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How to Maintain Eye Health at the Workplace

Dry eyes. Eye strain. Blurred vision. Headaches. Sound familiar?

For the average American in 2018, almost 11 hours a day are spent looking at a glowing square or rectangle — a 1-hour jump up from 2017. From smartphones and tablets to laptops and desktops, we’re spending more and more time on more and more devices at home and at work, and our eyes are feeling the effects.

Less screen time is better for your eye health.

Most of us have at least heard about the scientific research on how excessive screen time can negatively affect overall health. And we’re familiar with the idea that limiting computer and TV time can improve sleep, school performance and behavior in children, as demonstrated in the 2014 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics.

But even as we encourage our young ones to log off more often for their health, we tend to forget how much tech time we as adults subject ourselves to on the job, and how it directly affects our eye health and safety.

Fortunately, we can protect our eyes and avoid common eye issues we experience at work just by making a few adjustments to our lifestyles and work environment.

Learn about reducing eye strain and making healthy vision a priority with this invaluable guide, courtesy of our experts here at Perrysburg Eye Center!

Common Eye Problems at Work

Fact: More than 10 million eye doctor visits a year are connected to Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), with symptoms including eye strain, eye irritation, eye fatigue, blurred vision, and dry, itchy eyes.

The good news? All our gawking at lit screens usually shouldn’t cause any permanent harm to our eyeballs, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AOA).

The bad news? Many of these annoying yet seemingly minor troubles our eyes experience with all this tech time can become more than a nuisance, with potential significant health problems if left untreated.

Sources of eye discomfort at work include:

Digital devices play a larger role in our lives than ever before, even in the classroom. But it’s important to limit screen exposure, which often leads to:

  • Room lighting producing glare
  • Surroundings devoid of color and lighting variety
  • Extended staring at an object at a fixed distance
  • Additional demands on the eye for viewing digital screens
  • Preexisting vision issues gone untreated

You know the saying: “Better safe than sorry.” Do yourself a favor and learn a few tips and tricks for treating your eyes right while at the workplace.

Tips for Reducing Eye Strain at Your Job

1. Adjust office lighting.

There are quite a few easy ways to make things a little easier for your eyes while working. For starters, if you’re lucky and have some control over your office lighting, try dimming or filtering overhead lighting, and incorporate as much natural light as possible (full-spectrum bulbs achieve a natural effect). You can also use a soft-light lamp to avoid the glare of overhead fluorescents.

And keep an eye on the time of day and where your windows are in relation to you: the glare from the sun is worse at different points throughout the workday, so you don’t want to be directly facing toward the window.

2. Fix the brightness settings on your screens.

If making changes to your office’s lighting is a no-go, you still have some viable options for steering clear of eye strain. A quick fix most of us forget is to turn down the brightness on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet (and TV!) to something easy on the eyes while still allowing readability.

Another easy change? Increase the character size on your phone and computer to a comfortable level, so you don’t have to lean in and squint.

3. Block blue light our electronic devices emit.

Blue light, emitted by both our digital devices and the sun, is a common cause of headaches and eye strain. Quick physics 101 lesson: We wear sunglasses to block ultraviolet rays (UV) — the invisible, high-energy radiation from sunlight. The next highest energy radiation comes in the form of blue-violet light (HEV), also known as blue light, which is visible — and roughly ⅓ of all visible light is considered blue light. It’s what makes the sky appear blue!

There are a few benefits of blue light, like promoting some vitamin D production in the body. But our eyes aren’t great at filtering it out, so long-term exposure to it leaves your eyes susceptible to changes resembling macular degeneration, potentially leading to permanent vision damage or loss.

The more we use blue-light-emitting devices, the more we’re putting our eyes at risk, which is why we should:

  1. Use plugins or settings on our screens like Apple’s Night Shift or Android’s night mode to filter out harmful blue light
  2. Wear lenses, like Crizal Prevencia, that reduce glare and filter out harmful blue light while still letting beneficial blue light in. These and other prescription computer glasses are available in our optical shop!

4. Take breaks with the 20-20-20 Rule.

This one’s simple: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

PRO TIP: Use your phone to set a reminder to pop up every 20 minutes. We can’t completely eliminate technology from our lives, so why not use it to our advantage and remind us to give our eyes a break?

5. Eat healthy foods and stay hydrated.

Incorporating eye-healthy foods into your diet — those high in zinc, vitamins C and E, and omega-3s (think leafy greens, citrus fruits and fish) — can help keep your eyeballs in tiptop shape, and drinking lots of water hydrates your eyes.

The average person blinks up to 18 times per minute, but less than half that when in front of a screen, which irritates the eyes. When you blink, tears moisten your corneas, keeping your eyes healthy and in working order. Remembering to blink, getting your daily dose of water and lubricating your eyes with artificial tears occasionally if needed will help combat dry eyes!

6. Wear safety eyewear.

There are glasses that filter blue light and reduce glare to help prevent eye maladies due to screens. But not all eye issues are computer-related. Some jobs, by their very nature, put your eyes at risk. And workplace eye injuries are frequent — nearly 2,000 American workers a day experience injuries on the job necessitating medical treatment.

From cornea scrapes and chemical burns to infrared exposure and flying foreign objects, your eyes are potentially in peril if you’re working a higher-risk job without wearing eye protection — or wearing the wrong kind.

3 out of 5 workers who sustain eye injuries on the job aren’t wearing eye protection.

Many eye hazards can be avoided when you wear goggles, safety glasses or face shields. Ask your employer about conducting a workplace eye hazard assessment and eyewear requirements, and visit our optical shop in Perrysburg to learn about the best options for how you can get and use appropriate protective eyewear.

7. Schedule regular eye checkups.

Who knew something so routine could save your life? It’s more than just reading some letters off the wall. When you get an eye exam, your eye doctor is able to establish your health baseline and identify health risks — no matter how young or old you are. For most working adults, scheduling a regular exam every 2 years should be adequate to make sure your eyes are getting the proper care they need.

Get more information about quality eyewear and eye care by calling Perrysburg Eye Center at (419) 874-3125, schedule your first visit as a patient, and make sure to stop by our optical shop!

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Perrysburg, Ohio 43551
(419) 874-3125

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