There is no better feeling than getting a full day’s worth of work done in a few hours. Being productive gives us a sense of accomplishment and relief, but it isn’t always easy to keep up.
Staying motivated at work can be difficult. Some days it may almost seem impossible, leaving you feeling unproductive and stressed. There’s no call for worry, recent studies have shown that it may not all be your fault. A study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Optometry found that vision impairments lower work productivity by as much as 20 percent.
Productivity can be affected in two ways in relation to vision impairments. Vision impairments and discomfort can cause a need to not be physically present at work. However, they can also cause people to be mentally absent from work.
Visual Impairments and Unproductivity
Being mentally absent from work, means to be physically present but not getting any work done. The term to describe this is “presenteeism”. Presenteeism is often associated with people afflicted with depression, anxiety, or pain. Now, as visual impairments rise employers are starting to notice a drop in productivity.
The two most associated visual impairments are Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and presbyopia. CVS is a result of staring at a screen for too long without taking a break. This is most commonly seen in office workers. Though treatment varies, it is easily treatable through eye exercises and taking frequent breaks from looking at screens.
That means that taking a break may even increase your productivity. Taking a break every 20 minutes to take a quick walk to the water cooler or to the bathroom will allow your eyes to defocus and take the strain off of them. If these breaks are not taken the effects could be harmful, with symptoms such as neck pain, dry eyes, and frequent headaches.
This unproductivity can also be the cause of presbyopia, a vision impairment that has people struggling to see objects close to their face. Generally this condition can be corrected with bifocals; however these bifocals are designed for reading. This means that they are meant to be used to see objects at a low angle, roughly 15 inches away from the eye. Computer monitors are often placed much higher and slightly further away, causing those with presbyopia to crane their necks which can lead to much discomfort.
Nearly 10 million eye exams are carried out each year due to vision problems related to computer use. Computers are a large part of a lot of jobs. It is important to take the necessary precautions to protect your eyes and neck from long days in front of a computer screen.
Visual impairments are also causing a high number of workers to be absent from work for long stretches of time. These visual impairments are largely due to eye injuries sustained at work. Nearly 800,000 workers are injured in America per year. The worst part, almost all eye injuries reported could have been prevented with the proper eye protection.
Fortunately, employers are responding quickly to these vison impairments by assuring that their employees have their eyes tested at least once a year. However getting your eyes tested will not prevent visual impairments. At best, eye tests will diagnose a visual impairment. Prevention is up to you.
How to Improve Vision and Stay Productive
As mentioned, frequent vison breaks are absolutely necessary. Contrary to what a lot of us have been taught to believe, taking a break does not equate laziness. There isn’t anything lazy about taking care of yourself.
Even if you don’t get up to walk around, you should be taking an eye break for every 10 minutes of work you do. Check out the 10-10-10 Rule.
Another way to avoid eye strain is to adjust your computer monitor. Glare and brightness are two of the culprits when it comes to Computer Vision Syndrome and digital eye strain. Consider lowering your brightness to contrast the bright lights of the office. Or consider brightening the screen if you find that your eyes need to work extra hard to see the work on the screen. Rule of thumb: never stare at the screen at full brightness.
Glare can come from a number of light sources. It can come from the sun, florescent lights, or other screens. You most likely have no control over the lighting situation in the office and definitely have no control over the sun (unless there are blinds, but if the sun is out, you’re not going to want to draw them). Luckily there are glare filters. Glare filters are thin protective filters that can be stuck onto your screen.
As for eye injuries, the only preventative measure is to make sure that you are familiar with the safety and health codes in your place of work and to abide by them. You won’t regret it.
Remember that your eye health doesn’t just come from adjusting your computer monitor or wearing safety glasses. Nourishing your eyes with the right eye vitamins is also essential to your present and long term eye health.