Visual Wellness in the Workplace: A Prescription for Proper Home Office Ergonomics

by Daniel Smith, O.D.

In the realm of visual health, the significance of proper workplace ergonomics cannot be overstated. Technological advancement, especially in cloud computing, has led to many industries adopting remote work. Modern professionals spend a significant portion of their waking hours in a home office setting, immersed in the glow of computer screens, navigating mountains of paperwork, and engaging in endless digital tasks. Constant interaction with screens in a converted or unoptimized home space can be taxing on the visual system, leading to significant eyestrain, discomfort, or loss of productivity. However, with a thoughtful approach to home office ergonomics, we can create a workspace that promotes productivity and nurtures our eyes’ well-being.

The starting point of ergonomic design is arguably the chair. A well-adjusted chair not only supports your back and neck but helps position the eyes at an optimal height relative to the computer monitor, mouse, and keyboard. For those who wear progressive spectacle lenses, proper head and body posture are vital to ensuring that the proper portion of the lens is being utilized for different visual tasks. A hunched posture from a maladjusted chair will push the glasses’ near power further down in the visual field, reducing their effectiveness and straining the eyes. The goal should be an upright, neutral posture with the feet resting comfortably on the ground and the thighs parallel to the floor.

When positioning the computer monitor, the top of the screen should be at or just below eye level, so that the center of the screen is in slight downgaze. For most users, about an arm’s length is the ideal distance, however larger monitors may benefit from a slightly longer working distance. Care should be taken to position lamps and other light sources to eliminate glare and reflections on the screen, and the ambient workspace illumination should roughly match the screen’s brightness.

The most critical ergonomic consideration is the type of glasses used. Progressive lenses excel at versatility and are the modern standard for general use, but there may be better tools for extended computer use. Because progressives are built with varying powers in different sections of the lens, the portion optimized for computer use may be smaller than ideal. This results in unnecessary head movement and tilting, fishing for the “sweet spot” in the lens. For those who use multiple or oversized computer monitors, having a pair of dedicated computer glasses is a fantastic idea. Computer glasses are single-vision, meaning the entire lens area is ideal for computer distance. This eliminates the guesswork and excessive head movement, making extended computer work less fatiguing. These lenses are commonly equipped with specialized coatings and filters to further improve eye comfort with digital device use. Anti-reflective coatings help to minimize bothersome screen glare. Blue light protective coatings selectively filter certain wavelengths that are emitted from digital devices that contribute to eye fatigue.

Every person’s eyes and visual demands are unique, and there is no universal formula for ergonomic perfection. It is important to discuss your specific needs with your eye care provider to determine what will work best for you.

Dr. Daniel Smith is a board-certified optometrist who sees patients at the Clermont location for Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida. He specializes in primary care optometry and contact lenses.

This column is sponsored by Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFHN or of its advertisers.

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