configuring the tool on your child’s computer and want to make sure that they are obeying the tool.

Here are a couple of screenshots that will give you an idea on how the tool issues notifications before launching a break and how the actual break screen looks.

safe-eyes-break-prepare

safe-eyes-screen-locked

As you can see in the screenshot above (sorry for the poor quality as I had to capture it using my mobile phone), the tool also reminds users about some useful eye exercises that they can do during this time. Aside from “Roll your eyes,” some of the other exercise suggestions that I saw include “tightly close your eyes,” “rotate your eyes in clockwise direction,” and “walk for a while.”

The following is the complete list of features Safe Eyes offers:

    • Short breaks with eye exercises
    • Long breaks to change physical position and to warm up
    • Strict break for those who are addicted to the computer
    • Highly customizable
    • Do not disturb when working with fullscreen applications (e.g. watching movies)
    • Disable the keyboard during break
    • Notifications before every break
    • Multi-workspace support
    • Multi-monitor support
    • Elegant and customizable design
    • Multi-language support

If the nature of your job involves working on a computer (or looking at a screen for an extended period of time), then you should start thinking about your eyes right away. Look for ways you can reduce eye strain (including using software like Take a Break), and make a point to regularly exercise your eyes. Keep in mind that any fatal eye problem can leave you jobless for the rest of your life.

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