by Katie Grosteffon, AEP
If you spend the majority of your work day at the computer, consider some of these tips to prevent visual discomfort:
- Position your monitor. The closer your monitor is, the harder your eyes will have to work to focus. So place the screen as far from your eyes as possible, provided you can still easily read the text on the screen without squinting or craning your neck. Make sure the screen is at least 18” away from your eyes. Increase the font size or ask your eye doctor about computer glasses if you cannot read the screen at this distance. If you work with printed documents while you are on the computer, use a document holder to keep the document at the same distance from your eyes as the screen, to prevent constant re-focusing of your eyes.
- Reduce glare. If your monitor has a matte finish, you most likely don’t have any glare issues. However, if you can see the reflection of windows or lights in your screen, you should reposition your monitor and/or lights to reduce the glare. Position the monitor perpendicular to light sources. Also, using privacy screens can sometimes cause glare and increase eyestrain. Unless a privacy screen is required to protect sensitive data, take it off your monitor.
- Take micro-breaks. Your eyes work hard to focus on the “close” objects at your desk, so take frequent, short breaks to let your eyes focus on distant objects. Follow the “20-20-20 rule” – every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds to rest your eyes.
- Blink! Sometimes, if you are focusing hard on computer work, your eyes don’t blink as much as needed, causing dry eyes. Try to remember to blink regularly while you work to lubricate your eyes. If you have trouble, stick a post-it note that says “Blink!” to your monitor as a reminder.
- Check your lighting levels. The lighting in your office should be bright enough for paperwork, but not too bright for computer work. Insufficient light can cause eyestrain, while overly bright lighting can cause glare and visual discomfort. If you have access to a light meter, measure the light at your desk. For general office work, light levels should be around 500 lux, but more may be needed for visually intensive tasks. If lighting is too dim, add additional lighting overhead or use a task lamp. If the lights are too bright, close window shades, switch off some of the lights, or remove a few light bulbs from overhead fixtures.