Is your phone's screen the first thing you see in the morning? Between computers, smartphones and tablets, many people are spending extended hours in front of screens. According to a 2016 report by The Vision Council, more than 65 percent of Americans report eye strain as a consequence of this repeated usage.1 Poor lighting is a major contributing factor for eye fatigue, which can be responsible for symptoms such as dry, red eyes, blurred vision and even headaches. Learn how to optimize your office lighting so that it allows you to enjoy more comfortable workdays. Place greater attention on your eye health through adding ambient lighting and finding the best position for desk lamps.
Soothing Ambient Lighting
Ever worked late at your computer with all the office lights off? Usually, the effects aren't too pretty. Every time you glance up from the bright screen, your eyes adjust to the darkness, which can cause strain. Ambient light can address this problem by brightening your surroundings to better match your screen.
The ideal ambient light is plain old natural sunlight, so if possible, position your monitor or laptop beside a window. For the optimal setup, place your display perpendicular to the window rather than in front of it. Though positioning your display this way to capitalize on the view may be tempting, the light outdoors is usually brighter than your screen, which causes your eyes to work harder to adjust.
At night, use ambient lighting such as table lamps, floor lights or desk lamps. Softer than overhead office lighting, these light sources provide gentle illumination to brighten the room and help reduce eye strain. Look for table or desk lamps with shades made from frosted glass or fabric. These shades cast soft, diffused light, which is gentler on the eyes.
Task Lighting for Deep Focus
Lighting works best when layered. Now that your room is just right, add task lighting to illuminate your work surface. The perfect desk lamp provides enough light to focus on small details, but isn't so bright that it hurts your eyes while you're working on your tasks. For young professionals, a 60-watt bulb or equivalent 14-watt compact fluorescent light provides just the right amount, while older workers need closer to 100 watts, according to the New York Times.2 Choose a desk lamp that illuminates your entire work surface. USB LED lights that plug into computers can provide light onto a desk or on a keyboard. Tiny desk lamps may be adequate for reading a paperback, but they don't provide a wide enough pool of light for computer work or writing.
Little details add up, so fine-tune your workstation to find your own sweet spot. According to the American Optometric Association, the ideal distance between your eyes and computer screen is 20 to 28 inches, or about an arm's length away.3 Any closer to the screen and your eyes tend to blink less, causing dryness and redness. By leaning back, your vision is broader and your focus more natural, helping you to skip the eye drops.
Glare can hurt eyes as much as dim lighting, so examine your work area for reflections, especially if you have a glass display or glossy office desk. Overhead lights and pendants are major contributors, as are desk lamps with narrow, tapered shades. An improperly positioned task light can also cause glare. Look for desk lamps with adjustable arms that can be angled to cast slanting light, as opposed to light that falls directly over shiny surfaces. Position the desk lamp so that it's out of your line of sight and casts light from about 15 inches above your work surface. This position helps to diffuse and soften the light and, as a result, provides bright illumination that isn't cast directly on your face.
These changes to your current office lighting can start to pay off immediately, creating a comfortable environment and helping to reduce office fatigue. Don't forget to adjust your monitor's brightness rating, which is often set high for display purposes. The brightness should match the room's ambient lighting, with brighter levels during the day and dimmer levels at night. Even workstations with the most thoughtful lighting system can tire your eyes after a marathon session, so give your eyeballs a break by following the 20-20-20 rule. Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes by focusing on something 20 feet away.4 This encourages normal blinking and gives your eyes a chance to rest before you return to work.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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