When we discuss protecting our eyes at work, we often think of the workers who are exposed to debris, chemicals, wood chips, metal fragments, etc. These individuals require specific eye protection, such as safety glasses or goggles, to keep their eyes safe from injury while on the job.
However, in our age of technology, we also need to add those who work on computers to this list. Not only can eye injuries reduce productivity at work, but visual discomfort and eyestrain are also contributing factors. Another source of work-related vision problems is prolonged computer use, which can lead to symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS).
According to the American Optometric Association, the most common symptoms of CVS are "eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain." Viewing a computer screen is very different from reading paper-printed material. Computer screens have different levels of illumination that can cause poor contrast, there is opportunity for glare and reflections off of a computer screen, and improper posture at the computer can contribute to back and neck strain.
Our eyes have increased demand for focusing while at the computer due to these factors, and even a small amount of uncorrected refractive error can leave our eyes feeling miserable.
Working at the computer for lengthy periods of time can also cause our eyes to feel dry due to a decrease in blink rate and incomplete blinking. Anyone working at the computer for more than two continuous hours is at risk for developing computer vision syndrome.
The AOA states, "prevention or reduction of the vision problems associated with CVS involves taking steps to control lighting and glare on the computer screen, establishing proper working distances and posture for computer viewing, and assuring that even minor vision problems are properly corrected."
Here are some tips for preventing or reducing symptoms of CVS: