Keep an eye on your monitor – These four measures will help to avoid stinging and strained eyes

Our eyes are highly complex and precious. They are also sensitive and vulnerable. So caution is the watchword, especially when working at the computer. It is worth investing five minutes to focus on your workstation. If the brightness of your computer display and office lighting are correctly adjusted, the health-related side effects of tired eyes can be avoided.

Stinging or red eyes, tiredness and headaches – these are often symptoms suffered by people who work at a computer. They can be traced back to eye strain, for example from poor lighting conditions. In the hustle and bustle of daily life at the office one often forgets that a short break, a quick glance out of the window can take the strain off the eyes and work wonders.

During office planning and when setting up one’s own workstation, the needs of the eyes should be taken into consideration. You will find a collection of helpful tips here to combat the causes of tired eyes:

1/ Individually adjustable lighting

Our pupils work like the aperture of a camera. They open up when there is little light, allowing more light to enter. And they contract when there is a great deal of light. Our light requirements are individual and also change with age. From around the age of 45, one needs more light than in one’s earlier years.

This can lead to conflict in offices with people of varying ages. For some the light is too bright, for others too dark. Individually adjustable workstation lighting is the answer here. In addition, the brightness of the computer screen can be adjusted manually.

How is your workstation set up?

In addition to lighting, the interior climate, soundproofing and escape routes are important in order to achieve a safe and healthy working environment. To find out what is needed, check out the chapter on «Office planning» in the FCOS Box.

2/ Check on the brightness ratio of your monitor and the surrounding area

When setting up the office, ensure that the area nearest the workstation is no more than three times darker or lighter than the monitor. This is why sparkling white tables are normally too bright for a workstation, while black is too dark. Reflective surfaces should also be avoided as they lead to unpleasant glare.

The ratio contrast when looking further should be 1:10. That means, if one looks up from the monitor and looks out onto the room or out of the window, this area should not be more than 10 times brighter than the computer screen. Differences in brightness that are too extreme put strain on the pupil. The white vertical blinds that one often sees in offices are actually not particularly suitable for computer workstations as when the light from outside is very bright, they pass on too much light.

3/ Glasses for work at the computer

When one looks up from the computer screen to look out of the window, the second important function of the eye is called into action: focussing. This is achieved thanks to the lens that lies behind the pupil. Age also plays a role here, as the elasticity of the lens decreases with age. The older we get, the more difficult it becomes to focus. People who wear glasses with progressive lenses know the problem. As the near-vision area is located in the lower part of the lens, they need to tilt back their head when working at the computer. This can result in tension and pain in the neck, back and head. There is help in the form of glasses especially for working at the computer with an extended near-vision area. These can be prescribed by an optician to fulfil individual needs.

4/ Ergonomic line of sight

Having the monitor set up correctly also has an influence of health and the muscles in our neck and back. Many people are unaware of the fact that the natural line of sight is not straight ahead, at the height of the eyes, but is directed slightly downwards. This position takes pressure off the neck muscles, which are considerably more relaxed than when the line of sight is straight ahead or upwards. By projecting the line of sight slightly downwards, one is able to prevent tension in the neck and shoulders as well as headaches.

A quick look at your monitor will tell you immediately if it is positioned correctly. It should be a full arm’s length away from the head and the upper edge should be a hand’s width below eye level.

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In the seven chapters of the FCOS Box and a series of short video clips, you will find out how to improve health and safety at the office and what needs to be taken into consideration.

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FCOS Checkbox

With the FCOS Checkbox apps you can identify safety risks in the office or check to see if your workstation is set up ergonomically.

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FCOS Learning Modules

Easily accessible and entertaining, they will help you check and consolidate your knowledge of the basics in safety and health protection at work.

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