How Can HR Support Staff to Really See 20/20

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Alastair Lockwood Ophthalmologist at Feel Good Contacts

Monday, January 20, 2020

We already know that the overuse of screens can put significant strain on our eyes, but with changes to daily life meaning we’re now more reliant on smart devices than ever before (such as the one you’re probably looking at right now), it’s integral that staff take extra precaution to ensure they protect themselves.

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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.

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Alastair Lockwood

Ophthalmologist at Feel Good Contacts

http://feelgoodcontacts.ie/

Alastair Lockwood is an eye health specialist and ophthalmologist at Feel Good Contacts and surgeon who is passionate about trying to stop people going blind from glaucoma - a leading cause of irreversible blindness. His research specializes in how to treat those patients who are unresponsive to conventional treatment, and is in the stages of developing new models for surgery to cure glaucoma. His interest in research stems from undergraduate training at Cambridge University and clinical training at Oxford University. He completed an MRC funded PhD at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital.

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