A month or so ago, I went in for an eye exam. I’ve worn glasses for over thirty years, so you would think that I would be better about getting them checked up on by now. I’m not.
While the overall verdict was that my eyes are as good (and bad) as they have been for years, the eye doctor expressed some concern over strain due to my heavy screen usage. The dialog for that went something like:
“How long would you say you stare at a screen during the day?”
“Minimum 12 hours, unless it’s a work day, then longer.”
While it’s true, there’s no way to lower that number too much without a drastic career change, I realized there were a few things I could do. One of the biggest changes I could make with actual impact was in my reading habits.
It should be no shock that you can usually find me with a book at hand. In fact, since I bought my first first generation kindle (used) “back in the day,” I’ve had a Kindle – or Kindle app – at hand at all times. The reason has always been two-fold. One reason is the sheer convenience of being able to read and buy books at any time of day, any place. I dread that void between books, gladly grabbing anything I can to fill it until I get a hold of something more permanent. Owning a Kindle has fed that need, and fed it well. The second factor, if I’m being honest, is that I’m lazy. As of a few years ago, reading on the Kindle meant it didn’t matter which device was at hand, I could pick up where I left off. Only have my phone handy? No problem. Have a Kindle at home and in my bag and keep them in sync? No problem. But I also realize that isn’t helping my eyes. Whether e-ink displays cause the same strain is the subject of much argument. But the simple fact is, given the plethora of Kindle app/fire devices at my disposal, I can rarely guarantee that it’s an e-ink display I’m using anyway.
Which isn’t to say that I’ve abandoned Kindle books all together. I’m crazy, but not a fool. What I have done, though, is begun to make a more concerted effort to read paper. Is it helping my eyes? I’m not sure. But I’m learning that Kindle books don’t save me any money. In fact, it may cost me more, since I will more willingly buy – and abandon – an ebook, whereas paper, even though it costs roughly the same, I am more likely to see through to the end and be more discriminate in the purchase of. I’ve even gone so far as to join the SFBC. If I’m going to be reading the books anyway, I might as well get a decent discount on them, right?
The irony of someone that writes book in this day and age, with an eye towards digital publication, should have a preference for reading paper books is not lost on me. But, we are cursed to forever live in interesting times it seems.
[EDIT] Thanks to my love, who pointed out the autocorrect mistake of “rights books” vs “writes books” in the last paragraph. Granted, I am all for the rights of books to exist, but that probably wasn’t my intent there.