Tomorrow is World Sight Day, an annual global event dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of good vision and the prevention of blindness.
To mark this event, Mark Coxshall, CEO of Jersey charity Eyecan, tells Channel Eye about the importance of Vision Health in the workplace, and gives us tips on how we can protect our eyes at work.
Whilst, one of Eyecan’s primary aims is to promote inclusion and support islanders living with sight loss, the theme of this year’s World Sight Day is also critically important as it is aimed at prevention and maintaining eye health in the workplace.
As business leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure our employees have the tools and the knowledge to protect their eyes whilst at work.
The Significance of Vision Health at Work
There are many reasons why vision health matters in the workplace including safety and efficiency.
Happily, 90% of all sight loss is preventable. The majority of eye diseases can be treated, or progression slowed, if detected early.
In and outside of the workplace, from mobile phones and tiny laptop screens to the largest televisions, we spend our days staring at screens. Digital eye strain is becoming an increasingly more serious problem, and therefore here are some practical tips.
Many are included in the Health & Safety policies and procedures already adopted by organisations; but it is always worth a reminder.
Practical Tips for Business Leaders:
1. Promote Regular Eye Check-ups:
Healthy vision starts with early detection and treatment of eye conditions. Employers are therefore advised to encourage employees to schedule regular vision and eye health screenings and to offer flexibility in work schedules to accommodate these appointments.
2. Provide Adequate Lighting:
Proper lighting in the workplace is crucial for eye comfort and productivity. Ensure that workspaces are well-lit, and use task lighting where necessary. Natural light is also highly beneficial, so try to maximise this in your office design.
3. Educate on Ergonomics:
Train your employees about ergonomic workstation setup. Proper screen height, keyboard placement, and chair ergonomics can reduce eye strain and other physical discomforts.
4. Promote Eye-Friendly Breaks:
Encourage employees to take regular breaks. The 20-20-20 rule is a simple technique that can significantly reduce eye strain caused by prolonged screen time. It is easy to follow: for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, take a break and look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This allows the eye muscles to relax and reduces the risk of eye strain. Downloading an app developed to help people follow the 20-20-20 rule may be helpful.
5. Encourage Eye-Friendly Habits:
Encourage employees to adopt habits that promote good vision health. This includes maintaining a balanced diet rich in eye-healthy nutrients like vitamins A and C, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep.
6. Flexible Work Options:
Consider offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or adjusted schedules. This can help employees manage their eye health more effectively, especially those with specific eye conditions.
7. Screen Filters and Anti-Glare Coatings:
It is worth investing in screen filters and anti-glare coatings for monitors and screens. These can reduce the glare and blue light emissions that contribute to digital eye strain.
8. Eye Protection in Hazardous Environments:
If your business involves hazardous conditions, provide appropriate eye protection gear and ensure employees understand the importance of wearing safety glasses, goggles or face shields to prevent injuries. Employees should also be encouraged to report any injuries or near misses.
9. Support Vision Insurance:
Provide access to vision insurance or vision care benefits. This makes it easier for employees to seek professional eye care when needed, reinforcing the importance of regular check-ups.
10. Lead by Example:
As business leaders, our actions set the tone for workplace culture. It is therefore important to prioritise and protect one’s own eye health. This sends a powerful message to all employees.
It is important to check that your organisation and its workplaces have an up-to-date eye health and safety policy which is reviewed each year, and communicated effectively to all employees. Work processes and procedures should be assessed for potential eye injury risks and all employees should receive appropriate training.
The Five-Minute Check
For office workers in particular, the five-minute check is most helpful. Workplace computers, the alignment of desks, chairs and lighting have a huge impact on how our eyes function and if we’re not careful can result in eye strain, headaches, and long-term damage.
If work demands hours in front of a screen, this additional check can help prevent digital eye strain, protect eye health and optimise workplace productivity.
- My chair supports my entire body, and my feet are adequately rested on the floor.
- My monitor is slightly below eye level, helping my eyes look downward (the recommended placement is 15-20 degrees below eye level, about 10-12 centimetres as measured from the centre of the screen).
- My screen is 50-70 centimetres away from my eyes.
- My screen can tilt and swivel and has in-built glare filters.
- My screen is tilted 10 to 20 degrees away from me.
- My screen is positioned away from glare of any lighting or windows.
- My room is well-lit.
- My screen is dust-free.
- My blue light glasses are within reach.
- I use increased fonts and zoom-in to avoid bending or moving closer to my screen.
If things aren’t clear, or your eyes feel strained, visit your eye care professional.
According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), clear vision could help improve your productivity by as much as 22%. If you need help with this at work, talk to your employer.
On World Sight Day, let’s reaffirm our commitment to the importance of eye care in the workplace. Prioritising vision health in the workplace is not just about productivity, it’s about the wellbeing and safety of our employees.
By implementing these practical tips, and fostering a culture of eye care, we can create a healthier and more productive work environment.
Eyecan is one of Jersey’s oldest charities. Formed in 1886 and formerly known as the Jersey Blind Society, it is the only charity locally to support islanders who are visually impaired. Recently appointed CEO, Mark Coxshall worked for the States of Jersey Policy as a Detective Chief Inspector for 30 years. He was also the Head of Financial Crime Coordination with the Jersey Financial Services Commission, and his leadership has extended to many community-focused initiatives, including mental health, crisis intervention, and actively forging partnerships with a number of local charities, and public and private organisations, to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive interaction approach to policing.