As optical professionals, it is important to communicate how the patient’s occupation can affect the relationship with their soft contact lenses. Occupational safety concerns can include Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), chemical exposure, projectiles, and other environmental factors. Oftentimes the patient is not aware of the implications that can occur unless they’ve had it happen or they heard it from someone else. This is just one of the many reasons to conduct an extensive lifestyle questionnaire. March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month so we have created this blog series to review some potential occupational hazards and tips to share with your patients on how to avoid them.
Working at a Computer
In today’s society, many professions require extensive work with long hours spent staring at the computer. This can lead to CVS or digital eye strain. Computer vision syndrome can be caused by a lowered blink rate, poor lighting, computer screen positioning and viewing distance. Symptoms of digital eye strain can include headaches, discomfort, blurred vision, dry eyes and overall decreased contact lens performance.1 A survey conducted by the Vision Council in 2015 stated that 65 percent of American adults have reported digital eye strain symptoms.2
Some tips and precautions for your patients:
- Remind the patient to blink frequently, staring at the computer for a long period of time will dry out the eyes and make them uncomfortable.
- Recommend that the patient be positioned a little higher than the monitor, allowing them to look downward this will feel more comfortable and also it will not expose as much of the eye to dehydration.
- Advise your patient to take rest breaks. You can suggest the 20-20-20 rule which suggests taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You can suggest looking out a window or at a clock or a poster on a wall. This allows the eye’s ciliary muscles to relax a little and help refocus.3
- Reduce glare by recommending anti-glare filters and using lower watt light bulbs for office lighting.
According to the American Optometric Association, the average American worker spends seven hours a day working on a computer.4 Computer vision syndrome is one of the many potential day to day eye hazards that your contact lens patients may be dealing with. By taking the time to learn more about your patient’s professional environment and educating them on best practices, you can help keep them safer and more comfortable especially while wearing contact lenses. Stay tuned for more posts on protecting your contact lens patient’s eyes at work.
Joanna Chmiel, LDO, ABOC, NCLEC
Joanna is a board certified licensed, optician and customer service representative at SpecialEyes. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri. She has been with SpecialEyes since 2011 and brings with her 10 years of experience within the optical industry.
1 Bausch & Lomb. (n.d.). Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). http://www.bausch.com/your-eye-concerns/eye-infections-irritations/computer-vision-syndrome-cvs#.VurD0eIrJhE
2 The Vision Council. (2015, January 14). Digital Eye Strain. https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/content/digital-eye-strain/adults
3 American Optometric Association. (n.d.). Computer Vision Syndrome. http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome?sso=y
4 American Optometric Association. (n.d.). Protecting Your Eyes at Work. http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision?sso=y