With our ever growing reliance on screen devices, the importance of eye health at work has never been greater. This has been highlighted by the advent of National Eye Health Week, as well as by Ofcom’s 2018 Communications Market Report.
While staring at a smart phone, laptop or tablet screen won’t harm your eyes, it can cause ‘digital eye’. Symptoms include: sore, itchy or tired eyes; headaches, impaired colour perception; and temporary blurring. These are particularly likely when you spend long periods of time looking at the screen, when there are reflections on the screen, when the characters are too small, or when there is inadequate contrast.
5 tips for maintaining eye health at work
1. Adopt a good posture
Sit so your head and neck are upright and in-line with your torso, not bent down or tilted back. Face your screen directly and position the screen around an arms-length away.
2. Avoid glare and reflections
Use curtains or blinds to control incoming sunlight. Reduce interior lighting by using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or use lower intensity bulbs and tubes. Position your screen so windows are to the side, instead of in front or behind it.
3. Adjust your device’s display settings to help reduce eye strain and fatigue
Brightness – adjust the brightness of the display so it’s approximately the same as the brightness of your surroundings.
Text size and contrast – adjust the text size and contrast for comfort, especially when reading or composing long documents. Usually, black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.
Colour temperature – blue light is associated with more eye strain than orange and red hues. Reducing the colour temperature of your display lowers the amount of blue light emitted by a colour display for better long-term viewing comfort.
4. Take breaks: the 20-20-20 rule
Give your eyes a rest by following the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from your screen every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds and focus on objects 20 feet away!
Another exercise that helps eye health at work is to look far away at an object for 10-15 seconds, then gaze at something up close for 10-15 seconds. Then look back at the distant object. Do this 10 times.
5. Get an eye test
Regular eye examinations are important for eye health at work. Try to book one every two years unless an optician or health professional suggests otherwise.
Employers play a vital role
Employers whose staff use computers, smart phones or tablets for significant periods, need to take action to protect employees eye health. Organisations need to have suitable arrangements in place to manage risk, preventing ‘digital eye’ and other possible complications such as headaches, and back, shoulder or neck discomfort.
These arrangements may include:
Having a policy on using computers and other devices such as smart phones at work, and communicating this to staff.
Selecting suitable work equipment, including peripheral equipment such as keyboards, mice, task chairs and screen risers.
Training staff to use the equipment, showing how they can make adjustments to their set up and where they can obtain peripheral equipment from.
Carrying out risk assessments for individual users of computers and other devices, and making adjustments as a result.
Conclusion: don’t take risks with eye health at work
The way we work is continuously changing, and with the use of technology we’re working smarter, faster and more flexibly. Taking how you work, as well as the equipment that is used, into consideration when planning your arrangements will help ensure you don’t miss any significant risks.
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