How to Avoid Computer Glare on Glasses

Listen, we’re not ones to fiddle with our Zoom video filters until we’ve got a hazy Cybill-Shepherd-in- Moonlighting thing going on. We’re really not. But let’s just say there are those among us who, even though we’re quite comfy in our own skin, maybe don’t love staring at our own faces quite as much as we’ve had to, of late. We’re grown-ups, so we don’t want to care about looking good on Microsoft Teams. But after a few hours of online meetings, we’re pretty much inspecting those bags like a TSA agent. And those of us who wear reading glasses? We’re just trying not to blind everyone with monitor glare.

You’re brilliant enough, okay? Here’s how to stop computer glare on glasses—three easy ways. 

  1. How to stop monitor glare on glasses with brighter home office lighting
It’s funny how long we’ll live with a problem that’s a pretty quick fix. Think about it this way: if your computer screen is the only source of light—or the brightest source, at least—in the room, it’s going to cause a reflection in your glasses. That’s just light doing its thing. And that’s why one of the most foolproof ways to reduce glare on glasses is to simply make the whole room brighter. 

If you’ve spent most of your professional life in a regular office, you’ve probably become accustomed to working in rooms that are optimized by space planners and interior designers, specifically for people looking at digital screens for nine hours a day (sorry). There’s probably ample overhead lighting and, if you’re lucky, a window or two. The aforementioned space planners may have even set up your desk to minimize window glare on your computer screen, and helpfully fitted your windows with blinds. 

But unless you’re a space planner or interior designer IRL, you may not have quite as much control over your home office lighting—particularly if working from home is a scenario that was suddenly (and rudely) thrust upon you. Your home office might be pulling double-duty as the kitchen island, the guest room bed or even a dark corner of the garage. Regardless, increasing your ambient home office lighting will reduce glare on glasses, guaranteed. That way all of you, not just your specs, will be glowing.

  1. How to stop computer glare on glasses with better home office lighting

The kind of light you use in your home office can also have a dramatic impact on your Zoom face. Consider switching to “white light” or “bright daylight” LED bulbs, which can throw 2550 lumens (the equivalent of up to 200 watts) around the room. You can also borrow a trick from photographers, and add a “soft light” to your home office lighting setup. Also called an umbrella light or soft box, it’s basically just a high-quality light bulb with a professional-grade diffuser that expands the footprint of the light source from a few centimeters to a few feet. 

The soft box is similar in function to a lampshade, in that its job is to transform the harsh “hard light” of a single bulb into a larger, softer, more flattering glow—magically softening glare on glasses, smoothing away shadows and even (bonus!) fading wrinkles. Based on your unique home office lighting setup, you may need to play with positioning of your soft box to get the angle just right. But it’s an easy fix that will probably cost you under fifty bucks. 

  1. How to stop computer glare on glasses with different home office lighting angles

Want to prove the concept before you drop coin? Any white wall or ceiling in your office can function as an ad hoc soft box. Instead of aiming those bright lights at your face—where the so-called hard light will bounce right off those sexy specs—try pointing them at the wall behind your computer monitor. You’re likely to have better results if your desk is closer to the wall; if you’ve got a middle-of-the-room desk, try pointing the lights at your ceiling. 

If your office walls aren’t bright white, here’s another ultra-easy photographer’s trick that might help: propping some white foam core boards against the wall, at eye level. This is called “bouncing;” the white board simply diffuses and diverts the light. It’s a reliable way to stop glasses glare that costs under $5.

And finally, if you’re not cool with investing a single dollar to look good on Zoom, play with the positioning of everything in your office—your desk, your laptop or monitor, and your lighting. Now that we’ve explored the basic physics of glare, you can probably guess that any light source that’s directly opposite your face is more likely to cause an unwanted reflection. So let’s experiment! Sometimes the smallest (and 100% free) home office lighting tweaks can make a huge difference.

If your desk faces a window, for example, play around with window coverings, or try sitting at an angle, and remember that foam core works for bouncing natural light, too. If you’re using a desk lamp, try moving it off to one side, propping it up on a stack of books, or (even better) getting it a mate. This process will be unique for everyone, because ALL of the variables are different: screen angle, light source, wall and window position, room color and even how you wear your glasses. 

Our advice: start your own private video meeting and just play around! Without other folks watching, you’ll be free to futz with every single variable until you’ve achieved glowy—not glare-y—perfection.

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