You and your VDU

It is true that VDU users tend to complain of eye strain more than non-users.

This is likely to be due to fatigue through causes such as:

  • insufficient and infrequent rest periods;
  • incorrect positioning of the screen and/or documents;
  • unsuitable lighting;
  • poorly designed work area;
  • an uncorrected eyesight fault, such as long sight, short sight, astigmatism or presbyopia;
  • the eyes are not working together properly

Any of these conditions could lead to fatigue; all can be overcome through good design of the working environment and by regular eyecare.

Take frequent breaks

When you work at a VDU your eyes can be focused on the screen for long periods so it is important to take a brief rest and give your eyes a break every 30 minutes or so. You should have sufficient space behind the screen for you to be able to look beyond it and relax your eyes. If not try looking out of a window for a few minutes.

Screen settings and position

You should adjust your VDU to levels of brightness and contrast that you find comfortable. Keep the screen clean and free of dust and fingermarks. If possible, position it so that windows or other light sources are to the side rather than in front or behind it – if you can see a window or light unit reflected in the screen, move the VDU until the reflections disappear, or adjust blinds or curtains.

The surface of the screen should be between 33 and 100 cms from your eyes and if you are working from copy documents, these should be placed at roughly the same distance to avoid continual re-focusing.


Try to eliminate as much glare as possible from the region around your screen. This is not always straightforward, but as a general rule:

  • office lighting should be set at a level which allows the documents and screen to be read easily. Additional lighting, such as an Anglepoise lamp, may sometimes be necessary to achieve this;

Avoid an uncurtained window directly in front or behind your working position. Any window reflected in the screen should be fitted with blinds or curtains. Walls and desk surfaces should be non-reflective and neutral in colour

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