How to Position Your Computer

A properly positioned computer at the workstation will prevent health hazards.
A properly positioned computer at the workstation will prevent health hazards. (Image: Eraxion/iStock/Getty Images)

Whether you work from a laptop or desktop computer, you might be spending several hours a day on it, which can impact your health. Fatigue, eye strain and neck and back pain may result from computer use when the device is improperly positioned at your workstation. Your body may be forced into an awkward position and you may be making movements that are not ergonomically correct. Position your computer properly to prevent hazards to your health.

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When the distance between your computer and laptop's screen is too far or too close, it can cause your body to lean in an awkward position and also cause eyestrain. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration advises a viewing distance of 20 to 40 inches between your eyes and the screen. At this distance, you should be able to easily read text with your head and torso in an upright posture. If you have difficulty viewing text at this distance, consider increasing the font size to your computer setting.


When your computer or laptop's screen is not positioned properly for height at your workstation, it might mean you are tilting your head high or low. This can cause strain to your neck and shoulders if it goes on for a prolonged period of time. For proper positioning, first look straight ahead at your screen and then adjust the height of the screen or the chair you are sitting in so that it is 15 to 20 degrees below horizontal eye level.


Where you position your computer in a room can also impact your vision. Avoid sitting right below an overhead light that can cause a glare on your computer or laptop screen. Sitting right in front of or behind a window with direct sunlight shining through should also be avoided unless you have pull-down shade or blinds at the window. Position your computer so it avoids glare. Anti-glare screen protectors can also be used to improve visibility under improper lighting conditions.

Computer Use

Even when you have your computer or laptop properly positioned at your workstation and in the room, you should take periodic rest breaks. "The body is not designed to sit still, even in correct position, for long periods of time," according to OrthoInfo, an online resource of articles and information developed by orthopaedic surgeons who are members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Take breaks from computer use to change your seated position or stand up and stretch. You will feel more energized and prevent stiffness and pain to your body after prolonged computer use.


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