Headache due to computer work

Anyone who spends a lot of time in front of a PC may experience excessive discomfort or headaches. Headache and neck complaints are common complaints among more than 40% of VDU workers who have to look at their screen for a long time. The cause is often not immediately apparent, and many people take it for granted. But there are a number of precautions you can take yourself to reduce the risk of headaches. One of them is taking regular breaks.

Computer Vision Syndrome

Working at a computer screen can cause symptoms of fatigue and other eye complaints. The name Computer Vision Syndrome is also used for this. It usually concerns eye strain, sometimes accompanied by watery and/or burning eyes and some reduced vision. In principle, there is no need to fear that these complaints will be permanent, even if one no longer works at a computer screen. People who have dry eyes are more likely to develop these complaints. This means that contact lens wearers and women in general are more likely to suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome, because dry eyes are more likely to occur. The eye complaints mentioned can of course lead to headaches.


From an ergonomic point of view, a computer worker may actually spend a maximum of 6 hours in front of his or her screen. The remaining time of the working day should preferably be spent doing physical activities. This is obviously not possible at every workplace, and in those cases it is recommended to take a break of about 15 minutes at least every 2 hours. This right is included in a special ARBO decree, and employers are obliged to allow these breaks. It is best to walk to the toilet, get coffee, or just stretch your legs; everything except looking at the screen. Also make sure there is enough fresh air.

Display equipment setup

In addition to looking at the screen for (too) long, an incorrect setup of the screen equipment is also an important cause of headaches for VDU workers. In these cases it is often a form of tension headache, due to tension or cramping of the neck muscles, but you can also take measures against this. Proper design of the workplace can largely prevent tension headaches. Therefore, make sure that the screen is at the right height for you, sit straight in front of the screen and ensure that the distance between your eyes and the screen is at least 50 centimeters. Finally, prevent reflections on the screen from, for example, light sources or windows. If you take these points into account and sit behind your screen in a good and relaxed manner, you will be less likely to suffer from tension headaches.

Other causes of headaches due to computer work

  • If you still suffer from frequent headaches despite the prescribed breaks and the correct setup of the screen equipment, it is possible that your eyesight is not optimal. The eyes then have to make an extra effort to read the text on the screen, which in turn can lead to a headache. Therefore, have your optician regularly check whether your visual acuity is still sufficient or whether you may need glasses.
  • Another possible cause and one that is becoming increasingly common is (too) high work pressure or too high a work pace.
  • In addition, too little fresh air, too many people in a small space, and disturbing noises around the computer worker are also important causes of frequent headaches.

So try to eliminate all these types of causes as much as possible. After all, prevention is still much better than cure.