Office Of The Future

Lighten Up

Believe it or not, your eyes burn more calories in the average day than your legs do. Not too surprising when you consider their exhaustive daily cycle: shutting down when exposed to brightness and opening up in dim conditions, over and over again, a million times each day.

"When you take your glasses off and rub your eyes, you have tired eyes," says Mark Roush of Philips Lighting Co. in Somerset, New Jersey. "That's natural. That's real. That's the musculature in your eyes burning a great deal of calories."

Although eye fatigue is not entirely preventable, the proper illumination in your home office can help you avoid at least some of the strain. According to Roush, "We need to work in a space that's uniformly bright. That will aid tremendously in comfort and the ability to focus."

He says your best bet--albeit difficult to achieve--is an all-white, evenly lighted room with no windows and with white furniture, white floors and white wallpaper, so that light reflects off all surfaces. "That's what you should always lean toward," Roush says. The more contrasting the colors (like a dark mahogany desk on white carpet), the more work your eyes must do.

With that in mind, here are some lighting recommendations, to be used alone or in combination, to help you attain visual-friendly surroundings:

  • Fluorescent lighting is always a good bright-light source, and it's available in 40 shades of white light. Make sure light comes from more than one direction; if your office dimensions are 8 feet by 10 feet, for example, you'd want four fluorescent fixtures.
  • Wall sconces direct light upward. "The ceiling then becomes a uniform plane of brightness and reflects down to the work surface," says Roush.
  • Torchier lamps evenly brighten rooms, making reading easier and more comfortable.
  • Table lamps are a mistake if they're your only source of light. "That means there's brightness in one corner and darkness in another," Roush explains.
  • Sheers over windows soften the sky's natural brightness.

Think the above suggestions don't apply to you? Think again. Says Roush, "I'm absolutely convinced that close to 95 percent of home offices have the wrong light."

Contact Sources

Agio Designs Inc., (800) 688-2446,

Bio-Brite Inc., (800) 621-LITE

Haworth Inc., (800) 344-2600,

Philips Lighting Co.,

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