Saturday, December 02, 2006

Don't get so close: A guide for computer work

Avoiding visual ergonomics problems in your office environment ...

"Remember when your mom told you not to sit too close to the television, because it would ruin your eyes? Well, how many hours of the day or evening do you spend sitting just a couple of feet from your computer screen?

According to a recent survey by MetaFacts Inc., a market research firm, people in the United States spent an average of 25.9 hours a week on their computers in 2005.

And it looks once again as if Mom might've had a point -- a collection of problems, called computer vision syndrome, can result from spending so much time in front of a computer monitor. (Watch how to avoid another computer-related malady, 'crackberry thumb.' )

According to Dr. Jeffrey Anshel, optometrist and author of "Visual Ergonomics in the Workplace," The American Optometric Association describes computer vision syndrome as "that complex of eye and vision complaints that people experience during or after computer use: eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches, neck and backaches."

What do neck and backaches have to do with vision? Dr. Anshel explains, "because the eyes lead the body, people will adjust their body posture to make it easier for their eyes to see. So, very often if someone has a backache or neck or shoulder problem it could be their eyes."

Headaches and dry eyes are also symptoms of computer vision syndrome. The causes can include poor lighting, glare, a desk or workstation that is not set up correctly, and even uncorrected vision problems.

... In terms of the physical environment, Dr. Anshel says, "the No. 1 problem I see in the workplace is the height of the monitor." He says that most monitors are actually too high, and recommends positioning the monitor "so that if someone is sitting in a comfortable posture, sitting back in their chair, if they're looking straight ahead they should be looking just over the top of the monitor." He also recommends that the monitor be angled back about 10 to 15 degrees."    (Continued via CNN.com)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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