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Doctors' app scares people from their screens -- for their own good

Technically Incorrect: A group of Belgian optometrists say that you need to regularly avert your eyes from the screen. So they create an app that regularly sends you disturbing images.

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A sample of the images sent by the app. Eyescare

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Sometimes, the only way to make humankind pay attention is to give it a severe jolt.

This was the decision of the Belgian Association of Optometrists.

Their science tells them that people who stare at computer screens for eight hours a day are jeopardizing their health. Your eyes need a rest. But how can you tell people that they need to drag their gaze away from their screens every 20 minutes for at least 2o seconds and stare at something at least 20 feet away?

Oh, it's just like curing the hiccups: You have to scare someone out of their wits.

So, together with a local creative agency, they created Eyescare. It's really simple. You download it onto your Mac or Windows PC, and every 20 minutes it sends you disgusting images that make you recoil as if you've just seen a rabbit skinned by Darth Vader in the middle of your local bar.

"The idea came when my sight became hazy one day after spending a long day at work looking at my screen," said Diederik Jeangout of the Famous creative agency. "I started looking up what you can do about it but quickly realized that there was no way that I had the discipline to follow the 20-20-20 rule."

When you don't have discipline, you have to resort to more aggressive tactics. You pump out images of truly awful things that ought to make people turn away.

Together with the optometrists, they timed the release of the app to coincide with the country's National Eye Health Week.

I worry, however, that it will be less effective than they hoped. I fancy that people really like to look at disgusting things. They waft regularly to horror movies. They seek out nasty pictures online and even get extra amusement from sharing them with friends.

Might this not happen with Eyescare?

It's also unclear what precise sorts of nasty images will be pumped out. The creators say that they "have a database full of some of the Internet's finest full-screen pictures that will make you go "arggh.'"

They might. But will you actually turn your head away?

The image they've released featuring a foot that clearly has some scabby issues is mildly disturbing, but does it make you turn your eyes away? Not quite for me, I'm afraid. But perhaps I'm immune to recoiling, other than when I see a picture of certain politicians.

One can only wish the creators good fortune. I look forward to tales of people sitting in meetings, their laptops before them, when suddenly someone turns away violently and screams: "Urrrghhhhh."

Such a thing would liven up most meetings.