We all know the importance of good posture when working on a computer. Chair comfort, back support, height and lumbar support: All are vital in reducing damage and promoting comfort. But what of eyesight?
Over the past few months I have been suffering from neck problems, stiffness and discomfort. It took me quite a time to understand that much of the stress came from working on my 27in iMac. I had carefully arranged my chair height so that my line of sight was in the middle of the large screen. But, even so, I came to realise that the problem lay with vision.
In the past I have noticed similar difficulties and at one stage experimented with raising the screen by a few inches. It didn’t work then and the iMac returned to desk level.
Over the past two or three months the problem had become acute and I decided to analyse the relationship between eye and screen. I use varifocal glasses and soon discovered that upper long-distance correction, although perfectly good for normal purposes, including watching television, caused the on-screen looking decidedly blurry. Equally, the lower reading section resulted in slight bokeh. I had been unconsciously tilting my head backwards to bring the text into sharp focus.
Searching for the spot
A visit to the optician during the week showed that nothing much in my prescription has changed in the past two years. But we did identify the particular problem. At the 68cm distance between my eye and the iMac screen neither the reading nor long-distance extremes of the variofocal lens was acceptable. My eyes had been searching for an the right spot, presumably somewhere between the two extremes, with the result that I had accumulated neck problems.
The answer is a set of computer glasses. Again, the lenses are varifocal but the long-sight ahead setting is adjusted to approximately 70cm, ideal for prolonged computer use.
I will still have the reading section at the bottom of the frame so I can switch between on-desk documents and the screen but, with luck, these new glasses should solve the long-standing neck problem. I had not previously understood the need for special glasses for computer work but my optician tells me that the demand is rising rapidly.
While waiting for the new lenses, I decided to abandon the iMac and work on my little MacBook which sits lower on the desk and has the advantage of an infinitely variable screen angle. I am able to see the screen clearly through the reading section of my standard glasses. After a week this is doing the trick and my neck is a lot better.
Yesterday I got a call from the optician to say that the new wonder glasses had arrived. The result is astounding and the 27in retina screen of the iMac has come back to life, sharp, clear and with greater contrast. Immediately I noticed that I was able to look straight ahead without tilting my neck and the comfort is much better, with no sign of obvious strain.
Most of us put up with little problems like this. The body and eyes adjusts to seek the best comfort but we are unaware of the long-term effects. I would recommend anyone who uses long-distance glasses for closer computer work (in most cases the close-vision reading lens is unsuitable for a computer screen at 70cm) to seek a pair of mid-range computer glasses. It’s a small price to pay for comfort and long-term health.
PS: Ten days later and I can confirm that these new “computer glasses” have made a huge difference and my posture has also improved as a result of not needting to struggle for a focused view. When I now wear my normal glasses I find the computer screen is quite blurry and I realise just how long I have been unconsciously compensating and causing problems.