Key Takeaways:

  • A downward angle of about 15 degrees below the viewer’s eye line is optimal for maximum comfort, eye strain reduction, viewing range, and prevention of involuntary head tilt.
  • Viewing distances of no less than 20″ from the viewer to the display will further prevent eye strain and increase productivity and energy.
  • Begin your monitor positioning by tilting the monitor down 15 degrees to start with a slightly downcast angle to your eye line.

Defining Viewing Angle

Anyone who works for hours every day in an office or a home office in front of a computer screen knows that it can take its toll physically. Eye strain, neck strain, back, and leg pain are all serious issues and all can result from poor ergonomics when it comes to seating position and a monitor’s viewing angle- the latter of which we’re concerned with here. Keep reading to see why your monitor’s viewing angle matters and how to adjust it for the healthiest, most comfortable work experience possible.

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Monitor Viewing Angle

Extensive research has been done in recent years regarding computer workstation ergonomics, and though results have varied slightly from study to study regarding optimal viewing angle for displays and high-end monitors.

The general consensus, however, is that at a position of rest, the eyes should naturally assume a straight but slightly downcast line of sight. The degree to which the eyes should be downcast for optimal strain resistance and comfort is between 15 and 30 degrees.

This means that the best vertical position for your monitor should be at about 15 degrees below the horizontal eye line, creating a visual zone of 30 degrees- that’s 15 degrees above and below the horizontal eye line.

There’s some wiggle room beyond that since while field studies have concluded that viewing your screen upwards for extended periods of time is tiring to the eyes, they’ve also found even a lower range 30 degrees past the horizontal eye line is acceptable for most work for medium periods of time (a short workday, for example), bringing the total acceptable viewing range to 45 degrees.

Following these numbers as a rule of thumb should eliminate most of the danger of severe eye strain for an average work period of 8 hours.

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A Word About Head Tilting

It’s important to keep in mind when discussing ideal monitor viewing angle that the above numbers refer to eye line and visual range without head tilt taken into consideration.
Research has shown that head tilt can add considerable strain to the spine during long periods of work, even at minimal angles. A head tilt angle of as little as 15 degrees up or down adds almost 30 pounds of pressure to the spine.

Thankfully, if you’ve adjusted your viewing angle properly, you’ll have a good visual range vertically and horizontally without having to tilt your head at all though mindfulness during work is important since the body can adjust itself involuntarily and you can find yourself forming bad viewing habits.

To that end, it’s a good practice to always start off positioning your monitor by angling it downwards, if possible via a swivel or wall mount.

STAT:

Recommended viewing distance for average-sized computer monitors (under 30″) is no less than 20″

https://www.ergotron.com/en-us/ergonomics/ergonomic-equation#:~:text=Your%20eyes%20should%20look%20slightly,larger%2C%20add%20more%20viewing%20distance.

Ideal view distance from large-format displays (30″ or more) is 3.5″- 5.5″

https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/office/monitor_positioning.html

Head tilt of as little as 15 degrees can cause considerable spinal strain over long work hours

*https://www.viewsonic.com/library/entertainment/monitor-curvature-explained/

Sources:

https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/office/monitor_positioning.html

*https://www.viewsonic.com/library/business/best-computer-screen-positioning/

https://www.glfw.org/docs/3.3/monitor_guide.html

https://www.joeedelman.com/monitor-viewing-angle-gauge/

Defining Viewing Angle For Monitors FAQ

Why is viewing angle important?

Studies have concluded that viewing angle contributes significantly to eye strain and involuntary head tilting, both of which increase fatigue and which can have a lasting impact on physical health, including spinal pressure and sleep disturbance.

Do curved displays improve the viewing experience significantly?

Curved displays are generally advertised to offer a superior and more immersive visual experience than standard flatscreens, and while their increased peripheral viewing area may add a degree of extra comfort, the curvature is along the horizontal axis and thus doesn't significantly affect the ergonomics of the viewing angle per se.

How far should I position my monitor from my eyes?

Although the user's vision plays a role in the optimal viewing distance, the general rule of thumb is that your eyes should be no less than 20" away from your display for the most part during long work periods. This is almost as important as viewing angle when it comes to eye and neck strain, so keep it in mind when positioning your monitor.

Jed Smith

I'm a musician and recording engineer and live in Queens. I have a cat. Her name is Elsa. I love to write about consumer tech and musical instruments.

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