- The amount of time people spend staring at screens has increased significantly, especially for work — remote employees spend nearly 13 hours per day on average staring at screens
- Almost 70% of remote workers are experiencing eye strain, but there are ways to mitigate this.
- 73% of remote workers have used some form of blue-light blocking glasses, and 67% attribute having less eye strain to their use of blue-light glasses.
Over the last few decades, the amount of time people spend staring at screens has increased significantly, especially for work. The pandemic exacerbated this trend as people were made to work from home on their computers, and children did the same as they took virtual classes.
All this screen time has led to a dramatic increase in eye strain symptoms, leading to computer vision syndrome. This syndrome includes uncomfortable symptoms like blurred vision, dry eyes, and headaches.
Protecting one’s eye health at work is becoming more of a priority, and for good reason.
While it seems that eye strain itself doesn’t appear to have any long-term consequences, continued exposure to blue light (a damaging high-energy light that comes from screens) could lead to impaired retinal cells and age-related macular degeneration, according to Dr. Katsikos, a dry eye specialist with Golden Gate Eye Associates in California.
According to the new All About Vision study, remote employees spend nearly 13 hours per day on average staring at screens, and almost 7 out of 10 remote workers have developed eye problems since working from home.
Additionally, 43% of remote workers have left work early due to vision problems.
There are ways remote workers can protect their eye health:
- Use blue-light blocking glasses
- Put a blue-light screen over your computer screen
- Install proper lighting
- Sit an appropriate distance from your monitor (at least 30 inches)
- Take frequent breaks
The benefits of anti-blue light technology are clear. 73% of remote workers have used some form of blue-light blocking glasses, and 67% attributed having less eye strain to their use of blue-light glasses.
85% of blue-light lens users said blue-light glasses are essential for remote workers, and 83% of those who used blue-light lenses reported good to excellent sleep compared to just 63% of non-blue-light lens users.
Aside from utilizing these glasses, one doctor suggests using the 20-20-20 rule.
“Every twenty minutes, so with screen time or reading, take a twenty second break and look at something that is at least twenty feet away,” he said. “And during that time, you’ll find that you are blinking a lot more, you’re relaxing your eyes a lot more and that will help out with some of the eye strain issues that people encounter,” said Dr. Craig See, ophthalmologist for the Cleveland Clinic.
According to Dr. Davey, a Professor for the College of Optometry at Western University of Health Sciences:
- Computer glasses can add an extra layer of protection, but breaks from screens should still occur regularly
- Computers should be positioned such that the screen is just below eye level with two feet distance between the person and the screen. Ergonomics play a big part in the prevention of eye strain
- Computer vision syndrome and digital eye strain may have multisystem physiological changes including increasing cortisol levels and increased psychological stress measure scores
- Good nutrition, such as an antioxidant rich diet or supplementation, may have additional benefits in ameliorating adverse effects due to digital eye strain
- While serious issues because of eye strain are rare, people should still make regular optometrist appointments to ensure eye health
Eye strain kills worker productivity
Research shows that prolonged screen time and taking hardly any breaks are detrimental to employee productivity because of the eye problems that are created as a result.
According to Eye MD, 79% of employees report that time spent looking at screens is impacting their job performance due to headaches, fatigue, and focus issues.
Headaches alone result in nearly $20 billion in lost productivity.
What are employers doing to help protect their employees’ vision?
Workers know their eye health matters — 87% of employees would be more likely to stay at a company that offers high-quality vision benefits, such as coverage of premium lens and frame options, according to Benefit News. Luckily, a UnitedHealthcare report found that 77% of employers want to provide specific insurance or a benefit plan that covers the impact of screen time.
For example, Adobe offers comprehensive vision benefits to its employees; the company’s vision plan allows employees to spend up to $250 each calendar year to use toward frames, non-prescription sunglasses or blue-light filtering glasses.
“Vision insurance offers numerous benefits to the company’s reputation and its bottom line,” according to Zenefits. “For employees, an employer-funded plan defrays some of the (potentially) high costs of routine eye care. Offering employees these benefits — especially if they are at risk of digital eye strain through long hours in front of a computer screen — sends a message that you care about their health and well-being.”