Just when you thought it was safe to dump Windows and move to the Mac, now we find that the Mac’s glossy screen might be bad for your health.
What’s next? The iPhone causes arthritis? The iPod causes hearing loss? The iTunes Store causes financial ruin (unlike the US stock market)? Does this stuff ever end?
The latest news comes from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia in a paper entitled High Gloss Computer Screens.
This isn’t a warning aimed at all users of glossy computer screens, of which there are many. This is a warning for Mac users whose computers have the high gloss screens, whether iMacs, MacBook or MacBook Pro, or even the new LED Cinema Display.
How can a computer’s display be bad for your health? After all, computer screens have been glossy for many years. Surely, someone somewhere has done a study which show the inherent dangers, right? Or, not.
Reflections and glare on high gloss monitor screens and their relation to the angle of the monitor screen, could cause the operator to adopt awkward postures when viewing the monitor screen and using related equipment. These reflections on the screen can be from internal and external sources such as the overhead lighting and/or position of windows.
There you have it. Glossy screens, standard these days or not, have more reflection and glare than matte screens. How is that bad for your health? Apparently, Mac users will adjust both the screen and themselves in an effort to block the reflection and glare emanating from the screens.
That extra effort leads to poor posture which leads to poor health.
Awkward postures adopted by the operator may in turn lead to an injury.
You can clearly see where this is going, right? Why are Mac users singled out? Apple was one of the last major computer manufacturers to move from matte screens to glossy screens.
A Mac matte screen is only available on the MacBook Pro. All other Mac models come with a glossy screen. That begs the question: “Why do we need glossy screens if they’re so bad for our health (potentially)?”
All that glitters is not gold. It’s simple. Gloss sells. Glossy screens today look colorful and vibrant. From a distance and at first approach, a Mac glossy screen simply shouts out “buy me, I glitter, glitter is good.”
According to our Aussie friends, as well as many long time Mac users who suffered from the transition to glossy screens from matte screens, reflection and glare is not good.
Though they don’t mention that it’s bad for the eyes, they note, probably accurately, that users will adjust their posture to account for the screen’s reflective qualities in poor lighting, which, by inference, will increase medical ailments, particularly padding the pockets of prescription doctors and chiropractors.
Since it’s unlikely that Apple will give us more options for matte screens, what’s a glossy screen user to do?
There’s a whole list of considerations to be, uh, well, considered to prevent injury. Angle the high gloss screen. Minimize overhead lighting. Adjust contrast. Adjust brightness. Close blinds to reduce glare.
And, formally, there’s the important advice of consulting and advising with your manager, local supervisor, or a Workplace Health and Safety Representative to assess the risk.
Not covered by the Aussie’s in their attempt to protect Mac users are my personal suggestions to avoid Glossy Screen Glare Injury Syndrome™, or GSGIS.
Mac workers should be given special anti-reflective glasses. We also need 10 minutes break time every hour to relieve postural stress and eye strain. Managers in an office of glossy screened Macs should wear a protective black visor helmet, similar to that worn by crotch rocket cycle riders, to avoid incidental injury from nearby Mac glossy screens.
What I haven’t figured out is why Mac glossy screens were singled out? Are there no other glossy PCs in Australia? Or, do Mac users require special handling? We know we do.
Admittedly, I am not a fan of Apple’s glossy screens, though I’m an owner of an Apple LED Cinema Display which is drop dead beautiful. It’s great. Provided I turn out all the lights in my office and wear a dark, OS X Leopard t-shirt. And sunglasses.
Physical injury caused by a loved one (my Mac) is not fun, of course. There are many considerations besides posture for glossy screen users. Glasses. Angle. Office lighting. Ergonomic chair. Desk and keyboard height. Eye strain.
I’m all in favor of a weekly visit by the staff massage therapist. It seems that such a health benefit would be a perfect fit to help me reduce the potential of being injured while using my Mac.