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The Ergonomics of Office Lighting

This has been found to contribute to stiff necks and aching shoulders, especially when done over a period of time..

Computers cause challenging problems for lighting designers. For starters, it's important that the monitor's contrast and brightness be adjusted properly as not to cause eye fatigue. Also, the placement of the monitor is important. The eye can adapt to a very wide range of light levels, but it can only adapt to one light level at one time. When one looks at a bright computer monitor on a dark background, the eye doesn't know which one to adapt to - the bright monitor or the dark background. When this happens day after day, fatigue sets in. To lessen eyestrain lower the brightness on the monitor and/or increase the light in the surrounding area.

Shiny walls, windows and other light sources can all reflect off your monitor causing glare. This can cause eye discomfort, and the glare can also force the user into awkward positions as they try to avoid the glare. These positions lead to aches and pains in the upper body that can also aggravate eye strain.

A good lighting design uses layers of light for the most efficient and aesthetically pleasing effect. The two basic layers needed are: task and ambient lighting. Accent light can also be used, but is optional. To learn more see "4 Types of Lighting".

Although the recommended light level for offices is 350-750 lux, this is not a set rule. With adequate task lighting, the overhead (ambient) lighting can be lowered.

Florescent lights are usually used intensively in offices. The long life, great color qualities, and high efficiency make them a good choice.

For task lighting you can use either fluorescent recessed or surface mounted down lights over the task areas, or under cabinets or shelves. Be sure not to locate a task light directly in front of the work area, as reflections can bounce directly in your eyes. Accent light can then be used to finish off the room with a little style.

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