Whether your team is in the office, working remotely or doing a little bit of both, they likely spend many hours looking at blue-light-emitting computer or smartphone screens.
People now spend an average of 13 hours per day using digital devices, according to a recent report. All that screen time may be affecting their health and perhaps even the productivity of your organization.
“It’s hard to escape digital devices for work and even home life these days,” said Dr. Scott Edmonds, chief eye care officer at UnitedHealthcare. “But there are also some strategies you can use to reduce the effects of all the light that beams back at you while you’re on devices.”
Why is it important? Blue light is a short-wavelength, high-energy light that has the potential to damage the eyes over time. The sun is the largest source of blue light, but computers, smartphones and other digital devices also emit it. Researchers continue to evaluate the potential health implications that may come from too much exposure to blue light, including sleep problems and various symptoms that are collectively called digital eye strain.
“Excessive blue-light exposure is of particular concern because of how close the user’s eyes typically are to screens and for how long, as is the case in the workplace,” Dr. Edmonds said. “That’s why it’s important for managers to understand how they may be able to help team members.”
Here are five ideas for helping employees who log a lot of screen time:
- Share information about healthy computer use. Consider reminding employees to increase the distance between their eyes and their screens. Avoid long sessions in front of screens by encouraging the 20-20-20 rule. After 20 minutes of computer use, stop and focus on something that’s at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds to give your eyes a break.
- Focus on clear computer screens. Encourage clean computer screens to help improve display readability. Consider making available screen filters to help employees reduce their blue-light exposure at work. Some UnitedHealthcare Vision members can get a discount on Eyesafe Blue Light Screen Filters to retrofit existing smartphones, tablets, laptops and computer monitors.
- Tap into safer technology. Some laptops and monitors now have built-in technology designed to help filter out blue light without diminishing the viewing experience — and you may be eligible for discounts on them. For instance, some UnitedHealthcare Vision members can get a discount of up to 20% on Dell XPS laptops with embedded blue-light-blocking properties
- Encourage eye exams. Squinting while looking at screens, discomfort or dizziness may all be signs of eye problems that can be identified during an eye exam. Even if there are no warning signs, starting in their 20s, adults should get a baseline eye exam. After that check, an ophthalmologist can suggest how often to do future exams.
- Offer vision plans with additional resources. Glasses with an anti-reflective coating may help prevent digital eye strain symptoms. Consider a vision plan that provides discounts on blue-light-blocking eyewear, which may help employees reduce the risk of developing digital eye strain.
Go deeper: Download a complimentary copy of the Eyesafe e-book “How to Save Your Eyes in the Digital Age: The Handbook on Blue Light, Screen Time, Health and Electronics,” which includes information about the potential near-term and long-term risks arising from excessive screen time and blue-light exposure.