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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Computer Vision Syndrome

Maralyn Kastel - Friday, May 21, 2010

Computer vision syndrome is the name given to a collection of vision symptom typically reported by computer users.  These symptoms can be divided into three categories including symptoms associated with the following:

  • Ability to see – eg blurry vision, eyestrain
  • Visual comfort, eg sore eyes, headaches
  • Physical comfort, eg sore neck and shoulders

Why does computer vision syndrome occur?
Using a computer is a visually demanding task.  It requires our eyes to focus precisely, often for long periods of time.  Therefore, small visual problems which might otherwise remain unnoticed may become more obvious when performing computer tasks.  Additionally, we tend to blink less frequently when concentrating on a tasks and this can lead to eye dryness.

Sitting at a computer for extended periods can also lead to muscle soreness in the neck and shoulders.  This occurs when:

  • a workstation is incorrectly set up, or
  • if inappropriate lenses are worn or
  • if an insufficient number of rest breaks are taken

How can computer vision syndrome be managed?
The five key areas of managing this syndrome are as follows:

  1. If you have difficulty seeing or your eyes feel uncomfortable, make an appointment to have an eye examination.  No referral is necessary in Australia to see an optometrist or if needed with an ophthalmologist (you’ll need a referral from an optometrist or from your doctor for this)
  2. Before you have the eye examination, measure the distance that you sit from your computer monitor and the height of your computer relative to your eyes.  Take this information with you when you have your eyes examined, so that if spectacles are prescribed, they will be correctly focused for the work you do.
  3. If you wear glasses for reading, consider purchasing different glasses exclusively for computer work (eg extended focus progressives, also known as “computer multifocals”) rather than making do with regular progressive (multifocal) glasses or bifocals.  This will help you maintain a more comfortable neck and back posture when working.
  4. Set up your workstation correctly so that you can read your computer display easily. It is also a good idea to regularly clean your computer monitor to remove any fingerprints and dusts.
  5. Take regular breaks.  If you have the opportunity, get up and go for a walk during your break as this is beneficial for both your eyes and your body.
Guest post by Jennifer Long Visual Ergonomics. Jennifer is an occupational optometry specialist and a certified professional ergonomist. She has completed a Bachelor of Optometry and a Master of Safety Science.

By combining her academic background with practical optometry and ergonomics experience, Jennifer offers a holistic approach to solving vision problems in the workplace. She is typically asked to provide consultancy services investigating visual comfort and visual demands in a variety of work environments 

Contact details for Jennifer Long
Address: PO Box 645,  Katoomba NSW 2780
Telephone: +61 2 4782  3472
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