March is Workplace Eye Wellness and Safety Month.
When considering “eye wellness and safety” at work, many of us imagine an industrial setting with orange safety vests, hard hats, and protective goggles. Certainly, eye safety measures must be taken at industrial work sites, but all other workplaces must remain vigilant about increasing eye wellness and reducing injury hazards too.
HOW COMMON ARE WORK-RELATED EYE INJURIES?
Very common. More than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day. About 1 in 10 injuries require one or more missed workdays for recovery. Of the total amount of work-related injuries, 10-20 % will cause temporary or permanent vision loss. Experts believe that proper eye protection could lessen the severity —or even prevent— 90% of eye injuries that occur because of work accidents. *
Common causes for eye injuries in several work situations include:
- Flying objects (bits of metal, glass)
- Harmful radiation
- Any combination of these or other hazards
“I WORK IN AN OFFICE,” you might say. “WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT EYE INJURY?”
Believe it or not, for employees who utilize computers in their workplace, there are many eye-related concerns. While far less subtle than, say, flying debris, computer-related eye hazards can be just as dangerous to eye health over the course of time. With so many employees relying on a computer screen for their day-to-day functions, it’s no wonder computer eye strain has become a major job-related complaint. According to AllAboutVision.org, studies show that eye strain and other bothersome visual symptoms occur in 50 to 90 percent of computer workers. “Problems can range from physical fatigue, decreased productivity and increased numbers of work errors, to minor annoyances like eye twitching and red eyes,” the organization states.
An increasingly-common condition called COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME (CVS) is a growing concern for health care providers, employees and employers. CVS is a condition resulting from focusing the eyes on a computer or other display device for prolonged, uninterrupted periods of time. Some symptoms of CVS include headaches, blurred vision, neck pain, fatigue, eye strain, dry eyes, irritated eyes, double vision, vertigo/dizziness, polyopia (the perception of several visual images of one object), and difficulty refocusing the eyes. These symptoms can be further aggravated by improper lighting conditions such as glare or bright overhead lighting, or air moving past the eyes from overhead vents or a fan.
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES AGAINST COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME (CVS)
To decrease the chances of developing CVS, Snead Eye Group recommends the tried-and-true “20/20/20 Rule.” Here’s how it works: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
For added physical and mental health benefits, depending on your schedule and personal situation, incorporate body movements along with the “20/20/20 Rule” by moving around – preferably away from your computer screen! Take a water cooler break. Visit a coworker for a brief chat. Check the mail. Weather-permitting, get outside and make a brief call to a loved one. Whatever it takes, just get away from the computer for short intervals! Moving away from your workstation will reduce eye strain, increase alertness, and keep you performing at your best.
CALCULATING THE COST
From a humanitarian standpoint, most companies want their employees feeling good and living productive lives for their own sake. But also, from a financial standpoint for the sake of an employer, there’s a distinct business advantage to encouraging healthy eye practices. According to the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “Eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation.”
In summary, the more vision ailments employees have, the more medical care they may require, increasing healthcare-related expenses for both themselves and their employers. So, for your personal enjoyment of everyday life, and for the sake of keeping healthcare costs down, Snead Eye Group encourages wise eye-safety practices in your workplace, no matter the type of environment.