Lighting at the Workplace

June 3, 2016

I am writing this letter to discuss the importance of good lighting at the workplace as it pertains to eye discomfort contributing to decrease workers efficiency, comfort and satisfaction.  Please consider these suggestions as you look to improve the workplace.

There are many signs and symptoms of poor lighting at the office.  These can often lead to:

  • Difficulty seeing document or screen (too much light or glare, or too little light or shadows)
  • Eyestrain
  • Eye irritation
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry burning eyes
  • Headaches

Computers themselves are a light source and are designed to not need additional lamination from other sources.  The screen, itself, can cause glare if the brightness and contrast is not properly adjusted.  Work places often require the use of a monitor in conjunction with paper documents.  Paper documents require a higher light level than the monitor for good contrast. Having higher intensity light for the paper could cause a mismatch in contrast and brightness for the monitor leading to glare and eye discomfort.  To remedy that, a small soft desk lamp can be used to help with viewing the paper without affecting the monitor much. 

In addition, a lot of businesses also use fluorescent lighting.  Indeed, they are a cheaper and durable source of lighting for the office but their limited spectrum and flickering, even if you can’t actually see the flicker, do cause more eyestrain and discomfort.  The limited spectrum in fluorescents, as opposed to sunlight, which is a full spectrum lighting source, can cause more strain and have been theorized in studies to show negative affects of our natural rhythm of the day called our Circadian rhythm.  Fluorescents have also been linked to migraines, problems with sleep, depression, stress, anxiety and other body chemistry issues.

To help with reducing the chances of issues associated with prolonged fluorescent lighting and improve the work place experience, a more natural lighting source is recommended such as sunlight through employees taking more sunlight breaks or putting in more skylights or windows.  Another option is to change your limited spectrum fluorescent lights to full spectrum fluorescent lights to give a more natural range of visual spectrum for the eyes.  Use of a full spectrum filter over the fluorescent light bulb is also an option; however, make sure you get UV filters to prevent skin issues due to UV exposure from the bulb and filter combination.

I do hope you can appreciate the importance of good lighting at the workplace and I hope these tips and suggestions can help you improve your workplace experience for you and your staff.   

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.


Dr. Jason Lam O.D., M.B.A.

EyeKonic Family Optometry

Jason Lam