RETHINKING VISION IN THE WORKPLACE

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Despite all the efforts being made within the optical community, millions of Americans-even those who have vision-care benefits-don’t seek routine eye examinations. While the individual is the biggest loser in this Russian roulette scenario, there are many costs associated with poor vision in the workplace. A recent study has brought these issues to light.

The 2015 annual Employee Perceptions of Vision Benefits survey conducted by an independent research company surveyed 1,000 U.S. residents 18 and older who were employed full or part time and have vision care benefits (multivu.com/players/English/7440351-transitions-optical-workplace-vision). The results of the study are illuminating, and every eyecare office should take time to understand the report and use its data in promoting eyecare to the public.

While 92% of workers felt that the quality of their work was impacted by visual disturbances on-the-job, only 13% reported this fact to their employer, even though 99% of them felt that seeing well was somewhat important, important or very important. Employers can’t fix what they don’t know about, right? More than half of those surveyed said they were bothered by light issues at work. The top five visual disturbances were tired eyes; light reflecting off a computer screen; bright, glaring light; dry eyes; and headaches that were caused by- visual disturbances. Nearly half of those surveyed took breaks to rest their eyes because they felt hurt or uncomfortable. This is a 45% increase over the last time this study was done in 2011.

Poor vision and a compromised working environment reduces employees’ productivity, which translates into profit loss for employers. What’s the answer to this dilemma? Routine eyecare and a dialogue between the employee and an experienced ECP who can make recommendations to improve visual comfort and effectiveness. Eye doctors and their staff need to ask questions that unearth workplace vision difficulties such as glary computer screens and numbers of hours looking at screens, intense overhead lighting, and blue light. Workers need to be informed about the potential situations that may occur in the workplace. Another good resource on eye problems in the workplace is The Vision Council’s report on digital eyestrain (thevisioncouncil.org/digital-eye-strain-report-2015).

It’s time for complacency about visual comfort and effectiveness in the workplace to end. Efforts have begun in this regard, but it’s going to take an effort by every eyecare professional in order to make the public appreciate just how important an issue this is. Will you be a part of it?

email me at ed@visioncareproducts.com

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