At work, overly bright overhead lighting may be the source of your problem. Too many lamps or too many fluorescent bulbs may add to glare. An inexpensive dimmer switch can help control the amount of light. Using soft blue-white fluorescent bulbs also helps tone down the brightness.
As a general rule, reducing the number of reflecting surfaces makes your work environment much easier to tolerate. Blinds for windows, non-glare glass, especially for partition walls, and flat paint finishes all help. You can often soften background surfaces that are bright by using softly coloured yellow or orange posters. Avoid excessive use of mirrors, chrome and white laminates for desks and counter tops. Dark desktop covers can be purchased at office supply stores in brown, grey or black. These dim the brightness from books and paper products.
Set up your computer properly. If there is a choice, do not put the computer next to the windows, or look at the computer with a window in your line of vision. A computer with a non-glare screen and a commercial anti-reflection coating also helps. You can improve contrast by using a color combination such as green print on a brown background. Use a type size that can be read easily.
Once your computer is set up, check your line of vision. It should be perpendicular to the screen. Ensure that your chair and computer set-up is ergonomically right for your body height and posture. This reduces the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome in your wrists, and a sore neck and back by the end of the workday.
If brightness still bothers you, consider wearing a light to medium tinted spectacle to reduce glare. These can be purchased at any optical shop or drugstore and are not expensive. Do a mirror test toward the end of your workday. Look at yourself using a hand mirror to see if you are squinting your eyes or frowning your forehead and eyebrows. Contracting the muscles of your face to avoid brightness can cause headaches.
If you wear glasses to correct your vision, consider buying a pair for work and one for general wear. Choose a light to medium tint for your work glasses. Don’t pick the smallest frame on the rack either. Larger frames cut down glare, especially indirect glare from the bottom or sides.
If you need bifocals, a larger lens allows room for the reading correction to fit in the glasses and make reading easier. With a smaller lens, you are forced to move your chin up and down searching for the sharpest vision. As a result you are more likely to shift your posture and have a sore neck by day’s end.
If you spend a lot of time working on a computer and are over the age of 50, a computer bifocal or an occupational trifocal may ease the strain on your eyes. Don’t feel that this problem is yours alone. Most people over the age of 50 need a special pair of glasses either for work or for special hobbies. Better vision means higher productivity and possibly fewer headaches.
The same principles for reducing glare in the work place also apply to a child’s study environment and for those who work at home. Do your children do homework at the kitchen table surrounded by large, bright windows and work on a surface that is white or a brightly coloured? If so, consider setting up a study area with good, indirect light in a quiet area of the house. A good place to do home work usually results in fewer distractions and stress, less fatigue with studying, and better marks.
Absolutely! Dry eyes and eye allergies are at the top of the list, especially if you live in the dry, desert climate of the prairies. Dry eyes can also be caused by a thyroid gland that is not working properly, by virtually all types of arthritis and by a host of medications including antidepressants and antihistamines.
Dryness of the eyes causes a burning, gritty, scratchy, foreign body sensation. Allergy symptoms, on the other hand, include itchy, watery eyes, a stuffy nose, a post-nasal drip, chronic sinusitis, and asthma. Most people with allergies are photosensitive. A visit to the allergist is the place to start.
Sometimes simple measures, such as a vaporizer by the desk or controlling dust mites at home, can make a big difference to dry or allergic eyes.
Yes. As a general rule, those with fair hair or skin and blue eyes are more likely to be photosensitive. If your child is in this category, using glasses with a tinted lens in the classroom may help. Often schools are filled with bright, cheerful reflecting surfaces.
If you are over 50 and are bothered by brightness and dazzle, or your vision changes with various changes in lighting, you may have the start of a cataract. (A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye.) Book a check up with your ophthalmologist.
Finally, some people find that brightness triggers severe incapacitating classical migraine headaches. Many of these people find that a trip to a bright, chrome-laden shopping mall will trigger a severe headache. Stress, fatigue, brightness, caffeine and nicotine products are the most common triggers of migraines. For this group, glare control and a good pair of wrap-around aviation style sunglasses may make a huge difference, drastically reducing the number of pain killers needed and improving quality of life.
The same general rules apply for effective sunglasses, especially if glare comes from snow, highways and lakes. Fashion is fine, but if you are bothered by brightness, use a nice wrap-around frame that sits close to your cheeks and eyebrows. Remember, glare strikes your eyes from all different angles. Wearing a sunglass with a UV block slows cataract formation and protects the retina at the back of the eye.
And since most of our sun exposure occurs before the age of 20, use sunglasses and hats with wide brims on your kids – they will be glad you did.