ENDING The Glare Necessities of Life in the Workplace

By Martha Michael 

With cradle-to-grave screen time, Americans today have a growing set of health risks they didn’t have a generation or two ago. It's important to know one of those involves vision, and overuse of electronics can cause problems.

What can we do?

If your work involves a lot of computer time, your eyesight may deteriorate over time, says an article by the American Optometric Association, but impairment is usually only temporary, something employees experience after the end of a workday.

“Work that is visually and physically fatiguing may result in lowered productivity, increased error rate and reduced job satisfaction,” the article says. “Therefore, steps should be taken to reduce the potential for development of stress and related ocular and physical discomfort in the workplace.”

Viewing a computer screen is different than viewing a typewritten or printed page. How does it impact our eyes?

  • Letters aren’t sharply defined
  • Less contrast with background
  • Presence of glare and reflections on the screen
  • Distances and angles are different

The glare experienced as a result of fluorescent lighting is a widespread issue among employees. Some problems are the result of buildings constructed before they needed to function with electronics. Lighting that was designed for desk work is often the wrong angle and strength needed for long days spent on a computer. When working with paper and pen, you’re looking downward, but the line of sight for a person on a computer is typically at eye level or slightly above.

Another cause of glare is when there’s bright light in your periphery, such as lamps, fluorescent lights above and windows.

What can you do?

Change your workstation furniture or redesign your office space to reduce glare, the article suggests. It’s ideal if the design is customized for the employee, as needs vary with age. Those who are 50 and older need two times the amount of light that younger workers need, plus they sometimes suffer from presbyopia, which is muscle weakness and loss of elasticity in the lens causing farsightedness.  

The choice of light in the room needs to balance with the brightness of the individual’s computer screen. You may even need to replace windows, which are sometimes the main culprit, where glare is concerned. Alter computer placement, so employees aren’t facing sunny windows. You may get enough benefit from simply replacing window treatments.

There are products on the market aimed at glare reduction, such as computer filters for monitors. These will reduce the veil of light that’s cast on computer screens, causing excess reflection. Check for the American Optometric Association seal for merchandise with maximum visibility and optical health benefits.

The simple glare necessities may not enable you to forget about your worries and your strife. Imagine the boost in morale if your employer could do that!