We’re all familiar with the day-to-day dangers of working in an office. These include back and neck pain from incorrectly positioned desks and chairs, cramps and stiffness, along with the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
However, there’s another danger you may need to think about: the strain that poor lighting can have on your eyesight. This can further coincide with muscular and postural strain.
All in all, it’s vital to make sure you have proper lighting while working. But how can you tell if you’re suffering from eye strain? And what steps can you take to fix the problem?
Let’s take a look at these office lighting tips to find out.
Signs of Eye Strain Due to Improper Lighting
If you’re straining your eyes, you might suffer from dry eyes, blurry vision, eye fatigue, itching, irritation, and more. It can contribute to headaches, irritability, and poor sleep – not ideal.
This is due to the levels of “blue light.” This is a type of light that travels deep into the eye and is emitted by digital screens. If you spend all day focused on a computer screen, you may develop eye strain over time.
It’s important to take immediate steps to protect your eyesight. You can do this by altering the levels of light around you and reduce the amount of blue light you absorb daily.
If your sleep quality is suffering, try not to use any screens for over an hour before bed. And yes, this means no scrolling through your phone in bed! This can give your eyes and brain a chance to relax and get ready for sleep.
Now, what exactly can you do to reduce eye strain and other aches and pains?
Tips to Reduce Strain
1. Adjust the Screen Brightness
The first thing to do is to adjust the brightness on your screen. There’ll be a setting you can alter to dim the glare, as well as alter text type and font size.
Why is this last part important? Well, too-small text or font that is difficult to read will lead to you squinting, maybe even hunching forward to bring yourself closer to the screen. Over time, this can become a habit. It can accentuate your eyestrain and bad posture, which may lead to back and neck pain.
It’s also good to keep your computer screen free of dust and smudges, as this may also contribute to your needing to squint.
2. Position Your Computer Correctly
If your desk is close to a window, you’ll need to consider how the glare affects your screen. A window shining its light directly on your screen from behind can make it difficult to see.
However, a window placed directly in front of you is just as bad; the light will shine straight in your eyes, making it just as equally difficult to see your screen.
Ideally, try and keep your screens away from a window. Of course, this isn’t always practical. At the very least, sit parallel to the window, so the sunshine is by your side.
As the day wears on, the light will change. You may need to close the blinds altogether at certain times of the day. As soon as you notice any sign that you’re leaning forward or squinting at your screen, you’ll know it’s time to adjust!
3. Limit Fluorescent Lighting
Unfortunately, fluorescent lighting is the go-to lighting for many workspaces. If you can, limit the amount of this kind of lighting, replacing it with softer, more natural light.
You may feel that there’s little you can do about annoying fluorescent lighting. But if possible, ask your employer if you can have the lights around you dimmed or turned down. Then, replace the harsh light with desk lamps. We realize this isn’t also the most viable solution, so simply do your best here.
4. Take Regular Breaks
No amount of workarounds can replace the benefit of an old-fashioned break. Give your eyes a rest frequently.
This can be tricky. You’re at work, and you have tasks to accomplish. But hours of focusing on a screen will take its toll. To keep your eyes fresh and healthy, focus on something other than a computer screen every twenty minutes or so. This is called the 20-20-20 rule, where you focus on an object twenty feet away for twenty seconds, then you can look back at your computer screen.
It’s a simple exercise that takes less than half a minute, so no excuses allowed. You’ve got the time!
Even so, this exercise doesn’t erase the need for regular and full breaks far away from your computer screen. Your workplace should allow for you to take these breaks or you should actively seek them out yourself. Grab that glass of water or go for a quick stroll around the office. These breaks can actually even boost productivity, so they are entirely worthwhile to make time for.
5. Use Alternative Light Sources
We’ve already touched on this in the fluorescent lighting section, but there’s more to consider.
Since many of us are working from home as of late, you can alter your workspace to suit yourself and your needs. So, what should you consider?
- Natural light
There’s really no substitute for natural light. It’s good for eye health and is the best choice to illuminate your workspace. However, you probably won’t be able to use natural light all day long, all year round. You should also make sure that sunlight isn’t glaring onto your screen, as that can be very harmful for your eyes.
- Ambient lighting
This involves lighting up the whole room, instead of directing harsh light straight onto your workspace. Ambient, or general lighting, should be soft and non-intrusive.
- Use a desk lamp
This is a good way of illuminating your immediate workspace. Be sure not to direct the light right on your screen. Direct it towards your keyboard or papers to avoid any glare.
Set Yourself Up For Success!
Proper lighting in the workspace can easily be overlooked. After all, if you’re focused on work, squinting, leaning forward, and straining your eyes can quickly become a habit. You may not even notice that your eyes are sore after work. This is a tell-tale sign that something needs to change!
In this digital age, it’s unrealistic to think that we can get away from screens altogether. We work on a computer screen, use our mobile phone screens daily, and many of us watch TV to relax. Focusing on a screen often seems like second nature.
However, neglecting your eyesight can have consequences down the road. You may end up having to spend more on glasses or contact lenses to compensate for something that could’ve been prevented.
The main lesson here: Don’t neglect your eyesight. Watching all these screens will take a toll, and it can be difficult to create the perfect conditions to avoid eyestrain. Take breaks, and make sure your eyes get natural light.