There’s a considerable amount of attention paid to health and safety in the workplace, particularly to elements such as accident prevention and ensuring employees have a comfortable work environment. Surprisingly however, not nearly as much attention is paid to protecting our eyes, despite them being a crucial to our ability to work.
This is particularly pertinent for those who work with computers, with digital eye strain becoming an increasingly common cause of time off work, lost productivity and general ill health. Symptoms of this condition can include neck and back ache, headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and general irritation of the eyes, which can often prevent employees from working with computers until they’re fully recovered.
So how can we look after our eyes at work? Luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re properly looking after your eyes and vision:
Dry eyes are a common problem for millions of people worldwide, but you can limit the likelihood of developing dry eyes by ensuring you’re properly hydrated. Aim to drink several bottles of water every day if possible, and you should note a drop in the frequency of dry, irritated eyes, as well as a general improvement in overall health and wellbeing.
Ensure you wear corrective lenses, or get regular eye tests
I’ve regularly worked with people who are prescribed corrective lenses, but don’t always wear them when they’re working at a computer. Similarly, don’t neglect your prescribed lenses when you head out for lunch or on a break, and if you opt for shades during the summer, make sure you have the correct prescription sunglasses (rather than just a standard, store-bought pair). Whether you need corrective lenses or not, be sure to get regular eye tests (once every year is recommended) and that you follow up with any advice given to you by a vision professional.
Take a short break, every 20 minutes
Every 20 minutes you’re working with a computer, take a 20 second break and focus on something around 20 feet away. This is known as the 20-20-20 rule, and can help relax your eyes and prevent the development of digital eye strain.
Wear protective eyewear when appropriate
Whether you’re working with machinery, irritant chemicals or with computers, if it’s recommended that protective eyewear then ensure you do at all times. Eye injuries due to debris, dust or irritants are a common reason for hospital admission, and can be easily avoided by ensuring the correct eyewear is worn when appropriate.
Listen to your body
You can dramatically decrease the likelihood of damaging your eyes by simply listening to your body and acting accordingly. If you find you’re regularly getting headaches, you may need corrective lenses. If you find you’re having to strain your eyes frequently, you may need to reposition your screen or replace your chair.