Sitting and looking at a monitor all day can result in dry eyes, headaches, a sore neck and back, stiff wrists and many other uncomfortable or painful outcomes. Needless to say, getting away from work is not always an option, but there are few things that can be done to lessen the side effects resulting from sitting stationary with a computer.

Eye Strain

Symptoms: Burning, watering and blurring eyes, double vision, headaches, pain

Remedies for Eye Strain

  • Avoid direct glare from ceiling lights, windows and so on. Use a monitor with anti-reflective properties.

  • Watch contrast, such as light and dark contrasts, which can strain the eyes. Lower monitor brightness if necessary. Sometimes dark letters on a white screen can strain the eyes as well, so you can turn the background color to a more neutral color and reduce strain from contrast.

  • General rule, keep your monitor as far away as possible (25in) but close enough to read easily. You can always increase magnification to 150% or use a large font, so you can sit further away.

  • Every now and then, look at something further away to change the focus of your eyes, instead of maintaining the same distance over a long period.

  • Adjust the monitor to a comfortable height.

  • Eyeglass wearers may want to consider a pair of glasses specifically for computer use. Since glasses used for driving or general use may not be the best choice for computer use.

  • Don't use a flickering, dim, small or blurry monitor. Shop monitors, to find the screen that looks best to your eyes and look for one that can easily be adjusted to a comfortable viewing angle. Most monitors can tilt, but few can be raised or lowered.

Hand and Arm Pain

Symptoms: Pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, CTD (Cumulative Trauma Disorder) and possibly myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, thoracic outlet syndrome and reflexive sympathetic dystrophy

Remedies for Hand and Arm Pain

  • Move around, don't hold a position for a long period of time-stretch, go for a walk or simply change position. If needed, you can set your computer to remind you.

  • Adjust/desk height, arms should rest neutral and not feel like they are being jammed up into the shoulders, and yet the wrists should be relaxed.

  • Prevention, there are a few illnesses that have been related to the occurrence of carpal tunnel such as diabetes, obesity, thyroid conditions, hormone conditions, such as those caused by hysterectomy or removal of both ovaries, rheumatoid arthritis, previous injuries, and other conditions. Anyone with any one of these conditions should take special care.

  • Watch wrists. If wrists are bent to the side, bent back or forward or they are constantly resting on a hard surface, make adjustments. Add a wrist pad if necessary, but not one thicker than the keyboard and look for one that your wrists can easily slide across.

  • Shop keyboards, consider a foot operated mouse if wrists are especially sensitive. There are programs that can use voice as an input device for those that cannot type at all.

  • Consider taking up Yoga or another stretching program to increase flexibility, strength and circulation.

  • Use technology. Instead of typing, use cut and paste options, automatic type, scanners or other device to input text quickly without prolonged, repetitive typing.

Overall, pain and strain prevention is about avoiding repetition. The best preventions involve variety of movement with low levels of strain. So get creative, move around, set reminders for yourself and make a goal to increase your general health to lower the chance of office related injury or stress.

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"A Dozen Things You Should Know about Eyestrain." Office Ergonomics Training. 03 Apr. 2006

Office environment & worker safety & health. (1999). Retrieved Apr. 03, 2006, from NIOSH Publications on Video Display Terminals, Third Edition Web site:

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