7 Free Tools to Remind You to Take a Break and Relax Your Eyes
Article by George Norman
On 09 Oct 2015
It’s easy to get caught up with work, browsing the web, watching online videos, and other things of the sort. How many times did you tell yourself “I’m just going to browse for a couple of minutes” and ended up spending hours in front of the computer?

It’s not a good idea to spend long amounts of time staring into a monitor. You should take a break every once in a while and relax your eyes. Otherwise, you could end up with something like Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), a condition that affects about 90% of the people who spend three hours or more a day at a computer.

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CVS gives you headaches, blurred vision, neck pain, redness in the eyes, fatigue, eye strain, dry eyes, irritated eyes, double vision, vertigo/dizziness, polyopia, and difficulty refocusing the eyes.

I know how easy it is to lose track of time and spend hours on end in front of the monitor. And I'll be the first one to admit that I lack the necessary discipline to take regular breaks and I need a helping hand. If you're like me, you'll want to check out this list of free tools that will remind you to take a break and relax your eyes.


1. EyesProtector – Take a break, do some eye gymnastics

EyesProtector will tell you when it’s time to take a break and give your eyes a much needed break. Here’s an example: after an hour of solid work, it will get you to take a 1 minute break. EyesProtector silently runs in the background, counting down to when it’s time to take a break. And when it’s time to take a break, it brings up an audio and visual notification, inviting you to take a break or perform some eye gymnastics.



EyesProtector comes with an interesting Eye Gymnastics feature. These are simple exercises meant to activate the blood flow around your eyes. The blood delivers more oxygen to your eyes and that helps avoid many problems related to working in front of the computer for a long time.



A simple alarm clock is built into EyesProtector.



EyesProtector Free does not let you change the developer’s default settings. EyesProtector Demo is free to use for a lengthy period of 90 days. The detailed help documentation that accompanies this application does a proper job of explaining everything that EyesProtector can do. Said documentation is available as a Help file that accompanies the application and it’s available on the official EyesProtector website as well.


2. Eyes Relaxing and Focusing – Relax and put your eyes to the test

By default, Eyes Relaxing and Focusing will let you work for 60 minutes. When that time is up, the application will launch a feature called Visual Training. Meant to get you to take a break, of course, this Visual Training will display some interesting images, advise you to sit back, and instruct you to relax your eyes.



Eyes Relaxing and Focusing comes with an Eye Examination feature that works like this: you’ll be shown 4 rectangles and you’ll have to select the one that is different from all the others.



Eyes Relaxing and Focusing is free software developed by LiteManagerTeam.


3. Pause4Relax – It’s time to Relax!

Pause4Relax, a free and portable application for Windows, sits in the system tray, counting down to your “next relaxation”. By default, Pause4Relax asks you to take a break every 30 minutes. You can skip the break or add 5. 10, or 15 minutes to it.



Better still, you can access the Settings menu and enter custom values for your “next relaxation.” Please note that you’ll have to restart the application for the changes to take effect.



When it’s time to take a break, Pause4Relax will put an “It’s time to Relax!” overlay on your screen. The cool thing is that you cannot close it! You’ll really have to take a break and rest your eyes.

Pause4Relax is free software hosted on SourceForge.


4. EyePro – Take short and long breaks

EyePro will remind you to take short breaks and it will remind you to take long breaks. It will ask you to take a short 5 seconds break every 1 hour. And every 3 hours, it will invite you to take a 3 minutes break. These are the default values that can be easily modified from the settings menu.



From the EyeCare Tips section you can access some useful information about preventing eye strain. And from the Addons section you can access a series of games that can help improve your eye health.



EyePro is a free ClassleSoft product.


5. Eyescare – It scares you into taking a break

The Belgian Association of Optometrists is aware that you spend about 8 hours a day in front of your computer and you don’t take any breaks to give your eyes time to relax. So it teamed up with a local creative agency, came up with Eyescare, and released it to with coincide with Belgium’s National Eye Health Week.

Eyescare’s approach is…interesting. You see, it scares you into taking a break. What else did you expect from an application whose motto is “Care for your eyes by scaring them”? Run the app on your PC or Mac and every 20 minutes it will present a disgusting image on your screen, forcing you to look away.

There are no settings to play with. Eyescare sits in the system tray, running silently in the background. Once 20 minutes pass, it shows you a gross picture to get you to take a break.

Learn more about Eyescare by visiting its official website or by watching the video embedded below. Caution! The video presents one of the disgusting images that Eyescare uses.




6. StretchClock – Do some simple exercises at your desk

The StretchClock break reminder tool does more than just tell you when it’s time to take a break and relax your eyes. It presents a few simple exercises you can do at your desk, exercises that will help you stretch your back and avoid problems such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

By default, StretchClock will remind you to take a break every 1 hour (this default behavior can be changed from the Settings menu). During each break, StretchClock will present a quick and easy stretch that you can do at your desk.

As you can see on the official StretchClock website, this break reminder is available for multiple platforms, including Firefox. The free version is ad-supported, has limited features, and provides access to a limited number of exercises. The premium version comes with…with all of these.




7. Take a Break – Simple add-on for Mozilla’s Firefox web browser

This is a simple add-on for Mozilla’s Firefox will come in handy if you’re the type of person who spends hours on end surfing the web.



The add-ons icon will flash every 15 minutes to remind you to take a short break. And a pop-up reminder will show up once and hour to remind you to take a longer break. The pop-up reminder looks like this.



Go get the Take a Break add-on from AMO.


UPDATE March 8, 2016

Here's a closer look at the risks associated with spending prolonged periods of time in front of a computer screen, the most common digital eye strain symptoms, and how to prevent eye health problems.




Tags: eyes, break, relax, eye strain, computer, monitor, EyesProtector, Eyes Relaxing and Focusing, Pause4Relax, EyePro, Eyescare, StretchClock, Take a Break, free, software, Microsoft, Windows, Firefox, Mozilla
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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