Goggle-eyed office workers are needlessly suffering blinding headaches, eyestrain and problems with close-up and long distance vision, according to a new study commissioned to mark the launch of ScreenSmart – a charitable initiative designed to raise awareness of the impact intensive screen use can have on workers’ eye health.
A poll of 1,091 workers(1), conducted by the Eyecare Trust(2) in conjunction with Simplyhealth(3), found just one in five employees take regular breaks from working at their computer, as recommended by eye health professionals and the Health and Safety Executive(4).
Whilst a quarter (27%) of those surveyed said they only look up to grab some lunch or head off to important meetings and one in ten workaholics admit they sit in front of their screen all day without a break!
People working in creative industries and the financial sectors were most likely to stay glued to their screen while employees working in healthcare took most breaks.
Iain Anderson, Chairman of the Eyecare Trust said: “Prolonged screen use can put an enormous strain on our eyes and trigger visual distress. Ninety per cent of VDU users say they regularly experience screen fatigue – sore, itchy and irritated eyes, light sensitivity and temporary blurring of their vision yet a simple adjustment to their seat, screen settings or posture could banish symptoms for good.”
Be ScreenSmart and follow these quick tips to help minimise screen fatigue:
Take frequent breaks – give your eyes a rest every 20 minutes or so.
Create an eye-friendly environment – Position copy documents at roughly the same distance from the screen to avoid having to re-focus, dim the lights (the ration of ambient light to monitor light should be three to one) and minimise any glare or reflections.
Customise you screen settings – position your monitor an arm’s length away, keep your eyes level with the top of the screen, select a font size of 12pts or above and make sure you have a clean screen.
And, remember to keep blinking – when you concentrate on the screen for long periods your blink rate slows dramatically.
James Glover from Simplyhealth says: “By undertaking the ScreenSmart campaign, we hope to raise greater awareness of the need for individuals to take care of their eye health, particularly when spending long periods of time working at a screen. The campaign also seeks to support employers and inform them of the simple steps they need to take in order to comply with the law and support their employees’ eye health.”
It’s also vital that all computer users have regular eye examinations(5) to help keep their eyes fit and healthy. The law demands that employers provide free sight tests and a contribution towards the cost of any vision correction required solely for VDU work. However, 62 per cent of workers say their employer won’t pay for regular eye tests and one in 65 employees has been refused a contribution towards a pair of VDU specs.
A free ScreenSmart resource pack is being sent out to 2,500 businesses to help educate employers about the importance of caring for their employees’ eye health and provide practical solutions to make complying with the legislation simple, quick and easy.
For further advice and information about minimising your risk of screen fatigue and your rights as an employee or to download copies of the employers’ resource pack visit to www.screensmart.co.uk.
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For further press information please contact:
Rachel Robson, The Eyecare Trust Press Office, 01225 423394, firstname.lastname@example.org OR
Caroline Lakeman, Simplyhealth, 01264 342570, email@example.com
1 Research study conducted by Opinion Matters between 8 – 12 February 2010. Sample: 1,091 office workers.
2 The Eyecare Trust is a registered charity that exists to promote awareness of ocular health and the importance of good eye care. www.eyecaretrust.org.uk
3 About Simplyhealth:
· Previously known as HSA, BCWA, LHF, HealthSure and Totally Active, our family of health companies have joined together over the last 8 years to form Simplyhealth
· At Simplyhealth, we have been providing healthcare solutions for nearly 140 years, dedicated to serving our customers through a variety of cash plans, dental plans, private medical insurance, healthcare trusts and mobility and living aids
· Simplyhealth is a trading name of Simplyhealth Access, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority
· As of December 2009, Simplyhealth had 1.3 million customers providing cover for some 2.3 million people
· Simplyhealth is committed to making a positive impact on its communities. Each year, we help health related charities and causes to the tune of at least £1million
4 Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations. Full regulations detailed in the Health and Safety Executive’s guidance booklet L26.
5 The Eyecare Trust recommends everyone has their eyes examined once every two years (unless advised otherwise by their optometrist or they experience visual difficulties in-between times).
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