Sight Experiment
Bob Holling

Lately I've noticed rather extreme eye fatigue while reading on the computer screen. Hadn't happened before that I can remember, unless I was reading lots and lots of text for a long period of time. Part of me figured I'm just getting old (which is absolutely not true!), or still drinking too much on the job.

But! I was reading a book on typography last night (while lying down - bad for your eyes), I came across visual comparisons of aliased and anti-aliased text, and I read that the way computers approximate the lovely curves of printed type is to blur pixels to 'suggest' the correct shape.

Shocking? No, of course not. Anyone who uses computers enough--and certainly designers--know that that's how it works. However, what I hadn't put together was that this actually blurs the edges of the type, and as you read, it can produce eye fatigue.

After poking around a bit today, I discovered a setting on my Mac that allows me to "Turn off text smoothing for font sizes XX and smaller." I've engaged that option for font sizes 12 and smaller. The result? It's like my lovely modern applications have been smacked with an ugly stick. But a very clear ugly stick.

Dear readers, I'll keep you posted on the state of my eyes during this experiment, and if next time you see me I'm wearing coke-bottle glasses which have slid down to the point of my nose, you won't have to ask. Bottoms up!