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Worker Productivity & Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also known as computer eyestrain, is an increasingly common issue for workers in an office environment.

Spending long portions of the day staring at a computer screen results in a number of troubling symptoms, such as:

  • Dry eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Headaches
  • Stiff back or neck

The Connection Between CVS & Worker Efficiency

employee in front of computer screenIn this day and age, employers no longer have the luxury of overlooking the impact that CVS has on those in the workplace. Remarkably, research from the American Optometric Association (AOA) has shown that between 50% and 90% of individuals who use a computer for work experience one or more of the symptoms associated with CVS.

Though these effects are not damaging to the eye from a purely medical perspective, their negative impact on an individual’s work performance has been well-documented in multiple studies.

The takeaway from all this is clear: the symptoms associated with CVS are detrimental to workplace productivity, and ought to be a cause of concern for employers.

Computer Vision Symptoms & Common Treatment Methods

Symptom: Eyestrain or Eye Fatigue

Working on the computer hour after hour is not an easy task for your eyes: they’re constantly focusing and moving around, which puts plenty of strain on your eye muscles. Moreover, unlike reading a book, looking at a computer screen forces your eyes to deal with screen flicker and glare.

  • Possible Treatment: Computer eyewear

When a person uses the computer, the screen is typically 20-26 inches away from their eyes. Computer glasses are specifically designed with this distance in mind – the modified lens power makes it so your eyes don’t have to strain to see the screen, allowing for comfortable and clear vision.

There are a number of different special purpose lens designs that can optimize your computer eyewear. Computer glasses can be tinted to assist your eyes with focusing on the characters on the screen, and to help cut down on glare. Moreover, adding anti-reflective coating to the surfaces of the eyeglasses can help reduce the amount of glare coming from the computer screen and nearby light sources.

Symptom: Dry and irritated eyes.

Office workers with dry eyes experience a drop in their daily productivity. Oftentimes, the dryness of the office environment exacerbates this issue.  

  • Treatment: Periodically taking eye drops or artificial tears.

This is a good way to counteract the optic dryness that sets in during prolonged computer use. Instead of just purchasing an over-the-counter drop, though, it’s best to check with your eye doctor and receive a prescription drop.

Symptom: Injuries & musculoskeletal disorders

Using the computer all day doesn’t only affect your eyes and vision: the extended periods of sitting – as well as the repetitive motions and stationary body position – can often result in shoulder, neck, back and wrist problems. Unlike the visual issues associated with CVS, which are typically gone by the following day, musculoskeletal problems can linger for much greater lengths of time.

  • Treatment: Proper ergonomic design

When it comes to addressing the negative physical effects of computer use, making adjustments in the ergonomic design of the office and workspace is often the most practical approach to take. This is known as computer ergonomics, which aims at creating a comfortable fit between the computer and the person using it in the work environment. Ultimately, the goal is to optimize performance and productivity, and of course to avoid any computer-related health issues.

To guard against any light problems, it’s best to sit directly in front of the computer, and to ensure that the screen is located just below your eye level. Ideally, there should be an arm’s length distance between you and your computer screen. You can make things easier for your eyes by enlarging the size of the text, wiping your screen down to keep it clean, and dimming the lights in the room so they’re not competing with the light from your monitor.

Symptom: Blurry vision

If you notice you’re having an increasingly difficult time making out characters on the computer monitor, it could be that your prescription eyeglasses or contacts need updating.

  • Treatment: Comprehensive vision care program

Turning to an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a thorough eye examination will determine what lens power your eyes require for the highest level of visual acuity.

Individuals should receive an eye exam at least bi-annually – though for seniors the AOA recommends annual examinations.

Many companies offer vision care to their workers as part of the health benefits package. Considering the negative effects that CVS has been shown to have on productivity, it’s not surprising that studies reveal that employers who invest in their employees’ optic health see productivity gains. Thus, proactively helping to minimize computer-related vision problems is an effective cost saving measure for companies in the long run.