You Need to Lighten Up

Corner offices bounded by floor-to-ceiling windows may say, “Yes, I’m damn important,” but the sunlight pouring in causes great eyestrain. According to Alan Hedge, professor of human factors and ergonomics at Cornell University, “You don’t need a lot of light for computers. In fact, the less light the better.” He suggests dimming overhead lights and closing window blinds to eliminate direct light.

So how are you supposed to do paperwork in a cave? Increasingly, lighting experts are recommending that you equip lamps with compact fluorescent bulbs. Compacts are easier on the eyes than incandescent bulbs. They emit light across the color spectrum — warm light that lets true colors shine through. And compacts don’t suffer from the flickering that many older overhead fluorescent lights create when they are first turned on.

A 20-watt compact fluorescent bulb replaces a 75-watt incandescent and costs about $15. GE has a Soft White Ultra line of compact fluorescents; Philips calls its line “Earth Lights.”

There are, however, a couple of problems with compact fluorescent bulbs. First, they’re incompatible with some lamp designs, such as those tiny halogen lamps. Second, most compact fluorescents cannot be used with lamps that have dimmer switches. Read the label before you buy.

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