The use of digital devices, including personal computers, tablets and cell phones, continues to increase. And, the impact of
prolonged usage can often be felt in the eye. In fact, because of extended use of these devices, close to 70 percent of American adults experience some form of digital eyestrain, according to a new report from The Vision Council. Symptoms of digital eyestrain can include dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches.
To highlight the central role computers and smartphones play for the modern workforce, Prevent Blindness, the nation’s oldest volunteer eye health and safety group, has declared March Workplace Eye Wellness Month. The goal is to provide employers and employees with free information on topics ranging from eyestrain to industrial eye safety in order to promote eye health at work.
Office workers can take a few simple steps to help prevent eyestrain and fatigue. Prevent Blindness suggests:
- Visit an eye doctor for a dilated eye exam to make sure you are seeing clearly and to detect any potential vision issues.
- Place your screen 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and a little bit below eye level.
- Use a document holder placed next to your computer screen. It should be close enough so you don’t have to swing your head back and forth or constantly change your eye focus.
- Adjust the text size on the screen to a comfortable level.
- Change your lighting to lower glare and harsh reflections. Glare filters over your computer screen can also help.
- Use a chair you can adjust.
- Choose screens that can tilt and swivel. A keyboard that you can adjust is also helpful.
- The Vision Council recommends the 20-20-20 break: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
Prevent Blindness also strongly recommends the use of eye protection in the workplace, especially in industries such as construction, manufacturing, or any profession where eye accidents and injuries may occur. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2012, there were 20,300 recorded occupational eye injuries that resulted in days away from work.
Prevent Blindness offers two workplace programs. The Healthy Eyes Educational Series is a free program from Prevent Blindness that provides user-friendly, downloadable modules to conduct formal presentations or informal one-on-one sessions, including one entitled “Work Safety.” Each module includes a Presentation Guide and corresponding PowerPoint presentation on a relevant eye health topic such as adult eye disorders, eye anatomy, healthy living, low vision and various safety topics. Fact sheets can be downloaded at any time from the Prevent Blindness website for use as handouts to accompany the presentation.
Prevent Blindness also offers Eye2Eye, a web-based educational resource that trains employees to communicate the importance of eye health and safety to each other, increases eye safety compliance and builds a stronger culture of safety in the workplace. The program features a peer-based, interactive curriculum and community-oriented forum enabling end-users to share their learnings and best practices with each other.
“Taking care of our eyes should be a job we perform around the clock,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “By protecting our eyes at work and at home, we can help stay healthy and productive for years to come!”