Articles

Here’s looking at you, kid

3 workplace strategies for protecting your vision

It’s one of the best-remembered movie catchphrases of all time and closes the book on a bittersweet war-time romance: “Here’s looking at you, kid.” The film, of course, was “Casablanca” and the line was Humphrey Bogart’s.

If you think about it, lines and lyrics about vision are central to film and music, from The Who’s “I Can See for Miles” to Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” to Foreigner’s “Double Vision.” This may be because we use our eyes for almost everything we do, including reading, watching television, driving a car and playing sports or video games. Vision is so integral to our daily lives that the thought of losing it is a major fear: 79 percent of recent survey participants said that other than their own death or the death of a loved one, losing their eyesight was the worst thing that could happen to them.1

Given that the thought of eye problems is such a major concern for Americans, it only makes sense for them to safeguard their vision both at home and at work. In fact, there are several steps they can take at their workplaces to protect their eyesight:

  1. Wear protective eyewear. Employers are expected to provide safe work environments, and that may mean requiring protective eyewear. Failure to comply can sometimes result in disciplinary action, including suspension or termination. When workplaces require or suggest the wearing of safety goggles or glasses, employees should routinely slip on the eyewear and encourage co-workers to do the same.
  2. Look away from the computer. Many employees spend long hours staring at computer screens. As a result, they sometimes suffer eye fatigue or dry eyes. These workers should follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent eye strain: Every 20 minutes, they should lift their eyes from the screen and look 20 feet in front of them for 20 seconds.
  3. Eat healthy on breaks and at lunch. It’s easy to grab a snack from a workplace vending machine or head out for fast food at lunch, but making the effort to eat healthy during working hours benefits vision. Most people know carrots are good for their eyes, but dark leafy greens such as collard greens, kale and spinach are beneficial too. Fish that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids also promotes better eyesight: think salmon, tuna and halibut.

The importance of regular eye exams

In addition to taking steps at work and at home to protect their eyes from damage or injury, all employees should schedule regular eye exams. The American Optometric Association recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 60 undergo an exam once every two years, and that those over age 60 undergo an annual exam. Those whose vision is at risk may need to have their eyes examined more frequently.2 “At risk” individuals are those:

  • With diabetes, hypertension or a family history of ocular disease.
  • Working in occupations that are visually high-demanding or hazardous to eyes.
  • Taking prescription or non-prescription drugs with ocular side effects.
  • Wearing contact lenses.
  • Who’ve had eye surgery.

Making eye care more affordable

Eye exams can be expensive, and the cost of frames and lenses, contact lenses and treatment of eye disorders is daunting. That’s why vision insurance is so important to Americans and their families. It’s important for consumers to critically examine the vision coverage they have in place, or any policy they’re considering. Many vision plans offer nothing beyond discounted services and basic coverage within a small provider network. Smart shoppers will look for policies that provide basic benefits, such as eye exams, prescription glasses and contact lenses, as well as cash benefits for eye disorders and diseases, eye surgery and even permanent vision impairment.

Sources

1 Surge Research Inc., “Americans fear blindness more than heart disease,” accessed Nov. 27, 2013 - http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010SurgeResearchInc/08/prweb4372854.htm
2American Optometric Association, “Recommended Eye Examination Frequency for Pediatric Patients and Adults,” accessed Nov. 27, 2013 - http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/comprehensive-eye-and-vision-examination/recommended-examination-frequency-for-pediatric-patients-and-adults
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