March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month. According to EHSToday, This dedication is intended to “educate corporations and their employees on the importance of vision health, including warning signs of potential eye [health concerns] and safety tips on how to avoid vision-threatening eye accidents.” While eye injury may seem like a distant concern, it’s more common than many think.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), over 2,000 Americans suffer an eye injury every day. Nearly a third of these injuries require an emergency room visit, and it’s estimated that nearly 1 million Americans have experienced some vision loss due to eye injury. Many assume that work-related eye injuries involve some form of trauma, and while those do happen, computer vision syndrome may be the most common form of work-related eye injury today.
Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer vision syndrome (CVS), also known as digital eye strain, is an emerging health issue that causes ocular symptoms by looking at any digital screen for excessive periods of time, typically longer than 2 hours. There is no one symptom that categorizes CVS, but common symptoms include:
- Eye strain
- Tired eyes
- Dry eyes
- Blurry and/or double vision
- A pulling sensation in the eyes
- Occasional headaches
- Back, neck, and shoulder pain
- Poor sleep
While this is a newer eye health concern due to screen time becoming more common during 8-hour work/school days, perhaps it’s more concerning because screen time typically doesn’t stop after office hours or outside the classroom. Many people go home and continue to use their devices for socializing, unwinding, and even more work! With these added hours, experts are concerned about the accumulation of screen time and what that really means for eye health down the road.
Protect Their Eyes At Work…and Home
So how do you help patients assess their environment and get the proper protection? Below are some helpful tips for incorporating the workplace eye wellness conversation into your patient’s visit.
Wear the Proper Protection
Ninety percent of all eye injuries are avoidable by simply wearing the proper certified and approved eye protection. Encourage patients to wear the proper protection their job requires, whether it’s goggles, safety glasses, masks, hats, or maybe blue light glasses.
Assess and Set Up the Environment
In some professions, eye safety and wellness consist of making sure an environment is free of potential hazards. For others, it’s making sure the hazards are minimized through workplace safety protocols. Encouraging patients to follow the procedures set forth by their company will help ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
When it comes to CVS, there are a few ways that patients can mitigate the effects of prolonged screen time:
- Adjust the lighting surrounding the screen. It should match the brightness of the screen and not cause any glare.
- Adjust the setup:
- Screen should be about an arm’s length away and slightly below eye level.
- Arms should rest comfortably at a 45-degree angle.
- Chair should support the back and neck and encourage good posture.
- Utilize screen covers/protectors.
- Several companies have created screen covers to help reduce glare and eye strain.
- Utilize the 20-20-20 rule.
- Every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Consciously blink more.
- The eyes don’t fully blink when looking at screens, so encourage patients to think through the blink can help our eyes from feeling dried out.
- Support their eyes’ natural protection against screen time.
- Taking a daily eye vitamin can help naturally support the eyes during lengthy screen time. EyePromise® Screen Shield™ Pro has been specifically designed to do just that. It contains critical carotenoids like zeaxanthin and lutein to protect the retinal cells responsible for crisp, clear vision. It’s also been formulated to include ingredients directly proven to reduce screen time symptoms like tired, strained eyes.
Explain to patients that if there is a workplace eye emergency, they need to take immediate action. They should NOT rub the eye or try to remove a foreign object, and they need to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Vision is an important piece of almost everyone’s job. Protecting our eyes and observing eye health wellness in the workplace are imperative to prolonging healthy sight.