Thursday, May 7, 2009

Is Your Computer Monitor Causing You Pain?

There are an infinite number of ways that we can cause ourselves pain. For a chronic pain sufferer there may be more. :)

I have enough pain in my life, that I try to avoid potential migraine triggers as much as possible. It is possible that my blogging can contribute to my migraines. I find myself working from the couch with the laptop on my lap (go figure), with my wrists sore from the keying angle, and squinting because of a glare on the computer screen. I purposely bought my laptop without the glossy screen to cut down glare, but glare I have. Working from my desk after adjusting the chair, and arranging the desktop is making a huge difference in my back and shoulder pain. Now it's time to tackle the monitor setup.

Once the chair and work surface height are properly adjusted, the computer monitor should be placed so the top of the screen is at or just below eye level when seated in an upright position. This is difficult for me to do with my laptop. If it is in my lap, it's too low. If it's on the table top, it's too low. Having the monitor too low (or too high) may cause eye and neck strain.

The following suggestions can help prevent the development of eye strain, neck pain and shoulder fatigue while using your computer workstation:

  • Make sure the surface of the viewing screen is clean.
  • Adjust brightness and contrast to optimum comfort.
  • Position the monitor directly in front of you to avoid excessive twisting of the neck.
  • You must position the monitor at a comfortable viewing distance, approximately 18-30 inches from your torso.
  • Position your monitor at a right angle from windows to reduce glare. Close the window blinds or curtains as needed to reduce glare from sunlight.
  • Position your monitor away from direct lighting which creates excessive glare or use a glare filter over the monitor to reduce glare.
  • Adjust the monitor tilt so that ceiling lights do not reflect on your screen.
  • If you use a document holder, it should be placed at approximately the same height as the monitor and at the same distance from the eyes to prevent frequent eye shifts between the monitor screen and reference materials.
  • Get regular eye check-ups.
  • Adjust these height and distance guidelines as needed for larger screens. You may need to sit farther away and increase the font size to take full advantage of a larger screen.

Bifocal and trifocal wearers have to pay particular attention to the placement of their monitor. Wearers of bifocals and trifocals often unknowingly tilt their heads backwards so they can read the screen through the lower portion of their glasses. This can sometimes lead to neck, shoulder, and back discomfort. Potential solutions include either lowering the computer monitor or purchasing glasses designed specifically for working at the computer.

I hope these help you as much as they have helped me.