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Visual fatigue

Visual fatigue occurs when certain eye muscles tighten during visually intense tasks, including continuously focusing on computer monitors. The tightening of the eye muscles can cause the eyes to become irritated and uncomfortable.

Other symptoms of visual fatigue include:

  • blurred vision
  • headaches.

Causes of visual fatigue

Contact centre workers can experience visual fatigue because their work involves:

  • using one or more computer monitors
  • tedious visual tasks that require the worker to focus on computer monitors for extended, uninterrupted periods of time.

Reducing visual fatigue

To reduce the risks of visual fatigue, employers can:

  • install adjustable monitors, keyboards, desktops, document holders, footrests, chairs and headsets
  • install high resolution visual display unit monitors and larger screens
  • install software that is easy to understand and operate
  • keep monitor screens free from glare and reflections by controlling ambient light conditions
  • position monitor to control glare and minimise reflections
  • reduce the dust in the work environment
  • encourage workers to use good work practices like:
    • adjust monitor brightness and contrast settings
    • keep the monitor screen clean, (that is free from dust and smears)
    • place reference material in the best position to maximise visual comfort
    • use appropriate font, font size and colours on monitors
    • exercise and stretch the eye muscles - this involves relaxing the eye muscles occasionally by looking away from the screen and focusing on a distant object
    • use pop-up reminders to prompt call handlers to look away
    • take regular and frequent breaks (in addition to scheduled and personal breaks) and do other tasks away from the computer screen
  • encourage workers to see an optometrist if they're having problems. This is especially important for those workers who wear multi-focal lenses.