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 Healthy Computing: Optimal Distance 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by . View all columns in series
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 consent of the copyright holders

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 About The Author
Erik Peper, Ph.D. is an international authority on biofeedback and self-regulation. He is Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies, Department of Health Education, at San Francisco......moreErik Peper PhD
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