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Maintaining Eye Health at Work

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month! We all know how important it is to maintain healthy vision outside of work, but this month is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of maintaining healthy vision in your workplace.

No matter what kind of job or profession you have, your eye health should be a priority. Depending on your job, eye wellness in the workplace could mean practicing proper screen usage or using protective eyewear. Individuals that work full-time spend almost 25% of their lives at their job! That is why maintaining healthy vision at work is essential to maintaining healthy vision throughout your life.

Screen Usage

In today’s world, many jobs require the use of computers, tablets, or other digital devices. Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve seen an influx of jobs that require 5+ hours per day in front of a computer screen. Working in front of a screen for multiple hours per day can lead to problematic symptoms including headache, blurred vision, dry eyes, eye strain, and even neck and shoulder pain. We call the onset of these symptoms Computer Vision Syndrome.

If your job requires you to work in front of a screen for more than 3 hours per day, implementing these few tips can help to prevent the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome-

  • Visit your eye doctor and get a pair of prescription computer glasses which are specifically designed to reduce the eye strain associated with computer use by reducing glare, blocking bluelight, and magnifying text if needed.
  • Ensure proper lighting in your workspace to reduce reflections and glare on your screen.
  • Make sure your screen is properly placed at least 20 inches away from your eyes and is at or slightly below eye level.
  • Give your eyes a break! Practice the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away.

Eye Protection

In industries like construction, manufacturing, and healthcare, physical injuries to the eye are much more common. According to the CDC, approximately 2,000 U.S. workers sustain a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment each day. The four most common types of eye injuries are – 

Penetration: A sharp object like a nail, staple, wood sliver, or metal shard gets stuck in or goes through the eye causing permanent vision loss.

Striking or scraping: Small particles like saw dust, metal slivers, or dirt are stirred up by tools or wind and scratch the surface of the eye causing irritation and blurred vision. Scrapes can also be caused by flying objects, animals, or even people.

Chemical burns: The splashing of liquid chemicals or the exposure of the eye to chemicals in gas form can cause chemical burns in the eyes.

Thermal burns: Thermal burns damage eyes and eyelids, resulting in them being a common injury among welders.

In the US, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has laid out requirements for eye protection in certain industries. If you work in construction, landscaping, manufacturing, or other related industries, it is important to follow these requirements and use proper protection. Doing so will protect your eyes against chemical, environmental, radiological, or mechanical irritants and hazards.

PPE (personal protective equipment) can help to reduce or even eliminate the risk of eye injuries at work. When it comes to eye protection, there are various types of PPE that can be used depending on an individual’s job. These include – 

  • Goggles or safety glasses
  • Face shields and welding helmets
  • Full-face respirators

What You Can Do

So what can you do to ensure health vision at work?

Use this month as a reminder of and a reset for your habits. Take a look at your screen time or remind yourself of the correct PPE usage for your position and make a plan of action to improve!

Work with your employer to understand the resources available to you within your workplace.

Be an advocate for eye health! Speak up if you see something unusual or unsafe.

Are you an employer? Check out this helpful checklist of items you can implement to ensure a working environment that encourages eye health.

Looking for more information on this topic? We encourage you to read The Impact Screens Have on Our (and Our Children’s) Vision.