woman suffering from eye strain in front of a computerWorkers in factories, construction, chemical plants, and many other industries risk eye injuries that could cause permanent vision loss or blindness. However, some employees could develop vision problems with no apparent injury to their eyes. A common problem they could experience is computer vision syndrome, which is a range of problems associated with the eye strain and pain associated with computer use.

Workers who stare at computers, their cellphones, or tablets for seven or eight hours a day while at work are at risk of developing this problem. This includes a huge segment of the workforce and many professions such as:

  • Office workers
  • Computer programmers and software developers
  • Salespeople
  • Insurance agents and adjusters
  • Accountants
  • Writers
  • Mortgage and loan officers
  • Attorneys
  • Court clerks

How Working on a Computer Can Damage Your Eyes

Computer eye syndrome is similar to carpel tunnel syndrome in that it involves repetitive motions—in this case by your eyes. When working on a computer, your eyes must constantly focus, move back and forth, and align what you are seeing. This involves working your eye muscles in the same way over and over again.

A person could develop computer vision syndrome from the repetitive eye movements involved with staring at a computer for long periods of time. While a large part of the computer-using workforce will experience some problems associated with computer eye syndrome at some point, those at the highest risk include:

  • Workers who have eye problems like nearsightedness or astigmatism
  • Workers who should wear glasses but do not use them
  • Older workers

Causes and Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome is often caused by problems with a worker’s work station. These can include the following:

  • Poor lighting
  • Glare on the computer screen
  • Poor seating posture or a chair not suited for the person
  • Maintaining an incorrect distance from the computer screen

If you suffer with computer vision syndrome, you could suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Eye strain
  • Double vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Eye and general fatigue
  • Neck and shoulder pain

How Is Computer Vision Syndrome Treated?

While treatment can often eliminate the symptoms of computer vision syndrome, some people will continue to have vision loss issues, such as blurred vision, even if they stop using a computer or take a break from it. If the problem is ignored, it will worsen and could develop into a chronic problem.

Treating this syndrome involves both medical treatment and changes to the employee’s workstation to eliminate the causes of the problem. Medical treatments that could help:

  • Eye glasses or contact lenses. Some people may need an adjustment to their prescription or to start wearing glasses to improve their ability to view their computer without suffering with the symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
  • Special lenses. A sufferer may need a lens designed for computer users that has features such as special designs, powers, or coatings to help improve vision and reduce discomfort.
  • Vision therapy. If eye glasses or contact lenses do not improve the problem, a worker may need vision therapy to help him with eye focusing and coordination. 

In addition, changes to the employee’s work station can reduce the symptoms of this disorder. Employers should work with the injured employee to make the following modifications:

  • Computer screen. People often find it more comfortable to view a computer when their eyes are looking downward. A computer screen should be positioned 4 to 5 inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches from the person’s eyes.
  • Reference materials. The goal is to position these materials so a worker does not have to constantly move his eyes from the document to the computer screen. Ideally, documents should be located above the keyboard and below the monitor or on a document holder next to the computer monitor.
  • Lighting. Employers need to insure that there is proper lighting in the work area to reduce glare from the worker’s computer screen.
  • Anti-glare screen. If modifications to office lighting do not reduce computer glare problems, employers should provide workers with anti-glare monitor screens.
  • Chairs. Workers need comfortable chairs that can be adjusted for their height and comfort both to reduce carpel tunnel syndrome and computer vision syndrome.

An employer may need to purchase a different computer desk, modified keyboards, or better office chairs to reduce a worker’s vision problems. In addition, workers should be encouraged to do the following:

  • Take breaks. Workers should take a 15-minute break to rest their eyes after working on the computer for two hours continuously.
  • Blink often. Problems with dry eye can be reduced if a worker tries to blink more frequently.

If you suffer from eye vision syndrome, you may need to take time off work to rest your eyes and could need special lenses and vision therapy. Fortunately, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay your medical expenses and compensate you for your time off work. Check out my Testimonials and then start an online chat today to schedule a free consultation.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer