March – Workplace Eye Wellness

Other than home, the place we spend the most time is at work. It’s the place we go to utilize our skills, talents, and training to provide for our families. While a great deal of fulfillment comes from work, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the workplace can be dangerous and the eyes are no exception.

When we think of workplace eye injuries, we most often think of traumatic events. Each year there are over 20,000 workplace eye injuries, often requiring one or more days for recovery. According to OSHA, the injuries cost an estimated $300 million a year in lost productivity, medical treatment, and worker compensation. Common causes include flying objects, chemicals, tools, particles, and blunt trauma.

While not as severe, a more common source of eye injury is related to computers and other electronic devices we use in everyday life. Too much screen time without regular breaks can cause headaches, neck aches, back issues, and dry eye, often referred to as computer vision syndrome. Additionally, computer screens, tablets, and smartphones emit blue-violet light which can be harmful to our eyes. Fortunately, there are ways we can lessen these symptoms.

1)    Make sure the computer screen is positioned at a comfortable height, away from direct light sources, and with an antiglare screen if necessary.

2)    Remember the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

3)    Studies have shown that when we concentrate on something we tend not to blink as often which can cause our eyes to become dry. Focusing on maintaining a normal blink rate, resting our eyes periodically and using artificial tear drops can be beneficial.

4)    Utilize blue light filters in our glasses to filter out the harmful blue light without impeding the beneficial blue light.

5)    Regular comprehensive eye exams can help us diagnose any underlying eye problems which contribute to computer vision syndrome.

While the workplace does have potential dangers to the eyes, a few simple precautions can lessen our risks. Being aware of eye safety issues, eliminating them before starting work, and using proper protection can make the workplace a much happier environment.

By Edward Attaway, O.D.

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