June 14, 2024

Care Nex

Stay Healthy, Live Happy

How to reduce eye strain from virtual meetings

3 min read

While remote work may mean sweatpants and mid-afternoon naps, it also means being hooked to your computer screen for most of the day — and our eyes are paying the price.

According to health insurance company VSP Vision, workers begin experiencing eye strain just 27 minutes into virtual meetings, with 38% noting blurry vision, 37% having dry eyes and 32% getting headaches. Notably, 40% of respondents feel their eye health has worsened over the last year, but around 31% have not had an eye exam in the last two years. This spells trouble for employee productivity and overall health

“The most common side effects that an American worker would face would be having headaches, dry eyes, sore eyes, red eyes, dry eyes, tearing, and just overall ocular discomfort,” says Dr. Valerie Sheety-Pilon, vision vice president of clinical and medical affairs at VSP Vision. “It’s important for us to engage with eye care providers to understand our needs because everyone is different.”

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Dr. Sheety-Pilon notes that there are practices everyone can do to reduce eye strain — no doctor needed. Namely, she points to the  “20-20-20 rule,” which advises people to look away from their screen and 20 feet ahead for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. However, Dr. Sheety-Pilon encourages workers to get an eye exam and use it as an opportunity to learn more about what their ideal work setup should look like. How close screens are, the brightness setting and the lighting in the room could make or break one’s visual experience. 

“Everyone needs something different, whether it’s the distance from the monitor or lighting or eyewear,” says Dr. Sheety-Pilon. “We can calculate what’s best for your comfort.”

For those wondering if blue-light glasses may be the solution, Dr. Sheety-Pilon underlines that the eyewear is still highly debated in the clinical landscape, and it can’t replace a visit to an eye doctor.

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“I cannot clinically say blue-light filtering lenses are the solve-all, be-all,” she says. “There’s a multitude of factors affecting the employee and causing ocular discomfort or screen fatigue.”

Employers play a part in worker eye health as well. Ideally, employees should have free primary eye care, leaving no financial barriers, stresses Dr. Sheety-Pilon. While many people may associate optometrists solely with eye health, she points out that the eyes can tell doctors a lot about a person’s overall health. And the earlier a doctor can catch a health issue, the better chances a patient has of surviving the condition — physically and financially. Eye doctors can detect over 270 serious health conditions, including diabetes, cancers and autoimmune diseases. In fact, one in five Americans say their eye doctor caught a health issue that wasn’t related to their eyes, according to vision care provider Eye-Q. 

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“Ultimately, when we look at the back part of the eye, it is truly a window to your soul,” says Dr. Sheety-Pilon. “And we’re able to communicate with primary care teams and specialists to ensure that you’re entering the healthcare ecosystem when something looks abnormal.” 

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