Monitor Position & Ergonomic Tips

Monitor Position & Ergonomic Tips

The position of the monitor can impact on your comfort while working on a computer. If you are experiencing neck, shoulder or back pain, or if you have eye strain or tension headaches, the following tips may help relieve computer-related discomfort.

  • Center the monitor in front of the keyboard so that you are facing it directly.
  • The area of the screen at which most work is accomplished should be about 15 to 20 degrees below eye level. A screen that is too high or too low will cause awkward positioning of the head, neck, shoulders and back.
    • Try this exercise – Hold a newspaper in front of you. Read the print at eye level. Now slightly lower the paper. You will find that the eyes feel more relaxed if you are reading at a slightly downward angle.
  • Tilt your monitor upward so that the base is slightly closer to you. This improves legibility of print and reduces eye strain.
    • Try this exercise – Hold a business card in front of you. Slightly rotate the top of the card away from you. You will find that the eyes feel more comfortable reading the text positioned at a slight angle.
  • Install the monitor on a swivel arm so you can easily make small adjustments in height and distance throughout the day.

  • Adjust the brightness of the screen so that it is equal to the area directly behind it.
  • Sit about an arm’s length away for a standard size monitor. Larger monitors should be placed farther away.
    • Sitting too close causes eye strain as the eyes try to converge on the text and causes awkward positioning from leaning back to get away from the screen.
    • Sitting too far can cause awkward positioning from leaning forward and eye fatigue from straining to see small print.
  • Adjust the font size and color to improve ease of reading and prevent eye strain. Black text on a white background is usually the easiest to read.
  • Purchase glasses that are prescribed specifically for computer use. Using bifocals causes awkward neck positioning when bifocal users try to view the monitor through the bottom portion of the lens. If you do need to wear bifocals at the computer, lower the screen below the recommended height for non bi-focal users.
  • Clean the screen of dust to improve image quality.
  • Be aware of other factors that may distort image quality causing eye strain such as electromagnetic fields caused by electrical equipment located close to the computer.
  • Follow the 20/20/20 rule. Take a twenty second break every 20 minutes and look 20 feet away.

  • Position the monitor perpendicular to windows to reduce glare from windows behind or in front of it.
  • Close curtains or blinds as necessary to reduce glare on the screens.
  • Adjust the tilt of the screen so that the base is slightly closer than the top of the monitor. This will reduce glare. If the monitor tilts too much, however, you may begin to notice glare from overhead lights.
  • Use an anti-glare screen.
Marji Hajic is an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist practicing in Santa Barbara, California. For more information on hand and upper extremity injuries, prevention and recovery, visit Hand Health Resources.


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