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Poll: Has working as a translator affected your eyesight?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Jun 11, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Has working as a translator affected your eyesight?".

This poll was originally submitted by Ravi Kumar. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:46
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jun 11, 2015

I originally answered yes, slightly, but my eyesight would probably have deteriorated anyway with ageing. I've been wearing glasses for reading for about 10 years now.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Interesting question Jun 11, 2015

It's hard to tell.

My eyesight was fine for my first 15 years as a translator but has gone downhill fast the last few years. Whether that is computer-related or not I don't know. In theory, it shouldn't be, because screens have got better. But then modern technology also means you don't switch back and forth between screen and paper source text. I still check on paper, which must help a bit.

On balance, sports-related mud and ageing are probably the main causes of the recent decline.

But I have always suffered from eye strain and back strain when I work long hours, which is why I like to stick to four six-hour days a week as far as possible. Once I start working, I just don't get round to breaks and stretching and eye exercises.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:46
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Jun 11, 2015

Don’t know! Would I wear glasses if I had another profession? My eyesight has deteriorated with age. I've been wearing glasses for 25 years, at first just for reading and now… for everything: I just can't see without my glasses!

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:46
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Probably not Jun 11, 2015

I discovered shortly after I started translating that reading glasses were necessary for proofreading, when I actually needed to check the difference between commas and full stops! Then I started using glasses for screen work, and I now use slightly stronger lenses 16 years later.

I belong to the long-sighted half of the family, and was at the age when many others started complaining that their arms were not long enough for reading, or things like that.

I can still see well at long distances if I remember to take my glasses off.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:46
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Probably not Jun 11, 2015

Like everyone who has answered so far, I don't think it's working as a translator that has affected my sight, just the passing years.
I think I look nice in glasses, in a smart red frame, so I don't mind ...


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Natalia Pedrosa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:46
Member (2012)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I just made my first pair of glasses yesterday Jun 11, 2015

For a year now I have been suffering from eye strain and see blurredly at a distance, probably due to long hours in front of my computer. But I make a mess to differentiate between eye strain, short-sight and so on. Let's just say I need glasses. Full stop.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:46
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other - I wouldn't know Jun 11, 2015

At age 41, I was dating the sister of an eye doctor.

Before you get ideas on being late, both of us were divorced, had children, etc. The world is small, later she married a friend of my second wife's from the days they were children. The funny thing was to discover that several years later when the two couples met at a party. They had twins, we had a girl, only a few days' difference in age.

Well the prospective brother-in-law doc was puzzled... "You are 41 and can read without glasses? Something's wrong there. Drop by my office any day, I'll prescribe prescribe you lenses." BTW we don't have optometrists in Brazil; ophthalmologist MDs must do it.

To make a long story short, the moment those new glasses touched my nose, I could no longer read anything on paper but headlines without them. Yet I only needed those glasses for reading; I could see everything very sharp from 5 ft further away.

When I turned 60, upon renewing my driver's license, the M.E. had me look through a hole into an apparatus and tell him what I saw. A blur! Yet I could clearly read all the traffic signs. So I asked him if I should see anything other than a blur there. He told me, "Yes. I am passing you now without endorsements, so you'll have 5 years to get those glasses. Please have them on next time you come here to renew your driver's license."

I'd think translation work would have an impact on the eyesight of people that, for any reason, never watch TV. It's just a matter of keeping focus at the same distance for extended periods of time... coupled with getting old, of course!


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David Earl  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:46
Member (2007)
German to English
Probably not, but... Jun 11, 2015

José's comment about focusing seems reasonable to me as a layperson. When I first saw the question, my thought was "Here we go again with the old wives' tale about too much reading ruining the eyes (kids should be outside playing sports)". My own opinion is that this tale puts the cart before the horse. I think that we do things that fit our abilities and if we have bad eyesight as kids, we avoid sports (and being hit by small hard objects that we can't see, like baseballs).

Let me add my own experience without application of "good" or "bad". I've had poor eyesight all of my life. As a kid, I compensated as much as possible so that I could do a good job. The vision tests in elementary school(s) were the only tests that I cheated. It was a test, right? What kid wants to fail a test? My teachers and mother never quite seemed to realize that my grades depended heavily on where I was sitting in the class. The closer I was to the board, the better I behaved (the less I talked with other students...most likely asking them what was on the board...I liked school as a kid, except for gym and maybe shop classes). This continued from kindergarten to 5th grade, from Detroit/Ann Arbor to Colorado Springs.

As part of fifth grade science in Colorado, we were introduced to optics. By pure chance, the material used pictures of the ostriches in the Detroit Zoo. I took the book home, showed my mother the pictures and said "Hey, that's how I see the world". She said, "We're going to see the eye doctor". End result: in fifth grade my eyesight was -5 (extremely near-sighted).

For most of my life, my prescription was stable at -7. To provide one example for people with "perfect" eyesight, clear vision was limited to the length of a razor handle; needed my glasses to shave when using a mirror and otherwise I shave like any blind person would, by touch. At forty-something, the aging process started to take hold and now I'm at -10 with reading and distance glasses. I think this disability was built into the DNA and how those building blocks decided to shape the eye itself.

For what it's worth, I may have avoided sports, but I used to like astronomy as a kid and (attempting to) pick out the constellations with the naked eye as well as exploring my environment in various cities/towns/dorfs, whether walking city blocks or hiking over hill and dale. Even now, when I take breaks, I look around at the world and try to pick out details of architecture, people or whatever. Until José mentioned it, I hadn't really considered that I might have been exercising my eye muscles.

So...you know; just life as I see it. 8)

David.


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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:46
English to Polish
No Jun 11, 2015

My eyes are still fine, and I hope they'll stay that way as long as possible, but certainly age will change that some day. Translation? No.

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Natalie Soper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:46
French to English
+ ...
Kind of Jun 11, 2015

Studying my Master's degree in translation was what made my eyesight deteriorate! Now I need glasses for distance, like driving...

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Serena Basili  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 21:46
English to Italian
+ ...
Yes, but not that much Jun 11, 2015

I've been wearing glasses since I was 9, and I've always needed to wear them (or contact lenses) to see what's around me as I'm almost blind

Eye-surgeons from all around the world, please help me!


[Edited at 2015-06-11 11:38 GMT]


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:46
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other - I don't know Jun 11, 2015

What I do know is that when I was around 40 I read a large dictionary from cover to cover. I used my husband's glasses because the print was small. Shortly afterwards I could no longer see to read without glasses. I don't know if it was the fine print or the fact of wearing his glasses that turned the tide, but after that I was stuck.


Until .... (drumroll) ... I got "second sight."

When I started to get cataracts, for several years my eyesight was actually *better*. I staggered the surgery 3 years apart, so I had about six good years hardly needing glasses all until I finally had to cave in and get the second surgery.


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Roni_S  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 21:46
Slovak to English
Hard to say Jun 11, 2015

I would probably be in the same condiition, translator or not. But suffice it to say, I recently agreed to a translation that because of my poor eyesight on my phone, I saw 10 pages and the actual job involves nearly 40 - no idea how that escaped me - I am now rushing to finish, and hoping I don't turn in a bad non-native-sounding job

[Edited at 2015-06-11 14:32 GMT]


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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 14:46
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No Jun 11, 2015

As a matter of fact, translation has strengthened my skills to find words and terms faster than "normal" humans.

X: How do you do that?
Y: I read since 5 years old.
X: Do you love reading?????
Y: Yes.
X: You are so bizarre!
Y:


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