Dubai: As the world marks World Sight Day on Thursday (October 12), doctors in the United Arab Emirates emphasise the importance of promoting eye health in the workplace. They offer essential guidance on how to care for your eyes while working, aligning with this year’s theme for the occasion, which encourages everyone to “Love your eyes at work.”
A recent report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has shed light on the global issue of vision impairment related to work.
13 mnumber people worldwide with work-related vision impairment
The report revealed that over 13 million people worldwide live with work-related vision impairment. Moreover, approximately 3.5 million eye injuries occur in the workplace each year, accounting for one per cent of all non-fatal occupational injuries.
Hence, this year, IAPB’s theme, “Love Your Eyes at Work,” focuses on elevating eye health and safeguarding vision in the workplace.
Gulf News spoke to two ophthalmologists in the UAE who highlighted that prioritising eye health in the workplace is crucial for overall well-being. They shared measures that both employers and employees can take to maintain healthy vision, reduce the risk of eye-related issues, and create a safer, eye-friendly work environment.
While ensuring eye care is an integral part of workplace health and safety, it is often overlooked, said Dr. Borja Salvador Culla, a consultant ophthalmologist at Barraquer Eye Hospital in Dubai.
“Many people spend a significant amount of time working in front of computers, and this can lead to eye strain and other vision-related problems,” he told Gulf News.
However, he pointed out that there are several steps that employers and employees can take to protect their eyes and maintain healthy vision in the workplace.
Measures to safeguard sight
He suggested the following range of measures to safeguard eyes at workplaces.
Proper lighting: Adequate lighting is essential to prevent eye strain and fatigue. The lighting should be bright enough for clarity but not too bright to cause glare. Adjustable task lighting can help reduce eye strain.
Ergonomics: Computer screens should be positioned at arm’s length and the top of the screen slightly below eye level to minimise strain on the neck and shoulders. Anti-glare screens can reduce eye strain from computer use.
Regular breaks: Frequent breaks are essential to avoid dryness, eye strain, and fatigue caused by extended screen time. The 30-30-30 rule recommends looking away from the screen for 30 seconds every 30 minutes, focusing on something 30 feet away. If your work demands continuous screen exposure, it is recommended to make it 20-20-20.
Prescription glasses or lenses: Ensure the correct prescription for work tasks. Incorrect prescriptions can lead to eye strain, headaches, and vision issues. Regular eye exams are crucial.
Eye protection: Certain industries require eye protection, especially in certain industries where workers are exposed to hazards such as chemicals, flying debris, or bright flashes of light. Employers should provide appropriate eye protection such as safety glasses or goggles to prevent eye injuries.
Healthy lifestyle: A balanced diet, hydration, and regular exercise promote good eye health. Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also help prevent vision-related problems.
Dr Mandeep Lamba, a specialist ophthalmologist and head of Retina Services at Prime Hospital, Dubai, highlighted the multidimensional aspects of eye care in the workplace. His recommendations included:
- Blue-collar workers at worksites should use high-quality goggles, face shields, and respirators.
- White-collar workers in offices should consider anti-reflection coatings in glasses and ARC screens for computers.
- Consider blue light filters and goggles for specific work conditions where people deal with sharp lights and lasers.
- Everyone with vision issues must ensure that their eyeglass prescription is up-to-date and accurately matches their current vision needs.
- Take regular breaks, avoiding continuous screen use for more than 20-30 minutes
- Ensure proper ergonomic posture while using digital devices
- Consult an eye doctor if experiencing symptoms like eye pain, frequent headaches, redness, or poor vision.
- Manage stress and control physical parameters like body weight, diabetes, and hypertension.
- Reduce hazards and raise awareness.