When you say the term “office ergonomics,” often the first things that comes to mind are desks, chairs and keyboards. While office ergonomics as it pertains to these items is crucial, ergonomic lighting is also key, as it can help prevent the development of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), a condition that counts blurred vision, headaches, neck pain, itchy eyes, and trouble sleeping among its symptoms. In addition, poor lighting can also contribute to general malaise, low productivity and high error rates, plummeting morale and a marked reduction in mental alertness. Strangely, ergonomic lighting is often overlooked in the office, and it’s not uncommon to see someone typing away on an ergonomic keyboard at a standing desk beneath harsh, fluorescent lighting or in a room that’s far too dim. Here are a few quick ergonomic lighting interventions to keep those eyes health and those heads free of pain.
1. Don’t Go Too Dim or Too Bright
Office lighting that’s too dim will cause your employees to squint and strain to see the screen. Not only is this inefficient, but it could also lead to a deterioration in vision over time. Bright lights cause similar problems, especially as they wash out images on computer screens. Ideally, you want employees to be able to read what’s on their screens without any straining at all. For dim rooms, add supplemental table lighting to increase the brightness. For bright rooms, especially those that use fluorescent lighting, consider taking out a row or two of bulbs to take the brightness down a notch.
2. Go for a Soft Yellow Light
Lights with more yellow tones are easier on the eyes, and they also tend to mess a little less with Circadian rhythms. They’re also just more psychologically pleasing, especially as they lack the awful buzz of a fluorescent light on the fritz. Of course, there’s a reason many workplaces go fluorescent: energy savings. To address this issue, go for the newest generation incandescents. While they won’t be quite as efficient as fluorescents, they’ll certainly get you close.
3. Watch the Placement of Your Lighting
No matter what kind of light you choose, glare is always a big area of concern, especially when it comes to computer screens. That’s why it’s best to go for indirect lighting; never, ever position lights so that their light bounces off of the screen. You might also consider a glare filter for all computer screens, and glare shields for any immovable lights that are too bright.
4. Don’t Position Monitors Near Windows
Of course, screens that are near windows are also at high risk for glare. What’s more, if there is a window placed directly behind a screen, it can create a situation in which there is too high of a contrast between the brightness of the screen and that of the window, making it extremely difficult for employees to see what’s on the screen. If you can’t place screens in any other position, blinds and drapes are an essential mitigation strategy, as can be window tinting.
5. Adjust Lighting With the Time of Day
Staring at a bright screen all day can wreak serious havoc on circadian rhythms and interrupt sleep. To prevent this, install an app like f.lux on all computers to automatically brighten and dim screens throughout the day.
While all of these measures will help enormously in increasing the light ergonomics of your workplace, it’s also important to have employees adhere to the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes spent staring at the screen, stop and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to help the eye refocus and prevent eye strain.