Excessive Screen Time Is Hurting Employee Eye Health, Report Finds

By Alana Smart / June 12, 2024 / Blog ,

Excessive Screen Time Is Hurting Employee Eye Health, Report Finds

Screens have become an integral part of our lives, providing entertainment, connecting us with loved ones, and boosting productivity from anywhere. However, the benefits of screen use come with a significant downside: eye strain. Eye health has become a critical aspect of employee well-being, with many Americans experiencing deteriorating eye health due to excessive screen time, as highlighted in a recent study.

The Reality of Screen Time

The 2024 Workplace Vision Health Report, conducted by VSP in partnership with Workplace Intelligence, highlights the urgent need for improved eye care and preventive health education in the workplace. According to the report, employees spend an average of 96.1 hours per week in front of screens—equivalent to four full days. Over a year, this amounts to 208 days of screen time or 57% of the entire year.

The survey, which included 800 human resource leaders and 800 full-time remote, hybrid, and on-site employees aged 18 to 67, found that:

  • Work Hours and Eye Health: More than 54% of Gen Z workers who reported longer working hours, including nights and weekends, also indicated that they are spending more time looking at screens.
  • Comparison with Other Generations: Concerns about eye health due to extended screen time were less pronounced among other generations, with 49% of millennials, 39% of Gen Xers, and 31% of baby boomers reporting similar issues.
  • General Trends: Overall, 69% of all surveyed workers said they have worked longer hours over the past year, with 43% indicating that their eye health has worsened.
  • Daily Screen Time by Work Setup: Remote and hybrid workers reported an average of seven hours of screen time per day, compared to 5.5 hours for onsite workers.

The Broader Impact on Workers

Prolonged exposure to screens is damaging workers’ eye health. Most workers (69%) reported working longer hours over the past year, with 43% noting a deterioration in their eye health. Reasons for working longer hours include understaffing (42%) and workplace cultural pressures (46%). The report found that 50% of respondents struggle with at least one eye issue:

  • Digital Eyestrain: Prolonged screen time causes strain on the eyes, leading to discomfort and fatigue.
  • Headaches: Constant exposure to screens can trigger frequent headaches and migraines.
  • Dry and Itchy Eyes: Reduced blinking while staring at screens results in dry and irritated eyes.
  • Blurred Vision: Continuous focus on digital devices can lead to difficulty maintaining clear vision.

Poor eye health directly affects productivity. Workers experiencing eye issues report decreased effectiveness, ability to focus, and quality of work. Over 40% of employees noted that eye problems have adversely affected their mental health, exacerbating stress, anxiety, and depression.

Recommendations for Employers

Employers play a crucial role in mitigating the adverse effects of excessive screen time on their employees’ health. Here are some actionable steps that can help:

  1. Promote the 20-20-20 Rule: Encourage employees to follow the American Optometric Association’s 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. This simple practice can significantly reduce eyestrain.
  2. Implement Regular Breaks: Schedule regular breaks throughout the workday to give employees’ eyes a rest from screens. Encourage outdoor breaks to refresh their vision.
  3. Ergonomic Workstations: Ensure that workstations are ergonomically designed to minimize eye and body strain. Proper lighting and screen positioning can make a big difference.
  4. Eye Health Education: Provide resources and training on the importance of eye health. Share tips on reducing screen time and maintaining good eye hygiene.
  5. Flexible Work Hours: Offer flexible working hours to reduce the need for extended periods of screen time. Allow employees to take breaks without feeling pressured to meet unrealistic deadlines.
  6. Provide Eye Care Resources: Offer access to eye care services, including regular eye exams and corrective eyewear.

“With a growing number of employees working longer hours, our research indicates that screen time may be at an all-time high,” said Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner, Workplace Intelligence. “Employers have an opportunity to meet this moment for their employees, improve their organization’s productivity, and reduce healthcare costs by providing the support and benefits their people need to reduce digital eye strain.”



Ready to elevate your workforce’s health? Partner with NMS Health for your occupational health screenings. With NMS Health, you are not just identifying and preventing future illness; you’re investing in a safer, healthier future for your team. Get started today!

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