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Visual Fatigue

Last updated: September 3, 2019

What Does Visual Fatigue Mean?

Visual fatigue (also known as eye fatigue) is an umbrella term that refers to an array of conditions or symptoms experienced by individuals who perform tasks requiring extended visual concentration or focus.

The symptoms of visual fatigue are many and include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred or reduced vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Difficulty maintaining visual focus
  • Eye pain

The International Classification of Diseases classifies visual fatigue under the terms visual discomfort, asthenopia, eye strain, and photophobia.

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Safeopedia Explains Visual Fatigue

Visual fatigue has been recognized as an occupational health risk for decades. Early occupational health experts noted that lighting engineers faced a difficult task in ensuring that office workers would be able to do their work for extended periods without suffering negative physical effects. The rise of computer screens in the workplace - which shine lights directly into the eyes of their users - increased the risk of visual fatigue.

In office settings, occupational health experts recommend that employees take frequent short breaks to allow their eyes to relax and prevent visual fatigue. Workplace stress has also been shown to exacerbate the risk of visual fatigue in workers and may increase the need for intermittent eye rest in order to avoid strains.

Individuals working in other industries with poorly lit conditions or other factors that cause eye stress - such as obstructive personal protective eyewear - are also at risk for visual fatigue. In such cases, visual fatigue may exacerbate existing occupational health risks, as it limits the sufferer’s effective ability to watch for potential workplace hazards. Studies also show that visual fatigue impedes balance, which increases worker risk in areas that may contain fall hazards or otherwise require precise movement.



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