Eye Concerns for Working Adults
Article by: Yong Jian | Optometrist | Parkway Parade
Most of the working adults aged 21-40 years old generally do not present with major eye problems. More frequently, they may experience eye fatigue (digital eye strain) and suffer from eyes injuries depending on the nature of their jobs.
Digital Eye Strain
Digital eye strain is a common problem amongst the working adults and is caused by an increase in visual demand, especially after prolonged hours of near tasks such as computer work, reading, and other close work activities. Almost 70% of adults in the United States report symptoms of digital eye strain, with adults aged 18 to 34 being the most susceptible to experiencing this problem.
What are the symptoms of digital eye strain?
- Eye fatigue
- Watery or dry eyes
- Blurred vision
- Neck and shoulder strains
How do we manage digital eye strain?
- Blue light filter lenses – Research has shown that using blue light filter lenses can help to reduce eye strain when looking at digital devices. It helps to cut off the harmful spectrum of blue-violet light which can potentially cause damage to the tissues in the eye.
- Visual breaks – It is suggested to take frequent breaks when performing near tasks such as working on the computer for long hours. As suggested by the American Optometry Association (AOA), you may adopt the 20-20-20 rule by taking a 20-second break to view something 20 feet (6m) away every 20 minutes of doing near work in order to reduce eye fatigue.
- Proper lighting – It is important to avoid working directly under overhead lights and also eliminate external light sources (e.g. sunlight) which causes glare by having shades or blinds as the glare can cause additional stress to the eyes. In addition, instead of having your computer monitor screen placed in front or behind a window, a more ideal position would be to place the computer sideways to the window to avoid any glare or reflection.
- Proper distance for computer work – A comfortable viewing distance when looking at computer screens would be approximately 50 to 65cm from the eye. It is also advisable to position the computer screen 15 to 20 degrees below the eye level in order to reduce eye dehydration and fatigue.
- Frequent blinks – Our eyes tend to blink less when we are concentrating at visual tasks which may, in turn, result in dry eyes. Hence, we should constantly remind ourselves to blink frequently (once every 10 to 15 seconds) to keep our eyes moisturized and hydrated whilst working.
Eye Injuries at Work
Eye injuries may be common if your occupation involves performing tasks that are hazardous to the eye e.g. welding. Eye injuries are more prone to happen in workplaces such as a factory, construction site, and laboratory and especially so when the individual is not putting on protective eyewear whilst performing the tasks. Common eye injuries include chemical burns, foreign objects entering the eye, cuts, and abrasions of the cornea.
Common causes of eye injuries are:
- Splashes with grease and oil
- Burns from steam
- Ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure
- Flying wood or metal chips
An eye injury can result in visual impairment or blindness in severe cases. This can, in turn, lead to a devastating impact on the individual’s lifestyle and/or permanent impairment. It is therefore important to ensure that the protective eyewear complies with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 standards. This ensures that personal eye and face protection devices provide the required protection against impact, non-ionizing radiation, and liquid splash exposures, so as to minimize the incidence of workplace injuries.
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