Dont Let Computer Vision Syndrome Affect your Bottom Line

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Employers today look to the bottom line, and at ways to increase their companies' profits, much as they did at the beginning of last century when new methods of increasing workers' productivity were being introduced.

In today's information age, when an estimated 143 million Americans use computers at home and in the workplace, the symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) can be very costly. Progressive employers are increasingly becoming aware that their bottom line will suffer if those old principles of scientific management aren't applied to CVS.

Scientific management concerns itself, amongst other things, with poor ergonomics and fatigue as factors contributing to lower workforce productivity. These CVS-associated "invisibles", though, when brought to light, and remedial action taken, can help to boost a company's bottom line.

Sceptics might doubt the existence of such "invisibles" when frequently individuals themselves feel no symptoms. However, research has shown that even in such apparently symptomless cases, productivity increases when an appropriate refractive correction is made to the employee's vision.

So what can be done? Up until recently, the emphasis has mostly attributed the symptoms of CVS (headaches, eyestrain, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain) to poor ergonomic layout of the workstation. However, recent research has demonstrated the link between employees' vision problems and CVS, which, in turn, impacts negatively on the bottom line.

The virtues of computer glasses are now widely accepted. These have a larger intermediate zone to alleviate the strain on the eye muscles as they move from monitor to keyboard and back, constantly focusing and refocusing. In other words, they help relieve the repetitive strain injury (RSI) of the eye associated with CVS. More employers are now becoming convinced of the need to include computer glasses in their companies' vision plans.

Including computer glasses in these plans makes good economic sense. Often productivity increases come about not by injecting high levels of investment and capital, but by more intensive or more intelligent use of existing equipment. For relatively little expense, a few hundred dollars per employee to cover an eye examination and computer glasses, a company's bottom line can be substantially improved.

How does CVS lead to lower productivity? There are two major factors associated with CVS in the workplace which need to be addressed by employers. They are only too aware that less than optimal productivity can lead to a company's performance slipping behind that of their competitors.

The first factor is slowness of response. As we have seen, CVS could be described as the RSI of the eye, with all its implications for decreased efficiency. It has been shown that employees' performance can fall significantly if the amount of correction they need to eliminate the constant focusing and refocusing effort is not addressed.It seems paradoxical that, while employees' eyes might be working overtime, their overall work performance falls away.

The second important factor is the nature of the work undertaken by employees at their workstations. Many of the tasks employees perform at their computers are visually-demanding. Complex computer tasks, such as data entry, and those which involve document editing, accounting or engineering, place high demands on the eyes.

For these sorts of tasks lower productivity does not simply entail a straightforward "time costs money" approach. Accuracy is very important for these activities. Again, it has been demonstrated that improved accuracy will result from: accurately determining the amount of visual correction employees need, supplying them with computer glasses and allowing their eyes to relax when at the monitor.

This last point relates to another very important benefit of computer glasses and their effects on a company's bottom line. Wearing computer glasses in the workplace immediately raises the level of employees' quality of work life. Without these visual aids, it wouldn't just be the employees' eyes that are strained. Work can often become increasingly stressful for employees, who are more likely to seek compensation claims as a result.

Employers in industries, where color-critical decisions have to be made, have long been aware of the costs to their businesses of failure to detect color vision deficiency among their staff. Employers with large numbers of computer-using staff should be equally aware that neglecting the visual health of their employees, and ignoring the symptoms of CVS, hits their businesses bottom line as well. It certainly pays (but doesn't cost much!) for companies to invest in comprehensive vision care for their employees.
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