A 2018 study commissioned by ACUVUE found that the average employee spends “nearly 1,700 hours in front of a computer screen over the course of a year”, which works out to 6.5 hours of screen time per day.
The 2019 Screen Time Stats Report by productivity app RescueTime found that “most people, on average, spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on [their] phones”—with the top 20% of smartphone users having in excess of 4.5 hours of daily screen time.
However, with remote work and limited options for entertainment, employees are spending more time than ever at home… and on their screens. A recent study on COVID-19 physical activity and sedentary behaviour found that screen time has increased on average by 20-30%.
What does that all add up to? Screen fatigue, eye strain, and employees struggling with productivity.
Continue reading to learn a few ways that you can help employees reduce eye strain at work and at home.
Encourage employees to take screen breaks
To help employees reduce eye strain at work, encourage them to take regular screen breaks during their work day and get away from their smartphones, tablets or TVs after work, too.
Whether employees employ the pomodoro technique—where they work in productive 25-minute bursts and then take short breaks—or they follow the rule of getting up for one minute, on the hour every hour, it’s worth encouraging your team to put away their personal smart devices and take breaks away from the screen during work hours.
Here are some suggestions to get away from the screen after work hours:
- Read one (or more) of the top books to read in 2021
- Play some board or card games
- Explore your neighbourhood
Investigate blue-light filtering glasses
Blue-light filtering glasses have been an office—and gamer—staple for a few years now, but have become more popular recently now that they look like regular glasses. (Anyone else remember when they were the funky yellow colour?)
While science is inconclusive about the impact of wearing blue-light glasses to reduce eye strain at work, anecdotal evidence suggests that they can help with eye fatigue. However, according to WebMD, ophthalmologists are quite split over the supposed benefits and advise people to be mindful of marketing gimmicks.
Even if you’re in good health and have perfect vision, you should still have your eyes checked regularly as eye exams can help identify other more serious issues, such as glaucoma or type-2 diabetes.
According to the Canadian Eye Association of Optometrists, adults aged 20-39 should have their eyes examined every 2-3 years; if they’re 40-64 years old, they should see an eye doctor every 2 years; and anyone aged 65 and above should get an annual exam.
Particularly, increased screen time may lead to other issues such as blurry vision, gritty eyes, and headaches. Eye care expert and oculoplastic surgeon Sabrina Shah-Desai explains that “[o]ffice workers, in general, are more prone to dry eye disease as we naturally blink less when concentrating, blinking as few as 1-3 times per minute when focusing on a computer screen versus 15-20 blinks per minute when we’re not”.
Install software designed to reduce glare
Another option to help reduce eye strain at work is to install software that can help reduce glare, such as f.lux.
This software will automatically adjust the brightness and colour of the screen to the lighting in the room or the time of day. Employees can also play around with their screen settings, to find the contrast that’s easiest on their eyes.
Remember the 20-20-20 rule
Employees can also try the 20-20-20 rule to reduce eye strain at work, where “every 20 minutes, [they] take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away” which can allow eye muscles to relax temporarily and helps to guard against fatigue.