Many office dwellers who work in front of computers for extended periods of time know there are unintended health consequences like increased risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease that come with 40+ hours of sitting each week. However, individuals with computer-oriented jobs often neglect to understand how a constant use of technology can impact eyesight and vision health.
Too much screen time can result in a temporary discomfort known as digital eye strain, which is characterized as the temporary physical eye discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a screen. Marked by symptoms such as red eye, irritated or dry eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, back and neck pain and headaches, digital eye strain isn’t the result of one single issue —several environmental factors can contribute to it, including personal vision health, posture, lighting and personal device use habits.
A new report from The Vision Council finds nearly one-third of adults (30%) spend more than half their waking hours (9+) staring at digital devices and a majority of Americans experience symptoms of digital eye strain as a result.
Faced with hours at the computer, coupled with harsh LED or fluorescent lighting that emit blue light, office environments are increasingly becoming hot spots for digital eye strain. It has been estimated that as many as 70 to 75 percent of computer workers experience eye discomfort from high screen use.
The good news is that our workforce doesn’t have to live with this discomfort and can utilize tools and techniques to protect eyes. Computer eyewear is designed to increase individuals’ field of view, bring mid-distance objects into focus, reduce reflection from indoor and outdoor lighting and absorb blue light.
In addition to computer eyewear, below are some other tips that can help relieve digital eye strain in the office:
- Remember the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from the screen and look at something 20 feet away.
- Build an optimal workspace to mitigate outside stressors like lighting, screen glare and computer set-up.
- Increase the text size on your devices to better define the content on your screen.
Preventative eye care, like an annual comprehensive eye exam, can help preserve vision and identify other health issues early on in disease progression ensuring lifelong vision health. If you have digital eye strain, your eye care provider can discuss eyewear options or lifestyle changes to protect eyes. By taking action, individuals can enhance their vision when using digital devices.
For better or for worse, digital devices have changed the way we receive and process information. It is important that human resources professionals recognize the toll prolonged use of technology has on vision, employee productivity and health and understand solutions are available to address this emerging health issue in the workplace.