CARING FOR YOUR EYES ON THE JOB
Have you ever stopped to think that losing your eyesight could mean losing your livelihood? It’s a sobering thought. Heavy industries like mining and manufacturing have led the way with OH&S practices, to protect workers’ eyes and vision. In many jobs, wearing goggles, safety glasses, and welding helmets for certain tasks are mandatory; and should the worst happen, they are equipped with eyewashes and other first aid essentials.
For a long time however, we didn’t fully realise the risks to vision and eye wellness in the workplace for those in “safe” office jobs.
Why Blue Light is Bad for You
What we now know is that the blue light emitted from computer and other screens can be detrimental to our health – including our vision.
Blue light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep cycle, and may be a factor in diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer, according to this article from the Harvard Medical School website: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side.
Many of us spend hours staring at a screen each day – and not just when we are at our desks. Even after we’ve finished work for the day, we are constantly looking at television screens, smart phones and tablets.
While prolonged exposure to blue light may cause sore or irritated eyes, or difficulties with focusing, there are also studies that suggest in the long term, blue light could cause retinal damage and problems such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration.
Caring for Your Eyes at Work
While it would be almost impossible to eliminate blue light from our daily lives, here are some tips to help you care for your eye health at work:
Take regular breaks. Most of us are familiar with the headaches, neck and/or back pain that come from too much screen time. Standing up and walking around not only has benefits for your skeletal system, but gives your eyes a break too.
Adjust your screen settings. Experiment with the settings on your monitor – are certain fonts easier for you to read? Could you enlarge the text? What about the brightness level?
Positioning your screen. According to Worksafe Queensland, the top of the screen should be set at eye level or lower, about one arm length away or slightly further.
Print it out. It may not be the environmentally friendly option, but you could try printing your work on paper if you have a lot of reading to do.
Environmental irritants. While air conditioning may make your working life more comfortable, it could also contribute to problems with dry eye syndrome.
Book an eye examination. The standard recommendation is to visit an optometrist for a check up every couple of years – or even more frequently if you have certain conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Of course, if you are experiencing any new symptoms such as blurry or double vision, light sensitivity, or difficulties with focusing, don’t wait for your next check up – book an appointment with your optometrist as soon as possible.
- Aprodite Livanes
Aphrodite Livanes opened her optometry practice at Alexandra Hills in 1989. She has extensive post graduate training in behavioural vision care and is dedicated to helping her patients maintain quality vision throughout their lifetime.