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Eye-care specialists are educating businesses on how to protect their employee’s eyesight against potential damage after it was revealed that the average person spends over eight hours a day on electronic devices.

Earlier this month, Ofcom announced that millions of people in Britain were embarking on a ‘digital detox’ due to many people being unhappy about the amount of time they spend online, where 59% of people surveyed described themselves as ‘hooked’ to their devices.

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare warns that over-exposure to digital technology can be potentially harmful, and say employers should limit the impact and protect employees’ eyes.

Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare said: “Over-exposure to a wide range of digital devices – particularly those that are used in close proximity to the face such as computer screens, tablets or smart phones - can have a number of damaging effects on the overall health of your eyes.

“Headaches, an inability to focus properly, sensitivity to light, very watery or very dry eyes and blurred vision are all common symptoms - and if left untreated, can develop into more serious long-term conditions. It doesn’t necessarily mean going cold turkey either as there are lots of small, simple changes employees can make on a daily basis to give their eyes the break they need.”

It’s not only health that is effected by the use to technology devices, but also our memories. New research by Kaspersky Lab had revealed that the majority of people are using mobiles, tablets, laptops and other technology as an extension of their memory, as enhanced features and functionality mean storing information is easier than ever before.

The survey of 6, 000 consumers aged between 16 and 65 in six European countries found that two thirds (63%) of adults believe their digital device helps them achieve more by keeping information digitally, freeing up more space in their brain to concrete on more important tasks.

Under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations 1992, amended in 2002, employers must provide eyecare for all ‘screen users’. This includes funding glasses if require solely for screen use.

There are specific definitions of screen users under the regulations, relating to time spent at the screen and whether the role can be completed without screen use.

Seven top tips for employers to avoid eye strain amongst employees

  • Encourage employees to rest their eyes regularly by (for example) looking away from the computer screen
  • Implement regular screen breaks
  • Ensure adequate lighting for working on computers or devices
  • Reduce the glare by providing anti-glare screens to attach to computer monitors
  • Adjust monitor settings
  • Implement an eyecare policy and regular eyesight checks
  • Understand and comply with Health and Safety regulations on Display Screen Equipment