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Disclaimer: The entries you find in these pages are based on my individual opinions and thoughts. Some of the entries may be just plain wrong, and others harmful. Should you choose to act on, or try, anything you find on this site, you assume any and all risks associated with your actions. So there.



 


Sit Better, See Better

January 7, 2009

I often hear complaints about neck, shoulder and back pain from my clients. Typically, they will have a very large computer display that is sitting on top of a stack of books or some item on their desk -- with the center (top to bottom) of their display even with their eyes. This is trouble. My advice is: the top of your display, not the center, should be level with your eyes, so that you are slightly looking down as you use your computer. If you have to look straight ahead, or worse, up, to see your menu bar, you will have constant neck and shoulder tension, which could result in long-term neck and back issues.

Don't take my word for it, here is a great tool to figure out how you should setup your workstation:

Ergonomic Workstation Planner from Ergotron.

This is not an endorsement of their products, and I really do not know much about this company. However, on first site of this tool I instantly recognized it as fitting within everything I have learned about ergonomics in my 20+ years of computer consulting.

Clients also complain about difficulties seeing their displays, or blurry vision after extended use. My advice to those using computer screens for long periods of time is to take hourly breaks where you stare off into the distance. Your eyes were not designed to remain focused at short distances for long periods of time. Just like trying to hold your arm out straight without moving it, keeping your eyes focused at the same distance causes tremendous fatigue. This results in eye strain and blurred vision, and can even cause harmful long term effects.

In addition to taking breaks once each hour, where you focus your eyes well beyond 10 feet or more, computer glasses are a great option. Reading glasses DO NOT substitute for computer glasses. Reading glasses are designed for reading books you are holding, which is a distance of about 18". Most computer displays are just outside of this boundary at 20" to 30" away -- some farther. The result of using reading glasses (and, yes, bifocals) is that you cause minor strain on your eyes in the opposite direction you are trying to correct.

Computer glasses are designed for use in the intermediate zone of vision -- right where your computer display is. It is a good idea to measure the distance first, so that your doctor can make the prescription for the right range of distance. Again, don't take just my word for it, here is a site that discusses this issue:

Computer Glasses for [correction of] Blurred Vision.

Again, I don't know this company, nor endorse them or their products. Their information falls within what I have learned over the years, and know to be true.