You can improve your stamina and well-being by protecting your eyes in the workplace.
70% of working professionals suffer from eyestrain, according to the Vision Council. Digital eyestrain has become such an issue that the group now sponsors Workplace Eye Wellness Month to bring attention to the problem.
Working adults aren’t the only ones who face the risk of contracting digital eyestrain. For example, a 2018 Pew Research Center study reveals that 70% of teens check their smartphones as soon as they wake up.
In an always-on world, eye care is vital for everyone. By learning about eye care in the digital age, you can improve your well-being as well as that of your family.
Eyestrain in the Workplace
It seems like some things never change. As it turns out, your parents were right when they warned you not to sit so close to the television or chided you for watching too much of it. Now, your parents have scientific research to back up their warnings.
Today, excessive exposure to digital devices is the top cause of eyestrain. The condition is called computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain, according to the guidelines of the American Optometric Association (AOA).
Professionals who spend two hours or more looking at a computer screen are at the highest risk of contracting CVS. People experience more eyestrain when using digital devices compared to reading print materials because they blink less while reading, and blinking is how humans moisten and soothe their eyes.
Also, people can suffer eyestrain because they fail to think about ergonomics. For instance, you can subject yourself to eyestrain by viewing screens at an uncomfortable angle. Also, glare and reflections can contribute to eyestrain as well as poor screen contrast.
An existing eye condition can also contribute to computer vision syndrome. For instance, a person may suffer from CVS due to an eye muscle imbalance or an undiagnosed vision problem.
Give Yourself a Break
The best thing that you can do to prevent eyestrain is to look away from the screen intermittently. For instance, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that office workers follow the 20-20-20 rule: three times an hour, workers should look at an object that’s 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Also, recommends the AAO, you should apply drops when your eyes feel dry. You can also take steps to reduce digital eye strain in between breaks. For instance, you can reduce the brightness of your screen until your eyes feel comfortable. You should do the same for your personal devices as well.
Finally, if your work involves heavy reading, invest in an e-reader. Studies show that e-readers subject the eyes to considerably less fatigue.
Protecting Your Eyes on the Job
Computer vision syndrome can lead to headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and other symptoms. To prevent CVS, the American Optometric Association recommends that consumers visit their optometrist for yearly eye exams.
A mild eyeglass prescription can minimize digital stress. An optometrist can provide you with a prescription especially for working on your computer. According to the AOA, even people who do not require glasses for other activities may need them to work on a computer.
The AOA concurs with other optometry experts that giving your eyes a break from the screen is the best way to reduce your risk of digital fatigue. Also, workers who use computers should situate their monitor 16 to 30 inches away from their eyes with the top of the monitor just below eye level.
Furthermore, computer workers should reduce their environmental lighting. For example, recommend optometrists, digital professionals should try to create a work environment with about half the light of a typical office. You can do this by removing light bulbs from fixtures. You can also close shades or blinds if necessary.
Too often, employees spend too much time working and not enough time caring for themselves. Many of the nation’s professionals have trouble maintaining a balance between life and work. Case in point, United States workers rank 30th out of 38 countries in work-life balance.
By taking care of your eyes, you can reduce the days you need to call out of work due to fatigue. Furthermore, you’ll improve your physical and mental well-being.
By taking a few precautions to protect your eyes and health, you just may improve your long-term career outlook.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.