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Which Office Lighting Options Are Best for Reducing Eye Strain?

After a long day, we’ve all felt it: squinting with sore, dry, or itching eyes. Or worse, headaches, a sore neck, and fatigue from hours in front of a computer screen or in a bleak, fluorescent-lit office space. Eye strain might be common these days, but it fortunately isn’t inevitable. There are a few easy steps you can take to ensure that at the end of the day, you’re feeling focused and clear.

Remember that eye strain symptoms are your body’s way of indicating that something is wrong, particularly with the environment (and light) around your eyes. That’s right, bad lighting can actually harm your health. Correcting your workplace lighting at your desk, whether in an office or at home, can drastically lessen eye strain. Let’s explore LED desk lighting and natural light (our favorite energy-saving light source) and how they’ll reduce eye strain during long workdays.


Understanding Office Lighting’s Effect on Eye Strain

Users of digital devices, and let’s face it, that’s most of us, typically experience blurred vision, headaches, and dry eyes. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is more than an irritation. When we view digital screens, we tend to blink less, have less than-ideal viewing angles and distances, and often contend with poor contrast, reflections, and glare. Add that to over-lit or poorly designed environments and headaches and fatigue are almost inevitable. While eyestrain can be temporary, it can also exacerbate other underlying problems and lead to longer-term issues.


The Dreaded Fluorescent Light

Before LED lighting, fluorescent lighting was the energy-efficient go-to for office lighting design. But while it provided inexpensive and long-lasting light, it became notorious for its flicker and sickly greenish cast. Newer versions provided a more appealing light, but the overall intensity and glare, coupled with reflections off of surfaces and blue-tinted high-contrast digital screens combined to create circumstances that aren’t at all good for your vision. It’s the visual version of listening to loud music all day long. While crisper, whiter light helps with energy and attention, going too far with cool-white or “daylight” bulbs will rapidly lead to eye exhaustion.


Balance Office Lighting with Natural Light

Abundant natural light helps reduce eye strain and makes a workplace appealing. There is always the possibility of too much of a good thing, however, with excessive reflections and glare that too much light can bring. The key is daytime window shade management. Start by watching when and where sunlight penetrates your work area and adjust your blinds accordingly.

Southern-facing windows typically provide the brightest, all-day natural light, while western windows require shading due to the punishing heat and glare from direct late afternoon sun exposure. Adjusting shade levels will reduce glare and keep workers comfortable during peak sunshine hours. Brightening artificial light levels, particularly with task lighting during intense sunlight, will help avoid excessive contrast that can strain delicate eyes.


Add in Variety to Allow Your Eyes to Rest

While you’re unlikely to be able to avoid a computer screen, consider adding softer, ambient light and task-specific desk lights with lower-color temperature LED bulbs that release fewer blue spectrum rays. According to the Vision Council, these LED lights can lessen eye strain while providing focused task illumination. Since most have dimmers, you can easily adjust brightness throughout the day for your requirements and comfort. Perfect lighting doesn’t mean dazzling white light pelting you—balance matters.

Remember the popular workplace lighting myth is that brighter is better. Our bodies are used to varied light and shadow, so overlighting a space is a surefire way to induce glare-induced eyestrain. Focus more light on areas where attention is needed, and reduce lighting levels in other areas to provide areas of visual relief.

In home offices, mix in floor lamps and small accent lighting to provide warm, varied light rather than relying solely on full-intensity recessed lights. Using new “warm-dim” LED bulbs and fixtures will allow you to adjust your lighting throughout the day, with whiter bright light setting providing energy and focus, and dimmer, more golden light providing moments to catch your breath and relax before the next task.


Looking to create a healthier work environment in the office or at home? The Dominion Lighting team brings you insight and access to over 300 manufacturers to bring the right, comfortable lighting design for your working space!
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