SANDY BERGER: New Technology Makes Computing Easier on Your Eyes
Your vision is an important gift that you use just about every waking moment of every day.
Between sunny days and low-light situations, your vision gets a real workout. Using a computer can stress your vision even more. Yet, using a computer doesn't have to give you a headache, blurred vision or dry eyes. There are steps that you can take to help protect your vision while working on the computer.
The first thing that you should consider is purchasing one of the newer flat-panel monitors. These LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors are not only smaller and lighter than the big old chunky monitors of yesterday, but they are also easier on the eyes.
The old CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors flicker on and off very quickly. While the eye cannot necessarily see this flicker, it can cause eye strain and headaches.
The new flat-panel monitors produce a steadier stream of light that is much easier on the eyes. Also, flat-panel monitors can be found in much larger sizes. Being able to fit more on the screen makes looking at the screen easier.
Luckily, the price of LCD monitors has plummeted recently. One that cost $1,500 when LCD monitors first appeared can now be purchased for less than $150. Choose a monitor that is as large as your desk and your pocketbook will support. If for some reason you cannot move to an LCD monitor right now, you will want to increase the refresh rate on your old CRT monitor. You can find instructions on how to do this by Googling "change monitor refresh rate."
The average computer user spends more than 80 percent of his or her time on computers reading on the screen. Text on an LCD monitor is much clearer than text on an old CRT monitor.
But there is also another technological improvement that makes text even clearer. A Microsoft technology called ClearType improves the readability of text on LCDs by what is called font-rendering. ClearType makes the letters on the computer screen smoother so they look much clearer and sharper.
The ClearType technology was introduced in Windows XP and has been improved with every new version of Windows. So the ClearType technology in Windows Vista is better than the one in Windows XP, and the ClearType in Windows 7 is better than it was in Windows Vista.
ClearType is turned on by default in Vista and Windows 7, so you don't have to change any settings to get it to work. In Windows 7, you will even find a place where you can fine tune ClearType to suit your monitor. (Look in the Display settings in the Control Panel.)
If you are using Windows XP, you will have to turn ClearType on yourself. You can get instructions for how to do this by surfing over to the Microsoft Web site at www.microsoft.com and typing ClearType into the search box.
Also, don't strain your eyes by squinting at small type on the computer screen. You can adjust the size of things on the screen by changing the screen resolution, but that takes a lot of patience, especially in Windows XP. Windows 7 makes everything much easier by giving you a setting in which you can make the text and other items on your screen larger without changing the resolution of the screen. If you are using Windows 7, you can do this in the Display settings in the Control Panel.
You can also change the size of everything on the screen when you are browsing the Qeb. Most Internet browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Firefox, have the ability to zoom in and make everything on the screen larger and easier to read. You can check this out by looking in the Help menu for your browser.
Or you can try one of the following two shortcuts, which will work in most browsers. When you have any Web page on the screen, just hold down the Ctrl key and press the + key at the same time. This will make everything on the screen larger. Press the Ctrl key and the key at the same time to make everything smaller.
If you have a mouse with a small wheel between the key, you can also use your mouse to make things larger and/or smaller. Just hold down the Ctrl key and move the mouse wheel at the same time. Moving the mouse wheel up while holding down the Ctrl key will make things larger. Moving it down will make things smaller.
One advantage to using the scroll wheel on the mouse is that it also works in other programs, like Microsoft Word and many e-mail programs.
All versions of Microsoft Windows as well as the Mac operating system also have a built-in magnifier. If you really need to make things much larger, you may want to check out this feature. To learn more about it, see the Help menu for your operating system. In all versions of Windows, you can simply press the F1 key when you are at the Windows desktop to get to the Windows Help menu.
As you can see, technology has been getting better and better at helping to protect our eyes. The newer monitors and the newer operating systems are all easier on the eyes than older equipment and older versions. Be sure to take advantage of some of this technology to keep your eyes from becoming strained when you use the computer.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your questions and comments on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compukiss.com/happycomputing.
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