It’s no secret that spending too much time looking at screens is damaging to your eyes (as well as your neck, back, and even your mental health). Extended screen time contributes to eye strain, nearsightedness, and ultimately a condition known as myopia, which is affecting children at higher rates than ever before.
However, children aren’t the only group experiencing higher rates of myopia. Experts say that rates of myopia among young adults have increased substantially as well. According to a report from the Guardian, nearly twice as many young adults are suffering from myopia now than did 50 years ago.
So what does the rise in myopia mean for companies who conduct the bulk of their work via screens? Although screens are essential to work, they also could be a major factor contributing to productivity loss. A 2018 study estimated that myopia contributes to a $244 billion loss in productivity worldwide, and the cost of untreated myopia outweighs the cost of treatment.
Keep reading to see 3 reasons why screen-heavy companies should get serious about limiting employee screen time and 3 strategies to make it happen.
Problem # 1: Time spent online takes away from activities that support physical and mental wellness.
Technology helps companies streamline their communications, project management and other areas of their business, but it also blurs the line between personal and professional life. When work is so easily accessible, employees struggle to tear themselves away.
According to an Aetna International survey, 70% of employees believe that limiting the time they spend on the computer would allow them to get more physical activity. However, many also feel a sense of responsibility to do work outside of normal business hours like checking email and taking calls.
Solution: Mandate breaks and turn-off times
The role of technology in modern life can make employees feel that they must always be accessible even if that isn’t an explicit requirement of their job. Aetna’s survey also found that more than three-quarters of employees believe that employer efforts to limit screen time outside of work hours would benefit their overall health.
Employers can help their team overcome this feeling of obligation by not only encouraging employees to take breaks and turn off their technology but also requiring them.
Recommended reading: Learn how to encourage a healthy work-life balance for your team.
Problem #2: Young people are the most highly affected.
Young adults and children are demonstrating the highest rates of myopia. They also spend the most time looking at screens. The 2020 Screen Time Report from United Health Care found that reduced productivity at work is among the top five most common symptoms of excessive screen time. As vision impairments increase among the next generation of workers, productivity is likely to fall.
Solution: Provide comprehensive vision benefits.
Young adults are often uninsured or underinsured. In fact, data from the United States Census Bureau reveals that people between ages 19 and 34 are the most likely of any age group to lack insurance. In addition, vision benefits are not typically included in employer-sponsored health care plans. By providing employees with access to comprehensive health plans and vision benefits, employees and their children can get access to the care they need to address myopia.
Problem #3: Employee productivity drops off throughout the day.
Although most office workers put in at least eight hours, they’re not actually productive throughout their entire work day. A review of project management software suggests that the average worker is most productive between the hours of 9 AM and 11 AM, but most employees don’t finish up their day until at least 5 PM. That leaves six hours of work time that employees spend with screens, but productivity lags.
Solution: Provide blue light filtering accessories
Screen time could be a major factor causing employee productivity to fall throughout the day. Even when employees take breaks or participate in meetings, they’re often still looking at screens. Time away from screens is crucial, but employers can also invest in solutions that protect employees from blue light like blue light filtering glasses and screens.
How 20/20 Onsite can help
Employees spend more time with screens than ever before both at work and at home, and it’s taking a toll on their mental and physical health. Fortunately, companies can integrate simple solutions like these to promote employee eye health. With support from 20/20 Onsite, employers can bring exams and fittings for protective blue light blocking glasses or contacts directly to their team. Employees can even buy blue light blocking glasses all on board our Mobile Vision Clinics. Learn how to get started.