Prevent Eye Strain While Working On Your Linux Desktop With Safe Eyes

Safe Eyes is a free and open source Linux application that regularly reminds you to take short breaks for your eyes, preventing eye strain, useful for those spending a long time in front of the computer.

Safe Eyes Break screen
The Safe Eyes break screen

Eye strain is an eye condition that includes symptoms like fatigue, blurred vision, headache, double vision, or pain in or around the eyes. Safe Eyes prevents eye strain by reminding you to take breaks, while also showing some simple eye exercises during each break. You can set it to allow postponing and skip breaks, or disable skipping breaks completely.

While most of the predefined break exercises are eye-related, these are configurable, so you can use any text you want for both short and long breaks.

About two weeks ago, Safe Eyes got an update that added a couple of new buttons on the break screen (in the top right-hand side corner), which let users pause media players or lock the screen manually, even after a short break.

Safe Eyes features:

  • Remind you to take breaks with exercises to reduce RSI
  • Strict mode, which doesn't allow skipping or postponing the break
  • Notification before and after breaks (system and audio notifications)
  • Smart pause if system is idle
  • Multi-monitor support
  • Configurable break interval, duration, break text and settings, etc.
  • Option to disable Safe Eyes for a predefined time period or until the computer is restarted
  • Lock screen integration (the default screensaver / screen locker is used to lock the computer on long breaks)
  • Customizable user interface using CSS
  • RPC API to control externally and command-line arguments to control the running instance
  • Customizable using plug-ins (there is only one plugin available right now, which displays the weather on top of the Safe Eyes break screen)

There are various advanced options as well. For example, an option I like is available via the Do Not Disturb plugin, which skips break if the active window is in fullscreen mode - it can be configured to not interrupt when particular windows are present, or to automatically enter not disturb while on battery.

Safe Eyes tray icon and settings
Safe Eyes tray icon and settings

Safe Eyes can be controlled from its tray icon (which is implemented as as an optional plugin), but it works without it.

Instead of accessing the settings from the tray icon menu, launch Safe Eyes from the applications menu a second time, and its settings window will open instead of running a second instance of the application. Other actions present in the tray menu can be passed from the command line, like disabling Safe Eyes, forcing a break, and more.

Download Safe Eyes

The Safe Eyes installation section includes instructions for installing the application in Arch Linux, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

Safe Eyes is available in the Debian Buster and Sid, Ubuntu 18.04, 18.10 and 19.04, and Linux Mint 18 / 18.* repositories. You can install it using:

sudo apt install safeeyes

To install the latest version from a PPA, see the instructions on the Safe Eyes website.