I recently discovered a post Computer Screen Glare Prevention. It confirmed my intuition that ideal lighting should emulate the dispersed light of a cloudy day (see How to reduce glare: The ideal lighting for home and office). Mr. Kelly also suggests how this effect might be achieved.
The foundation of Kelly’s post is that glare is unhealthy (for everyone, not just light sensitive people). To avoid glare, people start subconsciously working in non-ergonomic ways, which often leads to spine strain and muscle spasms in addition to vision strain and headaches, which are direct consequences of glare, that is sub ideal lighting.
Anti-glare or non-glare surfaces or filters may be the only way to cut out some glare in a world where most offices are not designed with ideal lighting for computer work. However, Mr. Kelly advocates for prevention, i.e. office lighting that minimizes glare.
Attributes of ideal lighting
- General lighting should mimic a slightly overcast day. Ideal lighting is best achieved by indirect lighting – light directed upward to bounce dispersed off the ceiling. (I was happy to read this, because my experimentation has also confirmed that it is this type of lighting feels the most comfortable).
- Indirect lighting (eliminates glare and sharp changes in contrast) may be enhanced through a combination with direct/task lighting which increases illumination on working surfaces.
- Ideal lighting for the best visual comfort requires individual control of one’s lighting.
- Sunlight is a major problem. In addition to glare it causes sudden changes in contrast and hard shadows. The best solution might be lightshelfs which turn sunlight into indirect, dispersed light by bouncing it off the ceiling. Lightshelfs also accommodate for outside view, which has been found to help morale. (More on sun glare and computer work here and here).
I have been thinking that in nature, there are very few surfaces that cause glare and reflections – only water and snow. This means that our eyes have not been designed for the glary/shiny world we live in today. Many modern man-made objects are shiny: windows, cars, tablets, smartphones, roads, floors, office desks, cabinets, magazines. These are just a few examples that come to my mind by looking around my room. It is a glary, eye straining world!
Do you think that the explosion of glossy objects in our everyday lives is likely to increase the number of people suffering from light sensitivity? Just think of the amount of time we, but particularly children and teenagers, are spending with tablets and smartphones!
Credits: overcast scenery photo from Monique via Flickr.
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