Medical Q&As

Laptop computer - ergonomic considerations?

I work on a laptop every day in work for the full day. I noticed my eyes deteriorating recently and had an eye test. As expected I had to get glasses (relatively mild prescription). Now I have noticed that I am getting headaches when working, which take a while to disappear after I finish work. I am wondering what is the best way to minimise this problem.

Laptop computers were originally designed as a short-term replacement for the worker on the move who needed access to a computer while away from his or her regular desktop computer. However, despite the ingenuity involved in developing these more portable computers very little consideration was given to the ergonomics of laptop computing. With the regular desktop computer it is possible to adjust the height and position of the keyboard and VDU independently however, in the case of the laptop this is not possible because they are attached to each other. Also the keyboard on the laptop is smaller than the keypad with a conventional desktop model, which means that the user has to adapt their posture and personal comfort to adjust to the computer. It is also more difficult to adjust the laptop screen to avoid glare, which may account for some of your eye symptoms. In order to avoid some of the difficulties you are experiencing I would suggest that you try to take more breaks from the laptop. It is also important to vary your posture and not to get cramped in the one position throughout the day. Also make sure that you have a proper chair to sit on because if the seat height is not properly adjusted this can also contribute to poor posture. A footrest may also be of benefit to you. If you carry your laptop from place to place make sure that you carry as few accessories as possible in order to reduce the weight you are carrying which in turn helps to avoid neck and shoulder strain. Finally keep a check on your posture throughout the day and ensure that your wrists are not bent and that the laptop screen is kept at armís length