Simple Measures Help Alleviate “Computer Vision Syndrome”

By Staff Report

Sep. 7, 2011

Issue: Over the past several months, you have noticed a significant increase in complaints of eyestrain, which workers are attributing to computer work. You’ve heard about “computer vision syndrome,” but you’re not sure what to do about these complaints.

Answer: As many employers are finding out, “computer vision syndrome” is becoming a major concern in the workplace. Experts say that the condition, which is different from eyestrain, is primarily caused by the combination of bright interior lighting and computer monitors. The reason is simple: the overhead lighting is adding glare to an already well-lit computer screen. The good news is that you can make changes to the workplace environment that should help combat the glare problem.

  1. Check the ambient light levels. The overhead lights should be low enough to prevent glare from being generated. The optimal degree of lighting is about 300 to 500 luxes, which can be gauged using a light meter. Most buildings register at around 1000-over twice the suggested level.
  2. Use a task light. Employers should supplement the overhead light with a “task” light, a desktop light with a gooseneck for adjustments.
  3. Check the monitors. The workers should be aware that if their monitor is malfunctioning, they should have it serviced immediately. If it flickers or acts up in other ways, it could be a problem. Additionally, the contrast, font size, and other controls should be adjusted to levels that are comfortable for the worker. But as far as lighting goes, employees should not adjust the brightness on their screens to compete with the bright lighting overhead; that only makes a bad situation worse.
  4. Placement of monitor. The monitor should not be directly facing a window or light source in either direction. The best placement is 90 degrees from any light source.
  5. Glare screens and other “gizmos.” The best advice is to keep it simple. If you can adjust the environment, you don’t need these gizmos.

Cite: CCH interview with Tamara James, Duke University Ergonomist.

Source: CCH Incorporated is a leading provider of information and software for human resources, legal, accounting, health care and small business professionals. CCH offers human resource management, payroll, employment, benefits, and worker safety products and publications in print, CD, online and via the Internet. For more information and other updates on the latest HR news, check our Web site at

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion.

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