The theme of World Sight Day 2023, which took place last month on 12 October 2023, was “Love Your Eyes at Work”, issuing a call for employers to prioritize the eye health of workers across all workplace settings.
According to the recently-released Eye Health and the World of Work report, in 2020, around 143 million working-age people had moderate to severe vision impairment while another 18 million were experiencing blindness.
The report breaks the most common eye-related hazards into four categories, out of which ergonomic has been identified as the biggest threat to eye health of office workers with desk jobs. The main issue is static computer use leading to computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain.
The pandemic could have aggravated this problem, as the switch to more virtual meetings over physical ones is here to stay, increasing the amount of screen time at work.
Working from home is also leading to more eyesight problems as we tend to order in and eat lunch with our eyes glued to gadgets or computer screens rather than eating out with colleagues – and giving our eyes some rest from the screen.
In certain sectors such as construction, the use of virtual reality, along with augmented reality and mixed reality tools is becoming increasingly commonplace. According to research, prolonged exposure to high resolution VR environments without normal blinking can cause digital eye strain and fatigue.
But protecting our eyesight at work is not just our employer’s responsibility. We can take steps to maintain good eye health at the workplace too. Here are five ways to build good habits at work for the benefit of your eyes.
#1 Go for regular eye check-ups
Even if your vision seems normal, it is advisable to go for regular checks to ensure your eyes are healthy. As we age, our eyes become more susceptible to damage and disease so preventive maintenance is key.
An eye examination will help with early detection and treatment to slow down or even reverse the progression of eye diseases. If you are aged between 20 to 39, it is advisable to have a comprehensive eye examination if you have a family history of eye disease. When you reach the age of 40, you should get a baseline eye disease screening and seek the doctor’s advice on the frequency of follow-up screenings.
#2 Take frequent breaks from screens to rest your eyes
Studies show that eye strain can be reduced by taking a minimum of four five-minute breaks a day, in addition to a 30-minute lunch break. If you do not have the luxury of getting away from your desk that frequently, the alternative is to exercise your eyes.
Use the 20-20-20 rule as a guide. Gaze at an object that is about 20 feet away from you every 20 minutes for about 20 seconds. This is an effective way to relax your eye muscles and keep your eyes alert for a longer time.
#3 Make wise decisions on your lighting solutions
With so much time spent indoors at our workstations at the office or at home, the type of lighting used at these spaces can greatly impact our eye health. Poor artificial lighting can lead to eye discomfort, along with disturbed sleep patterns and even headaches.
It is crucial to choose lights that are designed to be easy on our eyes such as the Philips EyeComfort. It is a range of LEDs that conform to a set of standards that impact the comfort of our eyes. Remember that not all LEDs are created equal. With Philips LEDs, you can enjoy minimum flickering, stroboscopic effect, glare and blue light while working.
The tunability of EyeComfort LEDs also allows you to adjust the color temperature to suit different times of the day while its dimmability enables you to enjoy a gentle solution for your eyes. The LEDs also eliminate audible noise produced by some other types of LEDs, letting you work without any distractions.
#4 Optimize your desk orientation and set-up
Many of us like to face our windows when working to enjoy the view. However, the glare from the light outside could strain our eyes. It is better to move your monitor away from the window or use blinds or curtains to reduce light penetration.
Another important factor is the position of your computer monitor, which should ideally be between 50 to 71 cm from your face. If you find it harder to read with the screen being further away, you can increase the size of the text. Also consider using an anti-glare screen to further reduce eye strain.
#5 Stay active, hydrated, and eat healthy
You should also strengthen your vascular system for optimal retinal health by exercising regularly, adopting healthy sleeping habits, staying hydrated and keeping a healthy balanced diet. This is crucial for effectively delivering oxygen and nutrients to the retina. Consume fruits and vegetables containing high volumes of vitamins A, C and E and minerals such as zinc and omega-3 fatty acids as they also support eye health.
These simple steps could go a long way when it comes to protecting your eyes. Take action to love your eyes at work so that you will enjoy good vision and quality of life for many years to come.