The Effect of Office Lighting on Eye Strain, and How to Reduce the Symptoms

How to reduce eye strain in the office

Asthenopia, known colloquially as “eye strain,” is a major problem for the modern workforce that routinely spends up to 8 hours a day in front of a computer screen. It’s so bad, in fact, that it’s known as part of something called “Computer Vision Syndrome.”

It’s terrible, but thankfully there are ways to combat this or at least alleviate some of the more unpleasant effects.

What is Eye Strain?

When you concentrate on a visually intense task, such as continuously focusing on a computer monitor, the ciliary muscle – a ring of muscle inside the eye – tightens, becoming irritated and uncomfortable. Over time, serious eye strain can cause further problems from headaches to longer-term conditions such as myopia – shortsightedness.

The colour temperature of a computer monitor is known to cause eye strain to some degree, and software is available to help reduce its effect.

But the fact is, backlit monitors aren’t helping. So in an office environment (even if you’re one of the lucky ones working from home), what is there to be done?

Reducing Eye Strain in the Office

We’ve covered some general office lighting tips in our home office post, and most of them apply here, too.

The first and most important thing to do is reduce the amount of glare reaching your eyes. Glare being caused by looking directly at a light source, there’s not much to be done about the computer, but diffused or shielded light will direct it away from your eyes. Alternately, mount the light so it’s a little bit above eye level.

If you have the option, use a desk lamps to provide directed high-quality task lighting to complement the general overhead light.

And if all else fails, or you don’t have room for a desk lamp, follow the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Or close your eyes, which has a similar effect.

Just try not to let your boss see you in case they think you’ve fallen asleep.

Image by Cali2Okie (Creative Commons)

One comment

  1. I replaced 32 watt @ 3700 k with new 28 watt @ 3500 k. Half of the office employee’s said it made a huge difference! We saved power, increased maintened lumens and overall lamp life. Changing to new and improved lamps and ballasts does make a difference.

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