Ergonomics done right.®
July 15th, 2014

Three Tips to Improve Age-Related Vision Problems

by Blake McGowan, CPE

As we age, it is common to experience vision challenges, especially in the office environment. These difficulties are often related to lighting (i.e., luminance) and the contrast of information on the screen or paper.200517996-001

Here’s an explanation of three specific vision challenges:

1.Visual acuity is the ability to resolve fine detail. This decreases with age due to eye pathologies (e.g., cataracts, glaucoma) and the deterioration of the visual pathways.
2. Visual accommodation (i.e., presbyopia) is the ability to focus on close objects and it starts to decline at age 40.  The lens of the eye loses its ability to adjust the curvature, making it difficult to see objects up close.
3. Glare is caused when exposure to light levels is greater than the eye can accommodate. As the eye ages, changes in the cornea scatter the light before it reaches the retina and causes the lens to absorb more light.  As the pupil size decreases, less light reaches the retina, making the aging eye slower to adapt to changing light conditions.

To improve your vision in the office environment, follow these three tips:

1. Get your vision checked annually. Depending on the results of your eye exam, your eye specialist may recommend bifocals, trifocals or computer glasses.
2. Place visual displays (i.e., computer monitors) or paper reading materials, directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away, and at or slightly below eye level.
3. Provide task lighting with higher luminance than overhead lighting.  Minimizing shiny office equipment (e.g., phone, keyboard, mouse, display) will reduce glare too.

Common symptoms of age-related vision problems can include eyestrain, irritation, headaches, fatigue, and even musculoskeletal injury.  For information on how to implement an ergonomics program, visit