Office Ergonomics Tips for the Aging Workforce
The number of older workers in the United States workforce continues to grow. Perhaps you are, or soon will be, part of this crowd. As we age, our capabilities change. In order to continue performing at our best, we may need to make changes in our workplace.
One of the first physical changes you may notice are changes in your eyesight. Although the changes began when we were much younger, most people start noticing them in their early forties. These vision changes include:
- decreased ability to focus on nearby and/or small objects,
- a need for increased amount of light or contrast, and
- increased sensitivity to glare.
If you have a job that involves using a computer, these changes in your vision can impact your performance and your comfort while working. Fortunately, there are some simple adjustments that you can make to better fit your work environment to your current capabilities:
Use a larger monitor.
A larger monitor allows for larger text and image sizes, minimizing the impact of changes in vision focus.
Move the monitor farther away.
Another benefit of a larger monitor is that you can position it farther away from you. Everyone can benefit from the longer viewing distance, but it is particularly useful as we age because of our decreased ability to focus on closer objects.
Lower the monitor slightly.
If you are wearing bifocal or progressive lenses for computer work, positioning your monitor lower can reduce awkward neck postures. However, pay attention to any increase in glare on the screen when you change the height. Control the source of the glare or adjust your monitor position to avoid it.
Increase font size.
To maximize the benefit of using a larger screen, increase the size of the text using the general display and program settings.
Adjust monitor brightness.
Use the contrast setting on your monitor to increase brightness. We need a higher amount of contrast as we age, and this is the simplest way to achieve that on a computer display.
Use task lights.
Another way to increase contrast is to reduce overall lighting and make greater use of task lights. A lower overall level of light in the room creates an increased contrast between the light from your computer display and the information on the screen. Task lighting provides the necessary contrast for working from paper.
Consider computer-specific glasses.
The focus distance in bifocals or readers is closer than a typical monitor distance. Progressive lenses can include the monitor viewing distance but may require frequent neck movements to see different parts of the screen. Corrective lenses adjusted to the viewing distance to your monitor can reduce stress on the eyes and neck muscles.