Working in an office might not seem hazardous, and compared to working on a building site or taming lions it’s not exactly life threatening. However, just because the work isn’t action packed doesn’t mean there are no health risks, and in fact the more subtle problems might even be in some ways more dangerous because we don’t notice them until too late.
One of these potential risks is headache and eye strain. Working in front of a computer all day means furrowing your brow at a bright screen to read small writing, and over time this can cause headaches and even migraines; migraines are serious headaches that come with visual problems, sometimes nausea, and which can completely prevent us from working. Over time these headaches can become chronic, and you may find your vision deteriorates due to the intense focus.
This is why it’s so important to be aware of the issue so that you can take steps to prevent the problem. Here we will look at some of those steps…
Having a good monitor and putting it in the right position can right away help your eyes and head pain. The most important thing to do is to make sure that the screen is easy to focus on, as this will mean that the muscles around your eyes need to do less work.
This means that the first thing you could do is to put the monitor at a distance that is comfortable for you to look at easily. For most of us, this will be about the length of a loosely extended arm, but if you are long or short sighted you may prefer it to be closer or further. Make sure that the angle is completely square to your body, and if you can choose your own screen, try to ensure that you have a matte finish to your screen rather than a glossy one as this will reduce reflections. Otherwise, you can always ask your employer to supply you with a screen protector which should help to reduce glare further. This is important because the reflections can otherwise make it hard for us to focus.
The lighting can have an impact too. The best kind of lighting for an office is ‘flat light’. Flat light is essentially lighting that doesn’t create shadows because it is evenly distributed and this will help to prevent reflections.
Regardless of the monitor you have, there are things you can do to the settings to make it less headache-inducing. This means setting the brightness to the right level for instance, as well as increasing the size of the font/zooming in which can make it easier to read without having to squint.
Your monitor isn’t the only thing potentially causing eye pain and headaches. High stress and tension or low blood sugar can also result in headaches. Make sure that you eat a good amount of complex carbs before the start of the day to keep your blood sugar at a good level.
You should also make sure that you drink lots of water to stay hydrated (particularly if your office air is dry) and ensure that you get lots of rest and sleep.
Finally, see that you are comfortable sitting at your desk. Remember, both physical and mental tension can further exacerbate headaches.
Image by Flickr Users: allspice1.
Dr. Adam Scotts is a full-time medical writer with iHealthNet.org. He has contributed several articles including a guide to help readers with neck pain and headache.