A recent battle with eyesight problems, which played havoc with my usually prolific writing schedule, prompted some changes to my hardware and software setup. I thought I might share these changes should they be of any use to any fellow writers out there.
I won’t go into the details of my eyesight problems. Suffice to say that deteriorating focus, headaches, and warped imagery were all involved. Whilst medical treatment has helped dramatically, I also made the following changes – and I love my Ducky!
1: A new PC Monitor: For my main monitor, I replaced my trusty, though ageing, Philips monitor with a new 28” BenQ monitor. The Philips is now my 2nd monitor and my even older 19” Acer has now ascended to Monitor Heaven (some dark place in the attic known only to my hubby). Not only does the increased screen size of the BenQ mean I’m not squinting as much at small details, but it also has ‘flicker free’ eyecare technology, which is much easier on the eyes and less likely to induce headaches. It also has built-in blue filter settings for late night typing, but I use software for this, so have not used this feature. It also has a great picture, and wasn’t expensive, which is always nice.
2: Ease of Access Settings: My eldest son, who is tech savvy, introduced me to the Ease of Access settings in Windows 10. These can be found by clicking the Settings icon in the Start Menu, and then selecting Ease of Access. In Ease of Access/Display, you can increase the size of text (I use 125%) and also ‘Make Everything Bigger’ (I use 150%). In Ease of Access/Curser & Pointer, you can increase the size of your curser (I use 2 or 3) and also ‘Make the Curser Easier to See When Typing’ (the icon that changes the curser from white to black depending on the background colour is interesting). Experiment with these settings to find what suits you. You can of course use the zoom feature in your word processing software, but with these settings you may not have to.
3: ClearType: This is a Windows feature that can improve the readability of text and is very easy to set up. Just type Cleartype in the Windows search bar and click on ‘Adjust ClearType text’ in the list. Then, you simply follow the instructions and choose the text that looks best to you. If you have more than one monitor then you can set it up for both.
4: My lovely Ducky! Another change, though not as directly related to my eyesight problems, is the acquisition of a mechanical keyboard. For those that don’t know, a mechanical keyboard has a sturdy switch for each key, rather than a mushy membrane. This is more like the computer keyboards from the 1980’s and can give the typist both audible and tactile feedback.
Ducky, a respected Taiwanese brand, produce clean design mechanical keyboards for both typists and gamers and my son had one spare, which he gave to me to try (keep). The Ducky uses Cherry MX switches, which are good quality. My one has brown switches, which have a tactile ‘bump’ as you press, but not a loud click. Red’s, mainly for gamers, have no bump or click, and blues have both a bump and a click. As a touch-typist, having tactile feedback has transformed my typing. I make far fewer mistakes, especially missed keystrokes. In time, I intend to upgrade to a new Ducky with adjustable backlight illumination. I may get a blue switch version, with a louder click for increased touch-typing goodness (obviously not a good choice if there are other people around when you’re typing).
The combination of these changes has really helped my writing and my eyesight. It is important to remember however, that there is no substitute for simply giving your eyes a rest from the PC screen. It is all too easy to take a break from writing your next bestseller and switch to browsing for a while. You really need to regularly look/get away from your monitor and treat your eyes to some longer distance focus; even if it means just gazing out of the window and watching the world go by.