Many organizations across the United States celebrate Workplace Eye Wellness Month in March. However, with so many employees spending hours in front of a digital screen, there is a special need to address eye-related issues at the workplace every day of every month.
As an employer, taking care of your employees is critical to managing a successful company. Workplace eye care is essential for employee well-being and continuous productivity.
Companies typically provide health insurance to their regular employees, but this may not be enough to support good eye health. Employers must be more proactive in raising eye health awareness and maintaining healthy vision among employees.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the ways you can help your employees prevent digital eye strain and keep their eyes healthy.
1. Offer Good Vision Benefits
Some organizations may see vision coverage as an optional incentive, but employees today regard it as an essential benefit. It is a critical part of a comprehensive benefits package, helping improve employee retention while promoting eye health.
Encouraging employees to have a yearly eye exam is one of the most effective means of preserving good vision. An optometrist will examine your employees’ eyes and possibly identify early signs of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease that might otherwise go undetected. Routine eye exams can also help prevent eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration from causing irreversible vision loss or blindness.
2. Practice the 20/20/20 Rule and Other Eye Exercises
Staring at a computer screen all day can be taxing on your eyes. Computer vision syndrome (CVS), also known as digital eye strain, is caused by excessive screen time, exposure to intense light or glare, or poor lighting. Aside from computers, many employees also frequently use smaller devices such as mobile phones during their hectic workday, exacerbating vision-related problems.
Here are some basic exercises you can introduce to your employees to help ease digital eye strain:
Take a 20-second break from your screen every 20 minutes and fix your gaze on anything at least 20 feet away.
Inadequate blinking is one of the primary causes of computer-related eye strain. Blink every four or five seconds to keep your eyes sufficiently lubricated. While this may seem like a simple task, it can be difficult to remember and do when you’re focused on your computer screen.
To begin this exercise, rub your hands together to produce some heat. Then close your eyes and cup one hand over each of your eyes. Allow the heat to penetrate your eyes for a calming effect.
Once every hour, sit back and take in your surroundings. Locate one object at one end of the room, then scan the outline of every object in the space.
3. Provide Good Lighting
Poor lighting can adversely affect job performance, quality—especially when precision is required—and overall productivity. Excessive or insufficient light can also lead to health and safety issues such as eye strain, fatigue, headaches, and accidents.
Many offices use overhead light fixtures as the primary source of light, but these generate glare or shadows. If the lights are flickering or are not bright enough, the problem gets much worse.
Office spaces benefit most from access to natural light. A study by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign shows that employees exposed to more natural light got longer and better sleep and a higher quality of life than those exposed to less natural light.
These are some of the ways you can increase your employees’ exposure to natural light:
- ● Use glass doors in private offices to prevent walls from obstructing light.
- ● Set up workstations around the office’s perimeter, within 20 feet of windows.
- ● Choose low-panel workstations to keep the space open and exposed to daylight.
4. Evaluate and Adjust Workspaces
Whether your employees work on-site or remotely, they likely spend hours in front of their computers. Prolonged screen time strains the eyes and causes issues such as headaches, blurred vision, and insufficient sleep. Remind employees to assess their workstations and help them identify risks to their eye health.
Recommend the following changes to their computer settings:
- ● Position your computer screen 20 to 24 inches away from your eyes.
- ● Lower screen brightness to reduce the amount of blue light that reaches the eyes.
- ● Choose sans-serif fonts and increase the text size to reduce eye strain.
5. Eliminate Potential Eye Hazards
Employees in non-office settings like construction sites and laboratories are exposed to dust, fumes, hazardous chemicals, bloodborne pathogens, and other particles, making them prone to eye injuries.
Remove possible eye hazards to lower the risk of work-related eye injuries. Whenever possible, look for safer alternatives to harmful chemicals and high-risk equipment. Ensure there is enough ventilation and humidification in dusty areas, and use exhaust hoods or extractor fans to help manage fumes or dust.
Put up eye safety posters, place barriers, and check all equipment operators follow user instructions and safety guidelines. Remind personnel who handle heavy machinery or work with toxic materials to wear appropriate eye protection. Conduct regular training sessions or workshops on eye safety to educate employees on eye care, potential eye hazards, and what to do in case of an injury.
Most eye-related problems in the workplace can be reduced or prevented with employer-sponsored vision benefits, eye exercises, proper lighting, correct workstation setup, and protective eyewear. By making small changes in workplace habits and design, employers and employees can work together to promote and maintain eye wellness.