The computer is an indispensable tool of the modern economy and occupies pride of place in most offices today. With the average time spent daily on a computer ranging from 4 to 7 hours, it is imperative that people understand the importance of the proper ergonomic placement of the monitor. Improper placement of the monitor can lead to excessive strain on the eyes of the user apart from causing fatigue and pain in the neck and shoulders.
The important factors to consider while deciding the placement of the monitor are:
The Distance From The Monitor
Monitors should neither be too close not too far. If the monitor is placed too far from the eyes then reading small text will strain the eyes. If the monitor is too close, then the eyes will have a problem focusing. While the distance to the monitor will vary for each user, research indicates that the ideal distance ranges between 20 and 40 inches.
A monitor placed at arm’s length with the arm being bent slightly at the elbows will do quite well for most users. At any rate, the distance between the monitor and the eyes should never be less than 20 inches.
The Position And Viewing Angle
The monitor should be placed directly in front of the user so that the head, neck and shoulders are facing forward when the user is viewing the screen. This is because working with one’s head and neck turned tires the muscles in the neck and causes discomfort and pain. The monitor should also be tilted back i.e. the top of the monitor should be slightly further away from the eyes than the base.
While it was earlier believed that the monitor should be at or below eye level, opinion is now shifting to the view that the monitor should always be at an angle that is anywhere from 15’ to 50’ below the horizontal line of sight. This is because looking down at a monitor allows users to assume a greater range of postures thus allowing them to rest groups of muscles by changing postures. Thus, when the muscles begin to tire because the user has been sitting in a particular posture for long, the user can rest the muscles by simply changing her posture.
The Ambient Light
The light in the work area and around the monitor should not be very bright because this can create a glare. Ideally, the lights should be overhead so that the incidence of light rays on the monitor is at an angle. This will help reduce the reflection of light from the monitor which in turn will lead to lower fatigue for the eyes of the user. Where there are windows, the monitor should ideally be placed at right angles to the windows or facing away from them. Wherever possible, glare filters should be used on monitors. At no point should the monitor be tilted downwards to reduce the glare from the screen.
The Brightness Of The Screen And The Colors On It
The brightness and the contrast of the screen should be adjusted to provide the user with the greatest viewing comfort. A very bright screen will cause the eyes of the user to tire very quickly.
Dark colors on a white background are the easiest to read since the white background reduces the difference in brightness between the screen and the rest of the office.
It is important to mention this last factor even though it is not related to the placement of the monitor. Viewing a monitor for long periods of time causes eye fatigue and no amount of changing the position of the monitor will alleviate this. The only way to manage this is to rest one’s eyes periodically. This can be done by looking away from the screen and blinking at regular intervals. Looking at distant objects is a very good way of relaxing one’s eyes. Another excellent way of relaxing one’s eyes is to alternate work on the computer with other non-computer related work.