I was glancing through the weekly on a lazy Sunday afternoon, trying to stay in touch with the latest in Science and Technology, and I came across an article on Workplace Ergonomics. This was, for me, an introduction to a new science. No doubt it piqued my curiosity, and as I continued to read and browse, I realized that a lot of thought and effort was put into the design of a workplace, keeping in mind the capabilities and limitations of a worker. If a workplace design is poor, it leads to fatigued, frustrated and hurting workers. This leads to reduced productivity, and more likely it leads to painful and costly injury, and poor product quality.
COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME:
A modern office environment involves the use of the computer for even a simple, mundane task. No more can we hear the clickety-clack of typewriters and sheets of paper with carbon paper in between them for copies. Computers work noiselessly amid fierce deadlines to be met, and office employees work relentlessly at their computers to qualify in this significant global competition of success. Somehow it all catches up with each one of us someday. “Why are your eyes always red?”, I would ask my son as he returned from work every evening. His headaches every other day alarmed me until he decided to visit an ophthalmologist. Here, I was now introduced to a new term – COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME (CVS). It does not cause any permanent damage to the eye, but it causes many irritating eye problems due to the prolonged use of the computer.
- Eye discomfort
- Itchy eyes
- Dry or watering eyes
- Burning sensation
- Changes in color perception
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty in focusing
- Double vision
According to the Vision Council, nearly 70% 0f American adults experience some form of digital eye strain.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), the most frequent health complaints among computer workers are vision related. 50 – 90 % of computer users suffer from visual symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome.
A GLARING PROBLEM:
Computer Ergonomics suggests ways to optimize your computer workstation to reduce stress, discomfort and potential injury. There are many do’s and don’ts proposed to reduce CVS. The time duration of visual tasks, the height, tilt and the viewing distance of the monitor display, Lighting levels, Glare and Air quality.
Direct sources of light from a window or overhead lights cause reflected lights to bounce off the monitor – Glare. It makes images harder to see, resulting in eye strain and fatigue. A person’s ability to read information on a screen is considerably reduced, and the consequences of this range from inconvenience to disastrous, depending on how critical the task may be or the extent of the problem. A direct glare is caused when light shines directly into your eyes. An indirect glare is caused by bright light reflecting off surfaces like the smooth, glossy finish of your workstation or even the glaring daylight that falls on the computer screens and other form of visual display media like a T.V or a Home theatre.
The monitor itself is a source of light and does not require additional illumination from other sources. The screen itself can cause glare if the brightness and contrast controls are not adjusted. With too dark or too bright computer screens, our eye muscles tend to get fatigued as the eyes have to struggle to make out images on the screen. The monitor also acts as a mirror. Reflection of objects, shiny walls and any light source, especially windows and overhead lights from it causes glare. Eye discomfort can result, but glare also forces the user into an awkward position. They try to avoid the glare, which leads to aches and pains in the upper body that in turn can also aggravate eye strain.
SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEM:
- Use proper lighting. Your ambient light should be half as bright as those found in the offices.
- Arrange your office to minimize glare from overhead lights, desk lamps, and windows.
- Use blinds, shades or drapes to reduce glare. Vertical blinds work best for East/West facing windows. Horizontal blinds for North/South facing windows.
- Place the face of the displaying screen at right angles to a window and a light source.
- Position task lighting so that the light does not reflect on the screen while using paper documents and the monitor at the same time.
- Use barriers or light diffusers to reduce glare from overhead lighting.
- An anti-glare screen installed on the monitor will reduce eye strain.
- If you wear glasses, purchase lenses with anti-reflective (AR) coating. AR coating reduces glare by minimizing the amount of light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of your eyeglass lenses.
- Upgrade your Monitor from a CRT (Tube style) to an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) LCD screens are easier on the eyes as they have anti-reflective surfaces. CRT screens cause a noticeable flicker of images which is an important cause of computer eyestrain.
- Computer glasses that are different from regular reading glasses, optimize your eyesight when using a computer. They put the optimum lens power for viewing a computer screen right where you need it for a clear wide field of view without the need for excessive focusing effort or unhealthy postures.
- Have office illuminations with no glare effect like LED Downlights.
WINDOW TREATMENTS TO CUT GLARE:
Resorting to the use of the right type of window treatment in our offices also helps to cut off the glare. Controlling glare and increasing visual comfort contribute to a workers efficiency and productivity.
The 2.5 inch Wood or Faux wood blinds offered by Graber, Crown and Norman, are an excellent choice for light control. The broad slats allow light through the blinds when tilted open and can be adjusted all through the day to redirect light. With slats completely closed, they darken the room, and eliminate eye strain. The 1 inch Aluminum Blinds offered by Crown and Graber are perfect for office use. They are fire retardant, dust resistant, easy to clean, stain and scratch resistant.
Light filtering shades such as the Honeycomb and Roman shades also reduce glare. However with shades you can either raise them up completely or let them down. They do not have the benefit of adjusting the light. They block out the distractions of outside activity and are energy efficient. Graber offers the CrystalPleat range of Light Filtering and Blackout Cellular shades as well as the Single and Double Cellular shades, ideal for this purpose. The Crown range of Cordless Light Filtering and Top Down Bottom Up (TDBU) Cordless Light Filtering are also useful to cut off the glare.
Other great options are woven woods, vertical blinds, and draperies. Vertical blinds for office use complete the professional look. They associate the space with work helping in productivity. They contribute to make an excellent work environment because they do not eliminate light altogether. By keeping the natural daylight in a room and eliminating glare, they contribute to make an excellent work environment. They could be made from a wide variety of material options ranging from faux wood to the Slide-Vue Graber Light Filtering and Blackout Cellular Vertical Shades.
Solar screen window treatments cut glare on computers and media screens, increasing productivity, quality of the image, design and clerical work, without cutting off the view from the outside, especially if the beautiful scenic view outside your window can give your eyes some respite.
Conference room window treatments control glare while increasing comfort for those attending meetings and presentations. They make using personal data devices easier, allowing the workflow to continue smoothly even in a room with numerous windows.
In our high–tech world, media is part of everyday routine. Solar screen window treatments manage glare for personal screen us very well, but a group media or a large screen scenario in a conference room calls for Blackout shades. Ambient light can be too overpowering for some kind of media viewing technology and industry specific activities. Dual shades combine Blackout Shades and Solar shades in a single window to provide the answer for rooms that need both darkening and ambient light control. Their fabrics are durable, and control light in virtually any scenario. The Crown range of Solar Roller Shades, Blackout Solar Shades and Light Filtering Roller Shades suit this purpose.
Blink more and remember the 20/20/20 rule when you experience eye discomfort. After every 20 minutes look away from the computer at any object 20 feet away for 20 seconds and stretch. Let us keep eye discomfort at bay.