Safety and OSHA News

Ergonomics: Are you squinting when you read this?

The press release said, “Feel like you’re getting old simply because you squint to see the small print on your computer screen?” Yep, that’s me, I said to myself.

The good news: Two new ISO International Standards will help make products, signs and displays more accessible to older people and those with disabilities.

One new standard, Specification of age-related luminance contrast for colored light, specifies a method of calculation that can be applied to the design of visual signs and displays so that they are clearly visible to older people. A second standard addresses auditory signal design.

So those of us with so-called “over-40 vision” can look forward to the day when product designers take our vision needs into consideration.

But let’s get back to squinting at computer monitors. It can cause eyestrain. How can you prevent that?

The Mayo Clinic has some tips:

  • Adjust your monitor. Position your monitor directly in front of you at least 20 inches from your eyes. If you find yourself moving closer than that to the monitor to read small type, consider increasing the font size.
  • Check the lighting and reduce glare. Sit at your computer with the monitor off. This allows you to see reflected light and images. Note any intense glare. The worst sources are usually above or behind you, including fluorescent lighting and sunlight. Then, place your monitor so that the brightest light sources are off to the side, at a right angle to your monitor. Consider turning off some overhead lights. Use a glare-reducing screen to minimize glare from overhead lighting.
  • Keep your monitor clean. Dust on the screen cuts down on contrast and may contribute to glare and reflection problems.
  • Keep reference materials nearby. Place reading material on a document stand beside your monitor at the same level and distance from your eyes.
  • Take eye breaks. Follow the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
  • Blink often to refresh your eyes. Consider artificial teardrops to prevent and relieve dry eyes that result from prolonged sessions at the computer.

And my favorite tool these days: on PCs, Ctrl and the plus (+) key will increase the size of what you’re looking at on a website. For Macs, it’s Apple (+).

What do you do to prevent eyestrain for computer users at your company? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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