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Visual Fatigue

As an employer have you observed employees who now are making simple mistakes, seen their productivity levels reduced, or struggling with concentration? Look into their eyes.

Recently in the news we’ve read about air traffic controllers falling asleep while on the job. OSHA has alerted employers as to the dangers for employees that work nontraditional work hours. I personally have encountered employees whose symptoms suggest fatigue. So I thought I’d share with you how your eyes are affected by fatigue and behavior that may indicate visual fatigue.

The human eye has muscles which control your eyes focusing. And like any muscle; these muscles get fatigued. The human eye requires a minimum of six hours sleep in order to function properly. Less than six hours of sleep and those muscles which control focusing are strained and react more slowly resulting in reduced visual performance for activities such as reading driving, and computer work. Less than six hours and the normal blink rate of twenty times per minute for the eye’s proper lubrication is severely reduced. Dryness of the eye’s cornea can reduce visual accuracy and interfere with healthy contact lens wear. When you are fatigued you may notice:

·         Difficulty and slowness in maintaining clear sharp vision of reading materials and computer screens

·         When you are walking and driving you’ll tend to focus only straight ahead disregarding peripheral vision —  as though you have tunnel vision

·         Some people report dizziness and not being able to tolerate looking at fast moving objects

·         You may experience floaters and flashes of light

·         You’ll find it uncomfortable to be in brightly lit rooms and outdoors in the bright sunshine. Night time driving will be difficult due to the discomfort from oncoming headlights

·         Your eyes will definitely feel dry or burn, itch, or maybe feel gritty. The eyes may start to tear

·         You may begin to feel your upper or lower eyelid twitching

Whether you drive a vehicle, operate a machine, or use a computer you depend on your eyes for your individual performance. Sleep is important for many health reasons including visual accuracy. For your safety and that of others let’s make sure we get the rest our bodies truly need.


Specific application prescriptions

Wouldn’t it be great if one pair of safety glasses could do it all? Unfortunately not every visual task falls in the “normal” corrective lens ranges: Near work 18- 22 inches, arms length activities 2 - 3 feet, and distance viewing 3 feet to infinity. For example: the mechanic or electrician who is working above his head; standing on a ladder, his head tilted backwards (30 degrees or more) trying to see his work through his flat top bifocals or trifocals? I have an optical solution, the double D bifocal, to improve his visual accuracy and reduce the likelihood of a fall

Maybe you’ve observed computer users; their chins raised up 10 - 15 degrees, trying to view their work on the computer monitor through their progressive bifocals? The appropriate computer progressive will eliminate the likelihood of an ergonomic injury while reducing visual fatigue and improving their visual productivity

Perhaps you’ve noticed employees constantly moving their heads up & down, left to right; in order to find the clearest focus point through their bifocals. The correct bifocals with wider fields & less distortion will provide uninterrupted visual performance at both near, intermediate and far. The correct prescription can improve productivity by as much as 38%.

Are you receiving employee complaints concerning glare, reflections, and blurred vision when non prescription eyewear is used over their own glasses?  I have optical solutions to minimize the risk of an eye injury while guaranteeing clear, sharp vision with comfortably fitting frames.

As the workforce ages you will encounter more issues which are vision related. Specifically you'll see an increase in the number of employees using bifocals and computer/reading related eyewear. As a person ages; the bifocal power increases which affects the distance that an object may be seen clearly. Translated: employees will be getting closer to their work whether it's assembly, machine operation, welding, computers, and .......

Just last week I helped design safety glasses for an employee who worked at a near point of just 5 inches and his arms length task was at 22inches.  For this very reason I strongly recommend your employee utilize my vision discovery instrument WIDE. This should guarantee the employee’s doctor arrives at the prescription best for their work activity. Safety lenses are available to address every possible visual task you can imagine. My responsibility is designing the correct visual aid. If you have any questions regarding specific application prescriptions; please call my office at 708-686-5266





10 Common Computer Ergonomic mistakes

When you use a computer; you are interacting on 3 levels; visually, intellectually, and physically. The following ergonomic mistakes lead to physical discomfort and then pain. The 10 most common mistakes I observe:

Improper use of seating

            Instead of sitting with your shoulder blades firmly against the seat back; you are sitting on the front edge of the chair. The ergonomic seating is designed to maintain the human body in a neutral position. No excessive force is then placed upon the neck, shoulders, or back. When you sit on the front edge of the chair; your body has no support from the chair. Approximately 80% (according to NIOSH) of computer users report discomfort in the neck, shoulders and back

Document holder

            The human head weighs approximately 10 pounds. When you use a document holder (placed next to the monitor) and sitting properly in your chair; this is the ideal arrangement. But if you instead are leaning over a document lying flat on the work surface you are asking your neck and shoulders to support hundreds of pounds of force all day; everyday. For with each inch you lean forward the weight of your head doubles.

Phone cradle

            The human body is a complex machine with many sophisticated systems such as nerves and blood vessels. When you cradle a phone between your head and shoulder top you are compromising both the nerve and blood flows. Just like the kink in a water hose; the flow is reduced. Phone cradling can permanently interfere with the necks vital systems of nerves and blood vessels

Ninety degrees

            The neutral body position for computer users means maintaining the elbows and knees at 90 degrees. By keeping your feet flat on the floor (knees at 90 degrees) you avoid unnecessary force or pressure on your back. Elbows at 90 degrees translates into less chance of physical discomfort with your wrists, arms, and shoulders.

Straight ahead

            Viewing the monitor in a straight ahead manner reduces the unnecessary force on the neck and shoulders. Viewing a monitor with your head twisted to one side is not recommended.

Same plane

            The human arm weighs approximately 8 pounds. When your computer keyboard and mouse are on the same plane this is the best position for you. If one is placed on a  higher level, such as one on the desk top the other on a keyboard tray;  you’re asking your neck and shoulders to hold up hundreds of pounds of force throughout the day; everyday

Wrist rests

            Wrist rests are just that. A place to rest when not operating the keyboard or mouse. Too often I observe computer users pressing downward upon the wrist rests while keying or clicking. This constant downward pressure will ultimately lead to difficulties with the wrist. Keep your wrists above the rest while keying or clicking and use the wrist rest when you stop.

Can you see me

            When you have difficulty viewing what is on the monitor you will adjust your body position in order to see. I observe computer users leaning to get closer to the monitor or if they wear bifocals they are tipping their heads upwards. Remember you are viewing a pixel, a projection, and the words are not as sharp when compared to a printed page. When you use a computer have your eyes examined annually and bring your responses to our vision discovery instrument. Be sure to follow our guidelines for the best colors . Without the correct prescription you will reduce your accuracy by as much as 9% and your productivity by 38%.

Dancing feet

            There is no reason you can’t stretch your legs, cross legs, or adjust your feet’s position. But maintaining your feet flat (knees at 90 degrees) reduces the likelihood of unnecessary forces on your back. Stretching is okay. Sitting on top your leg or feet on top of the chair pedestal; bad.

Empty chair

            When you sit for longs periods of time you place stress on your spine, blood can pool in your legs, and your body needs occasional breaks. So organize your day so you can create rest breaks for your body. Make phone calls, attend meetings, walk over to discuss points with a coworker. Remember to get out of the chair throughout the work day.


When I am called to help an employee who’s experiencing physical difficulties repeatedly I will observe the same ergonomic missteps. Overworking the human body by avoiding good computer ergonomics ultimately leads to the day when discomfort becomes pain. Follow the guidelines we recommend to avoid the physical discomforts associated with computer use.  Remember repetitive stress injuries are cumulative.




Vision Xperts

613 S. 2nd St. St. Charles, IL 60174   708-686-5266  Fax: 630-443-4823