Patient Corner

Healthy Vision on the Job is Everyone's Business

Americans encouraged to prevent workplace eye strain and eye injuries by following some easy and important steps.

Whether using a computer or a sledge hammer to get the job done, the American Optometric Association (AOA) reports that visual discomfort, eye strain and eye injuries in the workplace are not only common, bust cost billions in lost productivity each year.  Research indicates that 2,000 workers each day in the U.S. sustain job-related eye injuries requiring medical treatment.  Safety experts and doctors of  optometry agree that most eye and vision injuries could be prevented with simple safety steps such as wearing properly designed and fitted protective eyewear.

"Healthy vision is critical to successfully completing job-related tasks," said Jamison Boyd, O.D.  "And while most people think of construction or manufacturing as high-risk occupations where eye injuries are prevalent, even jobs requiring "smart phones," laptops and desktop computers can cause vision problems if not used properly."

Go Easy on the PDA
According to the AOA's American Eye-Q survey, nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) spend five or more hours per day using a computer or PDA (personal digital assistant).  And while technology can easily improve the efficiencies of one's life, prolonged use of electronic devices may lead to symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) such as eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, fatigue, blurred vision and loss of focus.

Dr. Boyd encourages tech users to follow these recommendations, which will go a long way in keeping productivity up and discomfort down wihle working:

1.  Give It A Rest:  Remember the 20-20-20 rule.  At least every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away.

2.  Size Up:  Smaller screens on hand-held devices usually favor tiny type that challenges your vision.  Instead of bringing the screen closer to the eyes, increase the font size so the device can be used at a distance that is more comfortable for your eyes.

3.  Sharpen Up:  Better resolution offers greater clarity and usually more comfort.  Adjust the brightness of the screen to a comfortable intensity, neither too bright nor too dim.

4.  Reduce Glare:  Hand-held devices present challenges in various lighting conditions.  When possible, try to make sure lighting is not directly behind the head or in front.  Reducing glare may ease reading and can make a bigger difference than increasing the font.

5.  Look Down:  It's easier on the eyes to focus on reading material that is below eye level.

Safer Sight On-Site
Many professions, from auto repair to health care, require protective eyewear to help reduce the risk of eye injuries.  Proper eye protection, like safety glasses, goggles, face shields and helmets, can help prevent thousands of injuries each year.

"Eye safety, whether at home or in the work place, is proven to prevent vision loss," said Dr. Boyd.  "The two main reasons workers experience eye injuries are either because they are not wearing eye protection or they are wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job.  At our offices, we will custom fit you with prescription and non-prescription eye protection."

Dr. Boyd recommends four key elements to protect eyes from injury:
1.  Know the eye safety dangers.
2.  Eliminate hazards before starting work such as using machine guards,        work screens or other engineering controls.
3.  Wear the proper eye protection and make sure it is fitted correctly.
4.  Keep safety eyewear in good condition and replace it if damaged.

While it's important to practice good eye health habits at work, the best line of defense is to visit an Optometrist on a regular basis for comprehensive eye exams to help ensure healthy vision.