Working in an office environment seems like one of the less dangerous professions in terms of physical problems, but it has its share of issues. One condition that office workers need to look out for is Computer Vision Syndrome, often called Digital Eye Strain.
This is a condition that can affect your well-being and work productivity, and if it's not treated and mitigated, it could lead to a longer-term injury that may take significant time to heal.
Not a One-Time Thing
Everyone's been through a time when they had to do so much work on a computer that they ended up red-eyed and tired. Computer Vision Syndrome takes this a bit further. It's a chronic form of that eye fatigue, accumulating day by day and making it harder for you to see well. Side effects include those red, tired eyes; headaches; poor visual focus or blurry vision; dry eyes; and less productivity.
This doesn't sound like a major issue at first until you realize that as long as you do not rest your eyes adequately and don't use computer glasses (more on those in a minute), you can have Computer Vision Syndrome. It can persist after you stop work, too. So even if you don't look at a computer at all at night, you can still experience the side effects of your computer use during the day.
If left totally untreated, the condition could make it harder, or impossible, for you to get your work done, or to do anything involving screens. That opens the door to disability and workers' compensation claims.
Treatment and Prevention
Your employer should have made you aware of the 20-20-20 rule for preventing eye strain. This helps your eyes readjust and shake off the effects of staring into a screen. There are also computer glasses -- eyeglasses that use a prescription geared toward making computer screens easier to look at -- that you can get to help protect your eyes.
However, not all employers educate workers about the rule, and in some cases, the employer might try to prevent the worker from taking those small breaks.
If you have been prevented from stopping to look up and away from your computer screen (for example, by a micromanaging boss), or if you think you have developed severe eye strain from work and are now facing problems reading or using screens, you may want to consult with an experienced attorney. You definitely need to see an optometrist for a diagnosis, but the attorney can help detect whether your employer may have been negligent in setting up your work environment and whether you are entitled to compensation.