Lighting Tips for Reducing Eye Strain
Overhead lighting worked well in offices when we were only using paper and pens. Now that most of our time is spent on the computer and a vertical surface and angle, that same lighting can be ineffective - resulting in glare, eye strain and headaches.
With the computer screen our eyes are working to balance the light from the screen with the light behind. If you are in a cubicle and have a wall behind your screen that is dark, or a window that has daylight, our eyes are constantly trying to make sense of these differing light levels. The strain of these lighting variations can cause headaches and other issues.
Task lamps can help ease eye strain, especially in cubicles. They help to provide balance in the incoming light. I have an LED task lamp with 3 light levels and 3 different light colors which can easily adjust to personal preferences. The other benefit of a task lamp is that the light can be positioned. The LED bulb is on an arm and can swing so it can be positioned behind the computer or over a flat work surface if needed.
Those who are doing high acuity tasks such as working with spreadsheets or numbers are especially happy with this lamp. This has also worked well for people who are unable to work under the overhead lighting. Some people are especially sensitive to overhead lighting and suffer from migraines caused by this light. However, the task lamp is able to be directed as needed enabling them to work without headaches.
Design Tips for Layering Light in the Office
A major complaint with fluorescent fixtures is the flicker from the ballast. In addition, many fixtures have exposed tubes which cause eye discomfort. We have just redone our office space with a basket style LED fixture - there is no flicker and there are no exposed tubes. It is a light that is dispersed both downward through the frosted the basket as well as reflected on the fixture surround making a very comfortable and pleasant light source.
Pendant fixtures are often hung so that they shine on keyboards or in meeting areas, these can effectively be used to differentiate between spaces and provide an area of interest for meetings or gatherings.
Lighting Tips for Shared Workspaces
In designing lighting for the office, it is important to take into consideration what the use of the space is. Is it for teams to collaborate in, individual workspaces, meeting rooms or as in many cases a mixture of all? What are the needs and preferences of the individuals working in the space? Employees who have some control over their lighting are found to be happier and more productive in studies looking at worker retention.
The size of the area will also determine which type of lighting fixture is needed and how many are actually needed for the space. We have had a number of customers who have too many fixtures in a small area and we are asked to decommission some of the fixtures. You want light that is sufficient for the task and yet won’t blast someone out of the space.
When you are considering office lighting you will want to have an expert involved who will ask about the use of the space and provide guidance to determine the type of lighting and appropriate amount needed.