Healthy Computing: Optimal Distance

Do you almost touch the screen with your nose to see the text? Does it
feel as if your arms have shrunk as you have gotten older, that you hold
your reading material further away, that restaurants are using a smaller
font for menus, and that you read better with brighter lights? Struggling
with vision may contribute to tired eyes and neck and shoulder tension,
especially after a long day at the computer. Improve your vision and
reduce neck and shoulder tension when the text is at OPTIMAL DISTANCE.


The optimal distance between your monitor and your eyes depends on the
monitor screen size, screen quality and size of the fonts used as well as
your own vision. The recommend distance between the monitor and your eyes
is 20 to 30 inches. This is significantly further than the 12 to 15
inches commonly recommended for reading. In addition, be sure that the top
of the monitor is no higher than you eyebrows and that it is located at 90
degrees from major light sources.

If you have difficultly seeing, have your vision checked to see how well
your eyes can accommodate in the range for your computer work. Have a
coworker actually measure the distance from your eyes to your work surface
when you are comfortably working. Measure and record the distance between
your eyes and:

  • Monitor ________ inches
  • Keyboard ________ inches
  • Work surface _________inches

Bring these measurements to an optometrist or ophthalmologist when you get
a vision examination.

If computer glasses are recommended–they should be different from your
reading glasses–request that the middle distance of the glasses be in
the focal length of the computer and that it be the major width of the
lens. A wide lens area for the correct distance to look at the screen
allows you to move your eyes, head, neck and shoulders while the screen
remains in focus; a narrow lens area constrains you to hold your head in
static tension.

Remember to blink and look at distant objects frequently so that your eyes
can relax.

*Adapted from Peper, E. & Gibney, K. H. (2000). Healthy Computing with
Muscle Biofeedback. Woerden: Biofeedback Foundation of Europe.

Copyright 2003 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney
Permission to copy and distribute Healthy Computing Email Tips for
personal use is granted. Distribution or copying of Healthy Computing
Email Tips for commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written
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