The modern work environment is irrevocably tied to computer screens. Whether it’s laptops for remote workers, lines of monitors for office workers, or even phone screens for employees needed at multiple sites, eye strain is a growing issue. Also known as computer vision syndrome, this man-made issue saw another spike as 16% of the workforce increased their work hours in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Only 57% of respondents to a 2020 Chubb Work from Home Survey said they were prepared to deal with the additional hours.
So how can you, as an employer, ready your workspace and workforce for increased screen time in the demanding post-pandemic atmosphere?
Educate your workforce. The first step, as always, is to educate those that may be at risk. This begins with encouraging workers to have their vision checked, as trying to strain your eyes to see is a common cause of ocular issues. The most common causes of digital eye strain are:
- Inadequate lighting conditions
- Screen glare from older monitors
- Monitor view distance
- Poor posture
- Unaddressed vision problems
- Fatigue and stress
Once adequately educated on the effects, the next step would be to encourage the best practices on avoiding these conditions while also improving work conditions yourself. Assess if your lighting is adequate and that you let in as much natural light as possible. Provide window coverings to avoid glare, paint walls with darker matte finishes, and avoid placing workstations near heating or cooling vents to avoid dry eye. If lack of humidity is still a problem, consider investing in a humidification system.
Encourage screen breaks. Start with the 20-20-20 rule, in which employees are encouraged to take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away. Also remind them to blink, as absurd as it sounds. Staring at a screen for many hours has a tendency to slow or stop blinking, which can contribute to dry eyes. Especially encourage your employees to avoid screens while away from work since computers are an unavoidable part of the workday.
Investigate blue-light filtering eyeglasses. The number of workers that require corrective lenses is increasing, and if they already wear eyeglasses with quality lenses to the workplace, encourage them to seek out blue-light filtered lenses. This can reduce the amount of light glare and blue light entering your eye, which can prevent potential damage. Blue light can cause damage to retinal cells and result in macular degeneration.
Use eye-friendly computer settings. Monitor position and settings are important and should become standardized in your office. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), a computer screen should be anywhere from four to five inches below eye level and 20-28 inches from the user’s eyes is ideal. Try to adjust the screen brightness to match the ambient light in the room. Screen brightness is also a way to reduce glare. Finally, make sure to increase the font size on whatever program you’re using. Straining to see small characters is not healthy in the long term.
Encourage good posture maintenance. It may seem unrelated, but good posture can help maintain ocular health, while poor posture can lead to shifting unconsciously in your seat, which can compromise other factors of eye health. So, adjust your chair so your feet are flat on the ground and your arms are supported by either your chair or desk while typing.
Computer screens are impossible to avoid in the modern workplace. By educating your employees about best practices, putting effort into an ergonomic office, and encouraging healthy living styles, your workforce can avoid eye strain and continue being as productive. Fixing potential problems now can save you a lot in the long term, and lead to a happy, effective office.