It’s Wednesday, around 2 pm, and you are sitting in front of your computer at work. You are starting to feel the effects of your work day: your head aches a little; your shoulders feel a little tight; your eyelids are drooping over eyes that feel burning and dry. It’s pretty hard to focus on that spreadsheet on your screen. Sound familiar? You may think it’s a result of being two days past and away from the weekend, but it may actually be a result of eye strain.
Eye strain is a very common affliction for workers. When people think about eye safety at work, they likely immediately think of industrial workers who must protect their eyes due to things like chemicals or debris flying around the room. However, problems with the eyes regularly arise even for the average office or cubicle worker who uses a computer. Even the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has recognized the problem of eye strain as a hazard for workers. Luckily, there are some key ways to avoid eye strain.
First, you should recognize the symptoms of eye strain. Eye strain symptoms include: blurred vision, dry/itchy or tearing eyes, tired and/or burning eyes, headaches, muscle tension and general fatigue. When a worker begins to feels these symptoms, one easy solution is to take “eye breaks.” It is common that when workers are focused on a task, they tend to blink less and forget to rest now and again. So every 20 minutes or so, simply look away from your task for at least 20 seconds. Blink your eyes a few times to increase moisture, and then gaze at an area far away, trying not to focus on any one thing. Doing this repeatedly throughout a task will help keep you focused and feeling refreshed.
For computer users, adjust your monitors so that they are at or just below eye level and placed so that you can gaze directly at the screen. If your monitor can’t be adjusted, try raising, lowering or moving your chair. Looking too far down, up, or sideways at your monitor leads not only to strained eyes, but strained neck muscles. You can also increase or reduce the brightness of your monitors, as well as the size of text, if you begin to notice you are squinting at the screen.
While this may seem like something that is mostly a concern for the person afflicted, statistics have shown that eye strain often results in diminished work accuracy and/or output due to heightened fatigue and difficulty focusing. So it is in the best interest of employers to prevent their workers from experiencing eye strain. One thing a company can do is reduce glare in the work place. Light that is too harsh results in workers straining their eyes attempting to read monitors, papers, and complete fine work. Particularly in sunny locations, workplace glare is a problem. San Antonio, TX, for instance, averages over 220 sunny days a year, which results in a lot of glare issues for a lot of workers. Luckily, there are commercial window tinting San Antonio companies who specialize in applying a tint to work place windows which significantly reduces glare for workers. Similarly, employers should ensure that the electrical lighting in their work areas is neither too bright nor too dim. Not only will reducing glare and improving light reduce eye strain and improve accuracy, it’s also necessary for a safer work environment in general.
While eye strain is a prevalent problem in the work place, by following a few simple prevention steps, together workers and their employers can maintain productivity, safety and workplace satisfaction.