In the digital age, our eyes are doing most of the work, and paying the price for this.
We get up in the morning, check our email, go to work and spend eight or more hours working on our computers. After work, we socialize on our phones, work some more on our digital devices, or watch a show on our computers or digital TVs. Statista, the statistics portal, estimates that most people are awake 16-18 hours/day, and spend 11 hours/day using electronic media! Basically, we are staring at some digital device the majority of the day.
It’s no wonder that vision problems are on the rise. I see patients everyday who suffer from eyestrain, headaches, red eyes, and Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) every day. All of this is related to the heavy demand we place on our eyes. These eye problems affect productivity as people are tired and uncomfortable from using their eyes so much.
Let’s take a look at the main causes and methods to combat vision problems and dry eyes in the workplace.
Dry Eye Disease
According to a 2012 Gallup poll, over 26 million Americans suffer from dry eye disease (DED).
This condition is commonly caused by factors such as:
- Prolonged digital slows down blink rate by 70% to improve concentration while staring at a screen. The image is constantly moving because the pixels are refreshing electronic screen so to concentrate more, we blink less. When we don’t blink enough, tears aren’t being spread across our eyes so they dry out and get red.
- Medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroid disorders
- Medications such as allergy medicines, anti-depressants, high blood pressure, acne, birth control
- Environmental factors: air conditioning, heater
We cannot change pre-existing medical conditions, but we can change environmental factors and the fact we don’t blink often enough especially when we are working at the computer, our cell phone, and even concentrating while working or studying.
Binocular Vision Problems
One out of five people have a binocular vision problem such as difficulty with eye teaming, focusing or tracking. This affects the ability to input and process visual information which diminishes your ability to get your work done quickly and accurately.
Binocular vision problems can be developmental or can result from a brain injury such as a concussion or stroke. Many people who have had a car accident, or even a hit on the head from playing sports, have had a concussion which affects their ability to use their eyes correctly. This in turn impairs their academic, athletic and executive performance.
Symptoms of binocular vision problems include:
- Eyestrain or headaches
- Inverting or inserting words or letters in the wrong place
- Frequent loss of place or skipping words while reading
- Double vision
- Words appear to move or float
- Text goes in and out of focus
Binocular vision problems can be treated with a type of physical therapy called Vision Therapy. Start by having a Visual Performance Evaluation to determine which functional visual skills have been affected. Then do Vision Therapy to correct the visual skills to improve performance on visual tasks.
I was a Vision Therapy patient myself, and it helped improve my reading speed and comprehension tremendously, as well as depth perception and eye-hand coordination in sports. Because I benefitted so much from Vision Therapy, I chose to specialize in Binocular Vision problems and got my post-doctorate Fellowship in this field.
The Effects of the Dry Eye Disease in the Workplace
Unlike other conditions which enhance absenteeism in the workplace, dry eyes or binocular vision problems won’t make us call in sick, but they will impair our job performance by making us uncomfortable and less productive.
According to a Japanese study on the effects of the DED, this condition is responsible for a $6,160 loss per employee due to loss productivity
In a different study from the University of Waterloo and the University of Utrecht, researchers found that over 75% of employees believed that their symptoms are inhibiting their daily work activities.
That same study also found that three types of factors were at work here: general health (age, DED diagnosis, general health), environmental factors (humidity, air velocity, temperature), and visual tasks (digital environment, reading, desks).
Combating the Dry Eye Disease in the Workplace
We treat dry eyes from the inside out. Depending on the cause of your dry eyes, we can improve your lubricating and nourishing tear flow with tear stimulation drops (instead of artificial tears), nutrition and supplements to improve the production of natural tears, and our MoisturEyes spa to unclog oily tear production glands and get healthy tears to flow.
In addition to eye drops, companies should actively work towards creating an office environment that doesn’t stimulate eye discomfort.
For example, employees can take frequent breaks from their work. The 20-20-20 rule: look away from your screen at least every 20 minutes and look at something that is at least 20 feet from your eyes for at least 20 seconds.
To improve the productivity of their staff who use their visual system so heavily, employers should provide Visual Performance exams and Dry Eye Evaluations if the companies want to avoid $6,160 losses per employee. We have helped thousands of patients naturally, and with our MoisturEyes dry eye spa treat their dry, red and tired eyes so they could do their best at work, and feel good about how their eyes look and feel.
Finally, environmental factors should be changed as well. Companies can consider different heating/cooling methods that dry out the humidity of the office as much.
Vision problems create discomfort and decrease productivity of employers. Since we do so much work with our eyes, it places a strain on our visual system which is exacerbated by dry eyes and binocular vision problems.
Treating these vision problems can improve the productivity and decrease the large cost to employers of loss productivity and efficiency.
Do not let your employees and company suffer. Take care of their eyes, so they can take care of business.