How to reduce glare on computer screen: Natural light but no direct sun glare
Having reduced direct sun glare from your computer screen (and workstation) you now discover new glare you hadn’t noticed before. Being subtler this glare is more difficult to detect. You might not even notice the glare itself (depending on the level of your light sensitivity) but you do feel its effects after prolonged viewing of your computer screen: eye strain, general fatigue, tension around the eyes, headaches, etc.
UPDATE: If you have a lot of control over the lighting in your computer workspace, you may want to read about the ultimate no-glare, no-reflection computer lighting.
Computer screen glare situations; Lighting: natural light only, no direct sunlight
I love natural light and prefer artificial lights to be off. Whichever the reason for this aversion (in retrospect I think this may be due to the fact that I have never had a chance to live and work in rooms with good, glare minimized, lighting) I spent many years trying to work in these lighting conditions whenever possible. So, having eliminated direct sun light from my workstation and in absence of artificial light I found the following contrasts in brightness, i.e. situations of glare:
- sunlight reflecting from the facades and windows of other nearby buildings facing my office. Glare caused by reflections from other buildings facing your office will be immediately noticed by the light sensitive. When lit by the sun facades reflect considerable amount of light since they tend to be light (in terms of color). Moreover, depending on the position of the sun, windows mirror most of its light. So more glass on adjacent buildings means more glare, the worse problem being when the whole building is covered by glass.
- changes in the daylight brightness level outside (this may happen due to changing position of the sun; due to a cloud that covers the sun for some time; or, when cloudy, there are periods that are darker and others that are brighter).
- surfaces inside the office (lighter office walls, cabinets, one’s face, clothes, etc.) reflecting off the computer screen. These reflections are more disturbing with low computer screen brightness level and darker (particularly black) background, which I use whenever possible to minimize direct glare from the computer screen itself.
How to reduce computer screen glare in the above situations
Having spent a lot of effort trying to understand how to reduce computer work related glare and reflections listed above I recommend the following solutions:
1. How to reduce glare from nearby buildings
You might consider blinds or turning on the lights, but there is a problem with each of these options. Blinds, might make the office too dark for you and more so (if you share the office) for your colleagues who are not as light sensitive. Their preferred solution might be to turn on the lights in combination with high brightness level of their computer screen, i.e. by increasing brightness to reduce glare. However, this solution is not acceptable for a light sensitive person because it increases the general level of brightness and, which is worse, because it intensifies the light emitted by the computer screen itself.
A “blinker/blinder” (term borrowed from horse tack) might be the most effective solution in blocking the glare from next-door buildings. Its advantage is that it resolves your glare problem without affecting others and without lowering brightness of the office. Following the advice of computer ergonomics your window will be at one of your sides (forming a 90 degree angle with the computer screen). You put on a blinker on that side and eliminate glare from nearby buildings completely. (The photos below might inspire ideas of how you might make a blinker). Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find such a product to be on sale – if you know of a place that sells them, please, let us know.
2. How to reduce glare from changes in daylight brightness level
You solve this problem by adjusting brightness of your computer screen. If you don’t know how take pick among these search results. Some screens adjust brightness level automatically. Mine doesn’t so I don’t know how effective they are. I imagine that if you have such a screen, changes in daylight brightness are not a problem for you. Are they?
The most difficult problem with manual brightness adjustments is that when I am focused on the work I am doing, I only take notice of the change in daylight brightness level with a lag, i.e. some time after the change has taken place, when my eyes start to feel uncomfortable. Consequently I may be working in suboptimal – glare conditions up to half an hour or more after each change. If daylight brightness level changes a lot throughout the day, this may amount to several hours in one day and result in eye strain, dry eyes, headache and general weariness. I see the only solution to this problem in a computer with the automatic brightness adjustment function. If you have any experience with one, please let me/us know how well it works.
3. How to reduce glare (reflections) from surfaces inside the office
You tend to be the closest object to your computer screen. If you can see reflections of yourself as in these photos, you should consider wearing darker clothing.
Your face and hands are a more difficult problem. You could consider wearing a dark mask hat and/or fingerless gloves if that is reasonable where you work. Alternatively you may tilt your computer screen such that your face is not reflected back into your eyes.
Ideally bright cabinets and walls that face your computer screen should be painted a darker color with a matte finish.
Do you know any other effective ways of reducing these three types of computer work related glare?
What is next:
Eventually (by coincidence) I came to the following conclusion which I will elaborate on in the future and express it in the next hint:
Hint #3 on How to reduce glare on computer screen: if you can, stabilize the brightness in your office with adequate artificial lighting.
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Pps: This post is part of the sequel How to reduce glare on computer screen:
How to reduce glare on computer screen: What is the problem? Topics covered:
- how to reduce glare in general
- the generic advice on computer ergonomics, and
- why reducing glare on a computer is such a complex task if one is light sensitive
- Hint #1 on How to reduce glare on computer screen – Glossy vs Matte
How to reduce glare on computer screen: Direct sun glare. Topics covered:
- variations of glare from direct sunlight in an office
- ways of avoiding direct sun glare
- Hint #2 on How to reduce glare on computer screen: best orientation of an office for computer work
One thought on “How to reduce glare on computer screen: Natural light, no direct sun”
Thank you for this wonderful site and writing this article. There is no such info anywhere online and is pure gold for PC users with LCD brightness/glare issues.
I spent weeks in the dark with your setup and things started to improve slowly.
Would be glad to hear an advice from you to further improve viewing comfort in front of PC. Would you advice on minimum brightness level in cd/m2 (nits) a monitor should have when brightness is lowered to 0%? There are brands like Eizo that offer non-harmful (they say) PWM flicker below 20cd/m2 all the way to zero candelas , Others like Samsung and Iiyama offer min brightness of 18-20cd/m2. Dell is moderate with 28cd/m2. Which minimum brightness level you have found health for your eyes?