Staring at a screen all day is an unnatural activity. After sitting at a computer during a long work week, many workers complain of headaches and eye strain. Repetitive stress on the eye muscles can be painful and disabling. In some cases, job-related eye strain may be eligible for Illinois workers’ compensation.

What leads to repetitive eye strain?

Long-term exposure to computer monitors or other electronic displays causes a number of reactions in the human eye. An employee’s eyes function less efficiently when they are focused on a terminal and not given the chance to fixate on objects in the middle distance.

People who spend time at computer workstations tend to blink less often and ignore the telltale signs of work-related eye strain. According to the American Optometric Association, the natural blink rate of workers may decrease by up to 42 percent while using a computer. Intense concentration can also cause involuntary widening of the eyes and stress on eye muscles.

Symptoms of eye strain

The symptoms of eye strain may include all or some of the following:

  • Visual fatigue
  • Pain while focusing on detailed work
  • Double vision
  • Itchy or burning eyes
  • Inability to track moving objects

These symptoms can cause severe difficulties for office employees and other professionals who need to spend time on detailed work. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the average worker must sit at least 20 inches from all monitors to avoid the danger of computer-related eye strain.

Workers’ compensation for eye strain

Employees who have suffered severe eye strain on the job may have a strong case for Illinois workers’ compensation. When a person is completely or partially unable to earn wages because of a job-related injury, Illinois law provides for the possibility of workers’ compensation to cover the loss in pay. Disabling eye strain falls into this category.

Documenting eye strain

Before making a workers’ compensation claim, employees with eye strain should document their case carefully. Make sure that all computer-related activities are covered by expert medical testimony. Workers should also be careful about recreational activities. A 39-year-old data entry employee was recently denied compensation for eye strain after his social media account revealed that he had spent more than 50 hours playing online games during the week preceding the claim.

Have you been afflicted with severe eye strain because of work activities? You have the right to seek Illinois workers’ compensation. You may wish to consider meeting with an attorney to discuss the details of your case.