Changes to the way we now work due to the impact of COVID-19 have, for many of us, seen an increase in the time we spend looking at a digital screen – be it a laptop, smartphone, tablet or television.
Whilst staring at a screen for a prolonged period of time won’t actually cause permanent damage, it can lead to digital eye strain which, if left untreated, can worsen over time. Symptoms include dry, tired or sore eyes, blurred vision, headaches and musculoskeletal problems such as neck and shoulder pain.
If much of your job involves being in front of your computer for long periods, it is vital both that you get the support you need from your employer, and recognise what you can do to help yourself on a daily basis to avoid suffering from digital eye strain.
So what can employers do to help ensure their workforce doesn’t suffer from digital eye strain?
Looking after your employees’ sight can be one of the most cost-effective and beneficial ways you can support health and well-being in the workplace – both for office and home-based staff.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), employers now have the same health and safety responsibilities for those that are home-based as for any other employees. If staff are working from home, the risks to their health from Display Screen Equipment (DSE) must still be managed.
Employers must legally arrange for an eye test for DSE users if they ask for one, as well as providing glasses for employees who need them for DSE use.
How can you help yourself to prevent suffering from digital eye strain? Here are our top tips for simple changes to make to your workday:
- Checking the screen is positioned correctly and properly adjusted to avoid being too close or too far away.
- Apply the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes look away from the screen for 20 seconds, at something that’s 20 feet away. That way, you’re giving your eyes the regular breaks they need.
- Take short, regular breaks away from your workstation to properly rest your eyes, as well as giving your body a stretch to stop your muscles from stiffening.
- Wear appropriate glasses if needed – this will help to avoid unnecessary strain on the eyes. If you are unsure whether you need to wear glasses, you are entitled to ask your employer for an eye test.
- Manage dry eyes – if you are suffering from dry or itchy eyes as a result of too much screen time, your optician or pharmacist may recommend eye drops to help soothe and relieve discomfort.
Another way to ensure the risk of digital eye strain is reduced is to have a thorough DSE workstation assessment. The HSE law states that employers should carry out these assessments in order to provide employees with tailored advice and strategies to reduce any health risks that may be present. This includes the risk of eye strain as a result of factors including incorrect screen position and screen glare.
Here at Ergonix, we are dedicated to supporting businesses with ensuring their employees are working in an environment that minimises the risk of workstation-related ill-health and promotes positive health and wellbeing.
As well as carrying out DSE assessments ourselves, we are also able to deliver DSE Workstation Assessor Foundation courses. The purpose of the course, which is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF), is to give delegates knowledge and experience to enable them to become confident and competent DSE assessors themselves.