In the digital world we live in, we spend a TON of time work on computers and mobile devices. Screens aren’t just part of our work life–they are how we interact with most people during the course of the workday. This isn’t a natural experience for us and it’s now how we were designed to operate, which means we must take care or we’ll inevitably run into issues with our health.
I can tell those days that have been more “screen heavy” because my head is a little fuzzy and my eyes are sore. At times, my back and shoulders are even tensed up. I’ve been experimenting with other desk setups to minimize some of these issues, but I’ll have to wait until travel/conference season is over before I get any meaningful results.
Research shows that computers and how we use them pose a variety of risks to our health, especially around posture and vision. The University of Pittsburgh says that sitting in awkward positions, staying in one position for too long and performing repetitive motions can lead to unnatural stress on the wrists, shoulders and back. Over time, fatigue and overuse can strain muscles and joints and lead to more costly health issues.
I can still remember an employee I had years ago that ended up with a nasty looking “hump” on his wrist because of his desk setup. He ended up straining the actual bone in his arm because of repetitive, incorrect posture and needed surgery to “reset” himself. It was very intense and surprising, because you wouldn’t think that simply sitting the wrong away would lead to that kind of problem.
From a visual perspective, we can see light on a variety of wavelengths, including blue light, which is similar to the light we get from the sun. If you’ve ever used a computer for a long period of time and had tired eyes afterward, blue light is most likely to blame, according to the American Academy of Opthalmology. And if you spend too much time looking at a screen that emits blue light just before you go to bed, it can interfere with your rest by tricking your brain into staying awake.
5 Suggestions for Solving the Computer Ergonomics Problem
Sitting at a computer for extended periods of time is incredibly taxing on the body and can lead to obesity and even heart issues. Solutions for computer ergonomics problems range from very simple to complex, but the bottom line is that they must be counteracted. The solutions below can help solve for various factors in the equation, such as vision strain or more physical components, but the best computer ergonomics strategy involves a variety of approaches.
- Set alarms: Instead of staring at a screen without breaks for long periods of time, set alarms every 20 or 30 minutes to remind you to look away, blink and rest your eyes briefly before returning to work.
Have you ever had eye, back, or neck issues because of computer use? What was the experience like?