Sight is one of, if not the most important, of the senses. But your workplace could be putting your sight at risk. A Franciscan Physician Network opthalmologist breaks down some of the common vision problems facing workers.
Reading text on a computer screen, tablet or other digital device can be more taxingfor the eyes than reading printed text. This is one reason employees who work on a computer for long periods might have eye problems.
Several factors contribute to digital eye strain, such as:
On average, people tend to blink less when using a computer than when reading a printed text. This can cause dry eye, which can also contribute to digital eye strain.
Rand Diab, MD, an ophthalmologist at Franciscan Physician Network Hammond Clinic in Munster, Indiana, recommends the use of lubricating drops, such as artificial tears. These eye drops can be purchased over the counter and used up to four times a day.
"In offices, force yourself to blink periodically; close your eyes, look away from the screen and focus sometimes on a distant target," says Dr. Diab. "I commonly see dry and fatigued eyes in people who stare at screens a lot."
Improving your work environment can also help your eyes. Some tips include:
Making these changes eliminates digital eye strain in many people.
Your eye doctor will also need to treat any underlying problems contributing to your digital eye strain. For example, you might need a new pair of glasses.
"Dry eyes can affect anyone, not just office workers," Dr. Diab said. "They are also impacted by factors outside of the workplace, such as screen time at home. Also, some people work in very dry buildings, and that makes it worse."
To treat dry eye, consider using a humidifier in the home or workplace, or speak to your eye doctor about over-the-counter lubricating drops or prescription medications that can treat dry eye.
Your eye doctor also might recommend the following:
"Eye strain, like other strains, can be managed with rest," Dr. Diab says." Getting enough sleep on a regular basis helps, too."
In factories, use safety glasses or safety goggles. Foreign bodies or debris in the eye often have to be removed by the ophthalmologist in the office with special instruments or irrigation.
"I see a lot of metallic particles that get trapped on the eye surface that I need to remove," Dr. Diab says. "That occurs commonly in auto mechanics or mill workers or anyone working with flying debris."
Often, people with vision problems wait far too long before getting an eye exam. If you have any change in vision, have it checked out by an eye care professional. Only an eye healthcare professional can identify serious vision problems at a stage early enough to treat.
"Any time one is having a problem with vision or pain or discomfort in the eyes, they should have an eye exam," Dr. Diab says. "Aside from that, one screening exam is reasonable and then the doctor can make recommendations thereafter."
Information from © 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC, and Franciscan Health's "Franciscan Focus" magazine (Northwest Indiana) contributed to this article.