*This article was last updated on May 2020.
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. The largest contributor of blue light is the sun, but electronics such as computers, smartphones, television and tablets also emit their fair share. Even 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. Don't fear — it's not all bad. Natural blue light from the sun helps regulate your employees natural sleep cycle to help them stay alert throughout the day.
How to protect your employees' eyes
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 guidelines External Site from the U.S. Department of Labor to see the common eye hazards and their recommendations for protective equipment.)
Maintaining eye health while away from the office
Even when employees are off the clock, there are steps they can take for overall eye health External Site.
Limit screen use at home
After 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.
Lutein 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.
Sunglasses 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 and find solutions that best fit your employees on the Wellmark Marketing Toolkit Secure Site.
Questions? Contact your authorized Wellmark account representative, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Send Email.