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Eye Strain And Computer Vision Syndrome Are Common Workplace Injuries

Whether they know it or not many office workers across Pennsylvania suffer from eyestrain symptoms related to computer monitor use. While it may not be a recognized workplace injury issue by some employers, computer vision issues are ranked as the top health-related office complaint by OHSA. While the majority of us cannot walk away from the issue, the path to better eye vision at work involves recognizing symptoms and enacting proper solutions.

Blurry and scratchy eyes are common symptoms among people who spend three or more hours in front of a computer screen at work. The way modern design of computer screens leads to blurry eyes and headaches. The symptoms are the result of two muscle groups within the eye being continuously flexed and the continual flexing of the eye muscles leads to repetitive stress problems. The sensation of scratchiness is the result of your eyes not blinking enough as you stare at the monitor. A normal blink rate is between 12 to 15 blinks per minute, but it turns out that blinking interferes with a computer user’s ability to read the screen. As a consequence, when you look at a monitor the average blink rate is reduced to 4 to 5 blinks per minute and dry, scratchy eyes are the result. In addition, a person with watery eyes also suffers from dry eyes because the reduced blink rate does not spread tears across the eye effectively.

Artificial office light often compounds the problem and too often workers try to seek natural light by placing computers close to windows. However, misplaced lighting can cause glare or over-illumination of the eye causing the eye to work harder to focus. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to lessen and reduce eye strain at work and proper posture, viewing angle and lighting are all a part of the equation.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Anshel, who wrote “Visual Ergonomics in the Workplace”, your computer monitor should be placed far enough away to comfortably read what is on the screen. Lights around or near the monitor should be placed where they do not produce glare and sources of bright light should not be in your view. Further, the center of the screen should be placed 7 to 10 inches below your horizontal line of sight. Workers should also take 10 to 20 second breaks by looking an object at least 20 feet away every 10 minutes to relax eye muscles. A longer break to stand and stretch should be taken every hour.

As many as 150 to 200 million Americans suffer from eyestrain and related issues referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome. Those who have eyestrain symptoms should first work with their employer to resolve the issue, and if the issue is not resolved, an experienced workplace injury attorney can provide assistance.

Source: Huffington Post, “Overworked Eyes: Will Your Computer Make You Go Blind?” Robert Joyce, July 5, 2012