ergonomic workstationHere’s a riddle: What do your driver’s seat and your office chair have in common?

Answer: They both should guide your body into a neutral position, with your shoulders relaxed, your feet flat on the floor, and your vertebrae supported.

So says CNET’s resident how-to expert, Sharon Vaknin, in her latest article How to Set Up an Ergonomic Workstation, which details 5 effective ways to look after your ergonomic health. As well as posture, Vaknin also provides tips on positioning your screen, mouse, ergonomic keyboard and chair, and recommends a few good ways to get moving throughout the day.

1. Get a comprehensive eye exam.

A comprehensive eye exam can help to catch and prevent any computer vision related problems. According to the American Optometric Association, some of the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) are: eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain. Additionally, these symptoms can be caused by: poor lighting, glare on a digital screen, improper viewing distances, poor seating posture, and uncorrected vision problems.
If your eyes are causing you issues at work or outside of work, it may be beneficial to start looking at some treatment options or schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.

2. Use proper lighting.

Too much natural or artificial light coming from in front of or behind the computer monitor can cause the eyes to strain. Posture is also affected as users start to crane their neck in order to view the screen properly. In this case, it’s important to use a consistent lighting scheme that will allow users to view their screens without these hindrances.

3. Minimize glare.

Piggybacking on point #2, having an improper lighting set up can contribute to glare leading to visual fatigue.

4. Upgrade your display.

If your monitor is too small and causes you to squint to see what is on the screen, it may be time to upgrade to a larger display. Upgrading your display could also mean investing in a monitor arm and/or a laptop/tablet stand in order to bring your screen up to the appropriate height and distance. It’s all about modifying your displays to fit you, rather than having to adjust your body to see the monitors properly.

5. Adjust your computer display settings.

Check your display settings and adjust the screen brightness until your monitor screen is not too bright or too dark for your eyes – everyone’s preferences will be slightly different.

6. Blink more often.

When we stare at our computer screens for long periods of time, we forget to blink, which leads to dry eyes. Make it a habit to blink more and also take more frequent breaks to give your eyes a rest.

7. Exercise your eyes.

If you follow ergonomics, I’m sure you’ve heard of the 20-20-20 rule, which means for every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, take a break and look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If the eyes are glued to a screen for a long time, this technique helps the eyes refocus so both near- and far-sighted vision can be practiced throughout the day.

8. Take frequent breaks.

Try to take a 10-minute break at least every hour. This is good not only for the eyes, but also for the entire body. Prolonged focus on a single task leads to visual fatigue, and prolonged sitting is linked to many health problems.

9. Modify your workstation.

Modifying your workstation can help to increase productivity and overall comfort. Take a few minutes to assess if your workstation is compliant with OSHA’s Computer Workstation Checklist.

10. Consider computer eyewear.

The yellow tint of computer glasses helps to counteract the blue light computers emit. A good reputable brand to try is Gunnar Glasses.

Some of these tips may be surprising—did you know, for instance, that you shouldn’t use those little legs on your keyboard? Turns out, doing so means a quick route to carpal tunnel. We highly recommend the article as a quick and easy way to jumpstart your ergonomic habits, starting with your ergonomic workstation.

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