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My co-workers told me that it is harmful for my eyes' health to work facing a wall (the distance between my eyes and the wall is the width of the desk). I was given a brief explanation but I'm not totally convinced. It involved the fact that my eyes can't look around at a distance since I'm limited to the width of the desk.

My work involves starring at computer screens (reading, coding, etc) almost constantly.

Question: I'm comfortable with working facing a wall. Anyway I do care about my health. So, are there any objective medical/health reasons why working facing a wall might damage my vision?

  • @андрэ hey there welcome to The Workplace. Perhaps you got a DV because your post lacks details for us to be able to really help you without having to guess or give blind advices. Please clarify, where did you read/hear this? Are you experiencing discomfort now with your setting? What do you want us to help you with? Is it a way to ask your manager to be relocated to not face the wall? Please clarify. – DarkCygnus Aug 28 '18 at 21:52
  • What is the question? – Kilisi Aug 28 '18 at 21:58
  • Is it better now? Thanks. – aadcg Aug 28 '18 at 21:59
  • @андрэ yes better, thanks for editing. Will do some minor tweaks – DarkCygnus Aug 28 '18 at 22:06
  • Have you asked your coworkers what evidence they have to make such claims? Could even be that they are trolling you – DarkCygnus Aug 28 '18 at 22:31
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As WendyG mentioned, the eye has to focus on other distances (not just 1 distance). This is actually one of the eye exercises, to repeatedly focus on a close object then a far away object in a very quick manner.

Other than this, the eyes have a "normal" resting focus, it is different for each person but the average is 58-67cm. See this research paper: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jeremy_Wolfe/publication/19577567_Adaptation_of_the_resting_states_of_accommodation._Dark_and_light_field_measures/links/0deec517af8dbd974c000000.pdf Taken from: https://www.quora.com/What-distance-does-the-human-eye-focus-on-during-sleep

If you were up against a wall, you can still "look" or focus at 50 cm, and 1 metre, by relaxing the eye and getting it to look at something imaginary behind the wall (I do this easily, I'm not sure if everyone can, try it out). Otherwise as others suggested, simply ask for a replacement desk or one next to a window.

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When I started working in computing (early 90s), this was standard advice, do not face your computer at a wall so you could constantly focus on other distances, as this is what your eyes are designed to do.

BUT I just checked and I can not find a single mention of it in any of the health and safety articles I read. Just the rules to look away every 30 mins (which is far to long for me).

I do not know if this was dropped because so many offices can not sensibly be laid out any other way, or new research has shown it to be defunct.

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    I received the same advice and I obsessively live by it. Every 15-20 minutes (or pretty much whenever you can) focus your eyes on something on else at a different distance. I'm pretty much the only person in our office who doesn't wear glasses. – solarflare Aug 28 '18 at 23:15
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    According to the medical literature, there's no evidence that staring at walls (or computers) damages eyesight - but it can lead to eye strain. Ageing, on the other hand (which is difficult to avoid) can bring on presbyopia when the lens in your eys becomes less flexible. – Laconic Droid Aug 29 '18 at 12:24
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There are more aspects of an ergonomic work place than facing a wall or a window.

To sum up a few concerning your vision:

  • Your displays should be anti-reflective.
  • Your desk should be positioned perpendicular to light sources to avoid reflections on your displays, keyboard and desktop.
  • The brightness of your displays should be adaptable to the brightness of the room (or vice versa) to avoid stress by high contrasts.
  • You actually should avoid having window directly in front of you or in your back. If you do, there must be a shade or other means to block the sun installed.
  • You should have the possibility to look at distant objects every one in a while. You don't have to sit facing a window for that, turning sideways to look out a windows is enough.

For more information, search for "ergonomic screen workplace". The recommendations have changed over the last years, so your colleagues might recall some outdated rules.

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