In an economic climate in which lower wage increases prevail and employers seek to provide affordable rewards and recognition for their employees, a focus on employee’s and family members’ vision is a low cost perk. Are you getting the best benefit from the benefits you offer? And, what better time to pay attention to employee vision than March which is Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month?

While vision insurance may be beyond your reach, although recommended in a comprehensive benefits package, vision education and testing is not. Day and evening seminars that cover the vision information in this post, and more, such as eating for healthy vision and vision changes as people age, are a well-appreciated employer wellness offering. Additionally, provide initial vision testing for family members and vision day might just be the perk the motivation doctor ordered. Serve refreshments such as pizza or a lunch to bolster turnout.

Workplace Vision Tips from the AOA

Whether using a computer or a sledge hammer to get the job done, the American Optometric Association (AOA) reports that visual discomfort, eye strain and eye injuries in the workplace are common and cost employers billions in lost productivity each year. Research indicates that 2,000 workers each day in the United States sustain job-related eye injuries requiring medical treatment. Yet, safety experts and doctors of optometry agree that 90 percent of all eye and vision injuries could be prevented with simple safety steps such as wearing properly designed and fitted protective eyewear.

According to the AOA’s annual American Eye-Q® survey, (the results were conveyed for this blog post, via a press release), nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) spend five or more hours per day using a computer or a PDA (personal digital assistant). While technology improves work productivity, the prolonged use of electronic devices may lead to problems such as eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, fatigue, blurred vision and loss of focus.

Five Steps to Vision Care

The AOA recommends these five steps, and even if you do nothing else for vision month, you can distribute these to your employees and post them in your workplace.

  • “Give It A Rest: Remember the 20-20-20 rule. At least every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. The Eye-Q® survey found that the majority of Americans don’t follow this rule; more than half (59 percent) take breaks every hour, or less frequently.
  • “Size Up: Smaller screens on hand-held devices usually favor tiny type that challenges your vision. Instead of bringing the screen closer to the eyes, increase the font size so the device can be used at a distance that is more comfortable for your eyes.
  • “Sharpen Up: Better resolution offers greater clarity and usually more comfort. Adjust the brightness of the screen to a comfortable intensity, neither too bright nor too dim.
  • “Reduce Glare: Hand-held devices present challenges in various lighting conditions. When possible, try to make sure lighting is not directly behind the head or in front. The AOA recommends users try to reduce glare, which may ease reading and can make a bigger difference than increasing the font.
  • “Look Down: It’s easier on the eyes to focus on reading material that is below eye level, therefore, the AOA recommends a computer monitor or hand-held device be positioned slightly below eye level.”
      • “Know the eye safety dangers.
      • “Eliminate hazards before starting work such as using machine guards, work screens or other engineering controls.
      • “Wear the proper eye protection and make sure it is correctly fitted.
      • “Keep safety eyewear in good condition and replace it if it is damaged.”

    • The AOA recommends these elements to protect office eyes from injury.

      Industrial Eye Protection

      In industrial settings, the AOA recommends four key elements to protect eyes from injury:

      Whether you sponsor a vision day or disseminate these ideas, employees experience a sense of well-being and satisfaction when their employer exhibits concern for their health and safety.

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Workplace Wellness: Vision for March originally appeared on Human Resources on Monday, March 8th, 2010 at 10:36:16.

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