For those who work in roles that are heavily office-based, taking care of your eyes is even more important to combat the hours spent on your phone, computer screen or console. Optometrists are finding an increasing number of tech-related eye strains in patients, demonstrating the threat devices pose to our long term eye health.
To help your staff look after their health and maintain vision as close to 20/20 as possible, I’ve compiled tips, nutritional advice and strategies that employers can use to help employees really see better in 2020.
1. Encourage regular breaks from a computer screen
Using a computer too frequently can cause computer vision syndrome (CVS), where the eyes become tired, dry and even strained from the glare. To prevent this, employees are advised to blink regularly during the day when working on a computer to avoid dry eyes.
Taking regular breaks is imperative when sitting in front of a screen, where the 20-20-20 rule can come in handy. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from your screen to look at something 20 feet away. This will give your eyes a chance to rest and is an effective way to reduce eye strain.
2. Ensure your technical environment is fit for purpose
Having a high-quality resolution and adequately bright screen can significantly ease the pressure on your eyes to focus on the computer. Working with a dull screen or glare forces eyes to strain more, making it important to regularly check the screen brightness and resolutions of your equipment.
Offer the option of anti-glare screens for your staff to reduce the everyday strain on their eyes. Sufficient lighting is required around desks for equal brightness since shadows and light glare can cause eye fatigue. Computer screens should rest at least 25 inches away.
A clean environment with minimal dust will cause less irritation so ensure working spaces are maintained to an excellent standard.
3. Support employees who want to quit smoking
Smoking exposes your eyes to high levels of oxidative stress and has been linked to the risk of cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes and dry eye syndrome. Quitting smoking at any stage of life can be beneficial, reducing the risk of developing eye threatening conditions.
4. Encourage staff to go for a walk on their lunch break
Exercising regularly is a recommended way to keep your eyes in check. Exercising will lower the pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure), helping to protect retinal ganglion cells.
Ensure your staff are taking at least 20 minutes out of the office a day to go for a walk and move as much as possible throughout the working day.
5. Make sure your staff are getting enough sleep
For most people, sleeping is the one period during the day when the eyes are not required to focus. During sleep, the eyes are rehydrated with a supply of natural tears, a process which requires a minimum of five hours to replenish.
If sleeping is an issue for any of your staff, encouraging regular exercise can be helpful way to tackle this. Relaxing in bed without using a screen can also help, as well as hot baths, light yoga or reading a book.
Of course, improving the quality of sleep for your staff will also look after their eyes, as it will also improve their alertness and productivity when in the office.
6. Eat a balanced diet
To maintain healthy eyes, eating foods rich in vitamins C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and zinc are highly recommended. Kale, spinach, salmon, tuna, eggs, nuts, beans, oranges and oysters are some of the many foods crucial to this balanced diet.
Providing healthy snacks in the office can be a great way to encourage this as opposed to the usual culprits of crisps, biscuits and chocolate.
7. Wear sunglasses with the correct protection
If your staff work outside or are regularly on the road, exposure to UV light can be one issue that can cause repercussions to eye health.
Although sunglasses make an excellent accessory in the summer, their importance for eye protection throughout the year should not be underestimated. Fashion retailers don’t always produce sunglasses with the correct materials to avoid harmful ultraviolet (UV) light which makes it imperative for staff to ensure they purchase glasses with both UVA and UVB protection.
8. Encourage regular eye checks
One of the basics: eye examinations are crucial to spotting sight loss or damage before it worsens. Optometrists can help detect conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration which can lead to sight loss, so encouraging your staff to make regular visits to the optician is an important step in maintaining good eye health.
Simple measures such as posters around the office or sending regular reminders in the form of an internal newsletter can be an easy way to encourage checks.