When people talk about workplace safety and eye safety, they often think about wearing protection from flying debris.
But work can also expose the eyes to more subtle hazards, whether one plies his or her trade inside or out.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, sitting at a desk in front of a computer for eight hours a day can strain a person's eyes.
Computer vision syndrome, a temporary condition caused by the prolonged focusing of the eyes on a computer monitor, affects millions of people. Its symptoms- headaches, blurred vision and eye strain- aren't permanent, but they're not pleasant either. One organization estimated that nine out of every 10 people who spend at least three hours at a computer suffer from the affliction.
The British Columbia Association of Optometrists (BCAO) says there are several things people can do to reduce their risk of computer vision syndrome.
Monitors should be positioned to encourage a strong, erect posture. The user should also be able to direct his or her eyes slightly downward toward the screen.
If you can, adjust the lighting in your room to reduce glare and tinker with the contrast and brightness settings for you monitor to find an optimal setting.
If dry eyes are a problem, concentrate on blinking regularly or, if recommended by an optometrist, use artificial tear eye drops.
For those who regularly shift their gaze from paper to a screen, the BCAO also suggests obtaining a clipboard that can be attached to your monitor.
You can also install tools on your computer to remind you to focus on eye health.
Some experts recommend following the so-called 20-20-20 rule. The rule states that every 20 minutes, you should spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 metres from your desk. To make following the rule a habit, visit www.protectyourvision.org.
The website offers a program that runs in the background sounds a chime every 20 minutes to encourage you to take a break from your screen.
If you work outside, the danger comes from a natural source: the sun. The solution is relatively simple: wear sunglasses.
But there are other sources of UV radiation too, many of which are not natural. UV lamps, arc welding torches and mercury vapour lamps all emit potentially harmful UV radiation.
When artificial UV radiation is present at a job site, employers are required to measure the levels of radiation to ensure exposure is within guidelines, according to the BCAO.
If levels are above the healthy level, employers must take steps to protect the worker, including, if necessary, providing protective clothing and eyewear.
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