How to Maintain Workplace Eye Health

Oct 23, 2018

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

Last year, the average American spent almost 11 hours a day 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 time on more devices, at home and at work.

And our eyes are feeling the effects.

Less screen time = better 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 the 2014 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics shows.

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.

{Brush up on the 14 Vital Healthy Vision Facts You Should Know.)

Fortunately, you can protect your eyes and avoid common eye issues you experience at work — just by making a few adjustments to your lifestyle and work environment.

Common Eye Problems at Work

More than 10 million visits to the eye doctor each year are connected to Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Symptoms include:

  • Eyestrain
  • Eye irritation
  • Eye fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • 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.

Screen exposure can lead to

  • Room lighting producing glare,
  • Surroundings becoming devoid of color and lighting variety,
  • Extended staring at an object at a fixed distance,
  • Additional demands on the eye for viewing digital screens,
  • And preexisting vision issues going untreated.

You know the saying: Better safe than sorry. Do yourself a favor and learn 7 ways you can put workplace eye health into practice.

7 Easy Tips for Reducing Eye Strain at Your Job

1. Adjust office lighting.

For starters, if you’re lucky and have some control over your office lighting, try dimming or filtering overhead lighting. Also, 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,
  • Tablet,
  • TV,
  • And any other device

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.

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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. That’s why, instead, 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.

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?

Remember, this is just as helpful for children as it is for adults. With the increase in digital technology, more people are reporting physical discomfort after extended screen time.

See more stats on the impact of digital technology from The Vision Council.

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 activities, by their very nature, put your eyes at risk.

That’s why, for example, wearing protective sports eyewear is essential (especially for kids).

And then there are jobs where 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.

For a list of jobs with elevated eye injury risk and recommended protective eyewear to counter those risks, check out this handout from The Vision Council, “Eye Safety At a Glance: Protecting Your Vision at Work.”

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.

Schedule your eye exam with Perrysburg Eye Center today!