Worker Productivity and Computer Vision Syndrome

December 14, 2015

If you use a computer at work, you probably already know that a long day of staring at your screen can lead to eye strain, tired eyes, headache, muscle aches and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS). But you may not know that CVS also can cause work mistakes and lost productivity.

And if you own a company, you might be interested to know that studies suggest you can increase profits by providing your employees vision care benefits and computer glasses to help boost productivity, decrease errors and reduce worker disability claims.

Is Computer Vision Syndrome Really a Major Problem at Work?

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), the most frequent health complaints among computer workers are vision-related. Studies indicate that 50 to 90 percent of computer users suffer from visual symptoms of computer vision syndrome. These symptoms include eye strain, dry eyes, eye irritation, blurred vision and double vision.

With more and more of us using a computer at work, CVS is becoming a major public health issue. The AOA reports that a survey of optometrists found that approximately 10 million eye exams are performed annually in the United States due to vision problems related to computer use.

CVS and Worker Productivity

A study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Optometry examined the relationship between the vision of computer workers and their productivity in the workplace.

Should employers provide computer eyewear to workers? Studies suggest that increased productivity more than justifies the cost.

This study found:

  • A direct correlation between proper vision correction and productivity. This relationship particularly is evident with complex and/or repetitive computer tasks such as data entry.
  • A direct correlation between proper vision correction and the time required for a computer worker to perform a task. Computer-related tasks took much longer when the subjects wore glasses with less than the optimum correction.
  • Reduced productivity even among computer users who were unaware they had vision problems. Computer users with small refractive errors may not notice any vision discomfort. But without proper vision correction, their performance on a specific task can suffer significantly — by as much as 20 percent.

“Our data strongly suggest that improving the visual status of workers using computers results in greater productivity in the workplace, as well as improved visual comfort,” said Kent Daum, OD, PhD, the study’s chief investigator.

Computer Eyewear and the Bottom Line

According to the UAB study, the economic benefit to employers of providing computer eyewear to their employees can be determined by measuring the average gain in productivity for computer workers over a one-year period, and dividing this productivity gain by the costs associated with the eyewear.

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