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Eyes Alarm is a nice take-a-break add-on for Firefox and Chrome

We discuss many Firefox add-ons and Chrome extensions here on gHacks, but the majority of those are either related to security or productivity. Today we take a look at a different category: health.

More specifically, eye care. A lot of users work in front of a computer for long hours every day and unless precautions are taken to take enough breaks, it can lead to health issues.

Try to observe (or ask someone) how often you blink naturally, you may be surprised by the result. This is a result of too much time spent staring at a monitor. To counter this, you should look away from the screen from time to time as it relaxes the eyes and helps prevent the issue.

Tip: we reviewed several programs for Windows that assist you in taking breaks and prevent eye strain. To name just a few: Eye Guardian, Eyecare, and Eyes Relax.

Eye Alarm

Eyes Alarm is a nice take-a-break add-on for Firefox and Chrome

Eyes Alarm is an add-on for Firefox and Chrome that can help you with this.

You can also use it as a break reminder to stretch your legs or maybe get a glass of water to drink. It’s very user-friendly and has a few options that you can customize. When it is time for you to take a break, the add-on will display a notification on your desktop that informs you about it.

Eyes Alarm pop-up notification

Coming to the add-on’s UI, Eyes Alarm adds a clock icon to the toolbar that you may click on to display a pop-up menu. It has a timer (explained below), a reset switch and a gear icon. The reset switch can be used to restart the timer and the gear icon lets you access Eyes Alarm’s settings.

By default, Eyes Alarm reminds you to take a break once every 50 minutes. That’s what the “timer” is for, it displays the time that has passed since the previous break. You can set it to as low as 1 minute or as high as 180 minutes.

Eyes Alarm pop-up menu

Next you have the break timer which is set to 10 minutes. And just like the reminder timer, this too can be configured from 1 to 120 minutes. There is an option to change the notification title which reads “Time to break” by default but you can set it to anything you want to.

You can also modify the notification content. The default line is “How about a cup of tea?”. This feature allows you to use the add-on for reminders for things to do (on a short-time basis) as well. I don’t think it is a good idea to use it for medical purposes like taking pills.

Note: Once the break timer runs out, it starts the alarm timer automatically.

What if you miss the notification though? Eyes Alarm has an optional notification sound setting which is disabled by default. It allows you to set a custom volume level for the sound. As for the sound itself, it does ship with one (a gentle bell chime). You can use custom sounds too by pasting a URL into the field.

I tried setting it to use a different local audio but it didn’t work for me in Firefox or Chrome (Microsoft Edge Chromium Beta). What did work was setting a direct URL to an mp3 audio file.

One issue which I was concerned about was the “access your data for all websites”.  The developer’s note at the add-on’s page state that permission is required as you can put in any path for custom sounds. That does make sense but these global permissions are still nerve wrecking in my opinion.

Note: Modifying any of the settings restarts the alarm timer even if you didn’t alter the timer’s settings.

Closing Words

Eyes Alarm is an open source project; you can find the source code on GitHub. Apart from the odd grammatical error or two, the add-on is quite good. You can also use programs like F.lux or Lightbulb to reduce eye strain in all applications and not just your browser. These programs are not break reminders though but they change the light of the computer screen instead.

Eyes Alarm worked well during tests

Now you: Do you use any health related add-ons?

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