Eliminate Glare - Instantly Feel Better
If you have ever participated in any of my training or engaged with me for ergonomic challenges and evaluations, you know that one of the first tips I will give you is that our eyes control our posture and if our eyes are not happy, we will subconsciously alter our posture to make them happy. What often happens here is that we end up in an awkward posture typically because something in our workspace is not right and our eyes cause our bodies to work around it.
These awkward postures, if left unchecked, have the potential to cause discomfort, fatigue and possibly injury over time. Because these issues occur slowly, compounded by incorrect posture, they creep up on us and its often tricky to determine the root cause unlike an acute injury such as a slip and fall that is sudden and more defined.
If our eyes have that level of control, then it makes sense to look at factors that might be troubling them which is usually the height and/or depth of our monitor and the subtle nuisance we know as glare. I will address monitor placement in a future blog post but would like to focus on glare reduction first. Glare that is ignored can contribute to headaches, fatigue and other eye irritations. Reducing or eliminating glare can be a multi-step process as it can have a variety of sources and they may change due to time of day or other factors. So, it typically won’t be a one and done fix but might take a few iterations.
Obvious sources of glare are overhead lighting, bright lamps in the room or windows and skylights. Glare can be direct, coming right from a light source, or indirect, reflecting off other surfaces in the room. There are two simple ways to determine if glare is impacting your computer monitor. First, turn your monitor off and look at the dark screen. If glare is present, you will easily see it and can determine its source usually by its shape or what the reflection looks like. Next, cup your hand over your eyes like you are wearing a visor. If your eyes feel immediate relief by shielding them then you are dealing with a source of glare that is likely coming from overhead or in front of you. Again, once you have identified it, you can take steps to correct it.
Glare from windows can be managed with blinds or curtains and where possible, try to have your monitor at a 90-degree angle to a window instead of having the window directly behind or in front of you. Overhead lighting can be a little trickier to address especially if you are in an open office workspace. Try removing one or more of the bulbs or fluorescent tubes and try to place your monitor so its between lights and not directly under one. If necessary, turn off the lights and supplement with task lighting on your desk.
You can adjust your monitor as well such as adding a glare screen and tilting the bottom of the monitor up about 15 to 20 degrees. For a do-it-yourself solution a file folder can even be added to the top of the monitor to create a visor. But did you know that 90% of workers have the brightness of their monitors set too high? In most instances, when a monitor comes out of the box, the brightness level can be set from the factory at 100% which is typically too bright for most of us. You should adjust your brightness setting to about 50% to start and tweak as needed. A monitor that is excessively bright creates too much of a contrast between it and the brightness in the room. A good rule of thumb is to balance the monitor brightness with that of your workspace, so they are about even. Brightness can typically be adjusted with the buttons under your monitor or through the display settings on your computer. Also, if you use more than one monitor, try to have them be the same model or at least from the same manufacturer. Brightness levels can vary by brand and are difficult to calibrate if the brands in use are different.
Next, consider other elements in the room as sources of glare and eye discomfort. Light can reflect into our eyes from white papers on our desk or light colored and shiny surfaces. Where possible, matte finish surfaces should be specified for office furniture. Also, consider the colors you are painting your walls. It’s recommended to keep paint colors neutral and avoid primary colors such as saturated yellow, blue and red. Primary colors can cause an “after image” if you stare at them too long. That is where an image remains in your vision briefly once you have averted your eyes.
These are all high impact, low or no cost solutions to make an immediate improvement to your eye comfort which is a critical part of good ergonomics. In addition to these solutions, please check out this article I recently wrote that gives you suggestions on keeping your eyes exercised and refreshed. Combine this with proper posture and set up of your furniture and technology and you will be making huge strides towards your overall comfort and a reduced risk of fatigue and injury.