Working Americans are spending upwards of seven hours of their day staring at a screen, according to the American Optometric Association External Site.
With combined screen time at work and home, it’s no wonder 58 percent of people say they’re experiencing side effects from digital eye strain External Site.
- Neck, shoulder, and back pain
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
Research shows digital eye strain is caused in part by exposure to blue light.
What is blue light, anyway?
Everyone’s talking about the effects of blue light — here are the fast facts External Site.
Where it comes fromWhile the largest source is the sun, electronics such as computers, smartphones, televisions and tablets also emit blue light.
Why it can hurt usEven though the amount of exposure from electronics is small compared to that from the sun, researchers are concerned about blue light from screens because people view them at a closer distance and for longer periods of time. This causes digital eye strain symptoms and, in extreme cases, could lead to retina damage from prolonged exposure.
Why it can help usIt’s not all bad. Natural blue light from the sun helps regulate our natural sleep cycle and keep us alert during the day.
Protect your employees and boost productivity
Screen time can be unavoidable, as most jobs these days require use of at least one digital device. Help your employees protect their eyes during the workday:
Use the 20-20-20 ruleEvery 20 minutes, employees should look at an object that’s 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will help give their eyes a much needed break.
Move moreAs part of Healthy Hometown Powered by WellmarkSM, employees are encouraged to move more throughout the day. Model this behavior for your worksite by getting away from your computers and stretching, taking quick breaks, or walking during lunchtime. Bonus: Employees are more productive Opens in a new window when they take short breaks.
Consider protective gearScreen filters for computer screens and computer glasses help filter some of the blue light that reaches the eye. Let your employees know about these options. (If you work in an industry where your employees are exposed to chemical or mechanical hazards, be sure to offer eye protection specific to those tasks, too. Check out the eye and face protection eTool External Site from the U.S. Department of Labor to see the common eye hazards and their recommendations for protective equipment.)
Eye health is a full-time job
Even when employees are off the clock, there are steps they can take for overall eye health External Site.
Limit screen use at homeAfter a long day on the computer, employees should try to limit time spent watching T.V. or using the computer at home. If that can’t be done, limiting screen time is especially important before bed. Browsing on smartphones at night can decrease melatonin, which is a natural hormone produced by the brain that helps regulate sleep. This makes it harder to fall asleep and feel rested for the work day ahead. See how sleep affects productivity.
Eat wellLutein is an essential nutrient for eye health. Leafy greens like kale or spinach are great sources. Check out other superfoods for super eye health Opens in a new window.
AccessorizeSunglasses should be worn whenever outside or when driving to and from work to protect eyes from UV rays. Have an office rec league? Wear protective eye-wear while playing sports where eyes are at risk for injury, like hockey or lacrosse.
Tie it all together with vision coverage
The most important step employees can take for eye care? Scheduling a regular eye exam. Eye exams can detect other types of health problems, like diabetes and high blood pressure, before they become serious. Read more about the importance of vision care by searching “vision” on the Wellmark Marketing Toolkit.
Be a “health plan hero” and make it even easier on your employees to schedule preventive vision care by adding vision to your existing plan. Contact your authorized Wellmark representative to get started.