Reducing Eye Strain

Essential For Maintaining Productivity – And Good Health
By MARK DUTKA

Recent studies show that Americans are working more hours than ever and it’s putting an increased strain on our bodies. There’s lots of talk about Carpel Tunnel Syndrome and other maladies, however eye strain is frequently looked upon as simply “part of the job.” Yet eye strain from poor office lighting causes headaches, sore/aching eyes, blurred vision and a decrease in productivity. Here are some expert tips for reducing eye strain from InHouse:

  • Correct lighting requires that two types of lighting be present: ambient light which is a combination of natural light, and light that is usually provided by a ceiling fixture, and task lighting which is provided over a single work area for paperwork, etc. These forms of light should both be present simultaneously, and the combination should ideally change according to the task at hand i.e., when working at a monitor, ambient light may be sufficient. When taking notes or reading at your desk, a task light will need to be added.
  • Design your space so that you’ll be sitting with a track or ceiling light slightly behind you. If it is too far back, it may reflect onto your computer screen causing – you guessed it – eye strain.
  • Halogen task lamps are currently popular, however they can occasionally produce harsh shadows and can be a safety issue, as they are hot and potentially harmful when touched. If you choose to use flourescent lighting instead, choose a warm white bulb (rather than cool white) which provides light closest to the more familiar incandescent bulb we commonly buy at the supermarket.
  • Place your monitor so that it is perpendicular to all of your light sources. This will encourage diffusion and softening of light, and will minimize distracting glare on the screen.
  • Instead of a ceiling light, try using soft, diffused uplighting which bounces off the ceiling and bathes the room in subtle, yet ample light. A torchiere floorlamp will accomplish this.
  • Choose a task lamp with a multi-directional head or polarized lens to direct the light so that it won’t bounce off the worksurface and into your eyes or off the page which you are reading. Also, a dimmer switch on the task light allows for increased flexibility.
  • Make sure your task light has an arm long enough to reach your work area, but does not get in your way. An adjustable arm is optimal so that you can light spaces near the lamp as well as further away on the worksurface.
  • Place the center of your computer screen so that it is 4 to 8 inches lower than your eyes.
  • To reduce not only eye, but neck and shoulder strain as well, place your document holder either right next to your screen at the same height, or directly below it, between your monitor and keyboard.
  • Wipe your screen off frequently. Dust on your computer screen can interfere with clarity, causing eye strain.
  • Seat yourself at arm’s length from your screen. If in this position, it is difficult to see the screen clearly, it may be time to visit an eye specialist.