Eye Comfort and Safety in the Workplace

Eye Comfort and Safety in the Workplace

Man working on laptop

If you are one of the millions of Americans who regularly works on a computer, you know the struggle: dry eyes, blurry vision, neck and back pain are some of the most common complaints at workstations. Spending hours on the computer is hard on our eyes and our bodies, and the effects can be long lasting and painful. In this blog, we’ll discuss how occupational eyewear and proper ergonomics can improve your comfort and safety while working at a computer, whether you are working from home or at the office.

Digital Eye Strain

Our eyes were designed for primarily viewing objects at a distance. Looking at an object up close for a long period of time can lead our eyes to become tired and fatigued. When the object we view is a digital screen, this fatigue can lead to Digital Eye Strain. Also known as Computer Vision Syndrome, Digital Eye Strain is a group of symptoms that occur when using digital screens for prolonged periods of time. These symptoms include tired, dry or irritated eyes, blurry vision, headaches, and trouble focusing. Fortunately there are a number of solutions for digital eye strain.

Anti-Fatigue Glasses

One of the best products for anyone who spends a lot of time on the computer is Anti-Fatigue or Computer glasses. These glasses are designed to minimize discomfort while viewing arms-length or near objects, such as a book or computer screen. They do this by incorporating a small amount of magnification in the lower part of the lens, where you naturally look at your computer screen or keyboard. These lenses are ideal for those who aren’t ready for bifocal or progressive lenses, but experience fatigue while working up close. Students, those with hyperopia (farsightedness), and those who are in their late 30’s or early 40’s will benefit most. 

Custom Progressive Lenses

Progressive lenses, sometimes called “no-line bifocals” are designed to help you see images at every distance, whether objects are located far, intermediate, or near. These multipurpose lenses are a great option for nearly everyone over age 40, but not all progressive lenses are created equally. It is important to talk to your optician about your daily activities so they can help select the best progressive lens for your needs. Digital progressive lenses that are designed with your customized measurements will provide the best viewing experience. 

Blue Blocking Products

There are a number of products on the market designed to reduce the amount of blue light that reaches our eyes. These include glasses, screen covers, tech products, and apps. Blue light blocking products work by acting as a filter to block the High Energy Visible blue light rays emitted by phone, tablet, and computer screens. They are often tinted a yellow color, which is softer on the eyes, thereby reducing the strain caused by bright backlit screens. Another benefit of blue light blocking products is that they may help to regulate our circadian rhythms, improving the quality of our sleep. 

Blinking And Artificial Tears

Looking at computer screens may decrease blink rate and lead to a greater number of incomplete blinks. When we don’t blink enough, tears are not distributed across the eye, leading to dry eye symptoms. Using artificial tears while at the computer can help to keep eyes adequately moisturized, enhancing both comfort and visual clarity. Remember to choose artificial tears that are preservative free to minimize irritation. 

The 20/20/20 Rule

A simple way to reduce eye fatigue is to use the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This allows the muscles in the eye to relax, reducing symptoms of fatigue. 

Ergonomics

Ergonomics refers to the study of people at work. Products that are designed “ergonomically” are designed around the way you work, in order to maximize comfort and efficiency and minimize the risk of injury. Spending long periods working in environments that are not ergonomically designed can lead to injuries, discomfort, and fatigue. Using appropriate equipment, positioning, and posture can help to reduce your risks. 

Monitors

Choose a quality computer monitor, ideally with a high refresh rate and blue light filter. Higher refresh rates reduce screen flicker, which can lead to eye fatigue. Some monitors have built-in blue light reduction, and some allow you to change the tone of the display to a warmer color. Either option can help to improve eye comfort. Other features to consider are a matte or glare reducing screen, adjustable stand for optimal positioning, and high screen resolution to facilitate easy viewing of details. There are a number of monitors on the market that are designed specifically to reduce eye fatigue. 

The position of your monitor also plays a great role in viewing comfort. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), your monitor should be:

  • Directly in front of you and at least 20 inches away.
  • Placed so the top line of the screen is at or below eye level.
  • Perpendicular to a window.

Desks

It is important to place your computer at a desk that allows for proper monitor placement. Ensure that your desk allows you to place your screen at the best height and distance for your needs. A desk height calculator can help you to determine the best desk height for your individual measurements. Some people may benefit from a standing desk, which may offer relief from back pain and even improve your mood.

Document Holders

Using document holders is a great way to minimize eye and neck strain by keeping your line of sight even with your monitor. This is especially helpful for anyone who performs data entry. 

Working Positions

OSHA recommends these working positions to minimize your risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder while working on a computer:

  • Hands, wrists, and forearms are straight, in-line and roughly parallel to the floor.
  • Head is level, forward facing, and balanced. Generally it is in-line with the torso.
  • Shoulders are relaxed and upper arms hang normally at the side of the body.
  • Elbows stay in close to the body and are bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
  • Feet are fully supported by the floor or a footrest may be used if the desk height is not adjustable.
  • Back is fully supported with appropriate lumbar support when sitting vertical or leaning back slightly.
  • Thighs and hips are supported and generally parallel to the floor.
  • Knees are about the same height as the hips with the feet slightly forward.

Sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time is hard on your eyes and your body. Using the right tools and postures can make your work safer and more comfortable. To schedule an eye appointment or speak with an optician, call or text (907) 328-2920.

References: 

Portello JK, Rosenfield M, Chu CA. Blink rate, incomplete blinks and computer vision syndrome. Optom Vis Sci. 2013 May;90(5):482-7. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e31828f09a7. PMID: 23538437.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration, https://www.osha.gov/etools/computer-workstations/positions

Pronk NP, Katz AS, Lowry M, Payfer JR. Reducing occupational sitting time and improving worker health: the Take-a-Stand Project, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2012;9:E154. doi: 10.5888/pcd9.110323. PMID: 23057991; PMCID: PMC3477898., https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23057991/
Pronk NP, Katz AS, Lowry M, Payfer JR. Reducing occupational sitting time and improving worker health: the Take-a-Stand Project, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2012;9:E154. doi: 10.5888/pcd9.110323. PMID: 23057991; PMCID: PMC3477898.

Written By Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC

Photo by Tim van der Kuip on Unsplash

Posted in: Uncategorized

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