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Why Your Employees Need Equitable Access to Eye Care

Why Your Employees Need Equitable Access to Eye Care

Ensuring your employees' health and well-being is crucial to maintaining diversity and inclusion in the workplace. One vital part of your employees' well-being is their vision and eye health. According to insights from the International Labour Organization, over 13 million people today live with vision impairment linked to their work — an estimated 3.5 million eye injuries happen in the workplace annually, accounting for 1% of all non-fatal occupational injuries.

Healthy vision is important for one's quality of life and daily activities and for maintaining optimal productivity and safety at work. As mentioned above, eye injuries are pretty common in the workplace. However, the correlation works the other way around as well. Poor or compromised vision can result in inaccuracies at work or even accidents and injuries. Unfortunately, not all your employees can access proper health and vision care. Below, we'll look at the intricate relationship between eye health, work, and productivity and what employers can do to support equitable access to eye care for employees:


Eye health, work, and productivity

As mentioned above, eye health and work share a strong relationship. Your activities at work can impact your eye health. For example, many of us spend our weekdays sitting on digital monitors for work. Meanwhile, other workers spend long hours in the sun, exposing themselves — and their eyes — to harmful UV rays. At the same time, showing up to work with vision or eyesight problems can harm one's work performance.


According to a 2021 study published in The Lancet, vision impairment and blindness lead to significant productivity losses and increased unemployment. Researchers found that 160.7 million people with moderate and severe vision impairment or blindness were within working age. The overall relative reduction in employment among people with vision loss was recorded at 30.2%. As a result, researchers estimated that the annual cost of potential productivity losses caused by vision loss amounted to $410.7 billion (£321.6 billion), or 0.3% of GDP.

As such, ensuring that existing and future employees have access to eye care is essential and a win-win situation for both their well-being and your business output. Below, we'll be sharing essential tips for ensuring your employees have equitable access to eye care:


Providing access to protective eyewear

Experts and ophthalmologists agree that wearing glasses is a critical first step to preventing common vision problems. Depending on where your office and employees are located, some may not have access to physical eye care services like clinics or eye stores.

Fortunately, prescription and non-corrective glasses have become increasingly accessible thanks to online retail. Due to online processing, buyers can easily order glasses set to their prescription for vision correction. Some eyewear brands like Oakley offer other lens coatings that can enhance work performance, like added durability for workers who may work among outdoor elements or heavy machinery or anti-reflective lenses to reduce glare and UV exposure. Either way, it's important that employers shoulder or offer protective eyewear for employees to ensure eye health maintenance.


Arranging routine eye tests

Finally, the World Council of Optometry strongly recommends that all adults undergo full eye exams routinely for eye and physical health monitoring. A routine eye test can also help detect severe problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Employers should arrange professional eye tests done by an optometrist or doctor for employees working with digital screens such as PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones if they request one. Like eyewear, this should also be paid for by employers.

Modern technology can help streamline this practice. In a previous post, we highlighted the role of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence in promoting equitable healthcare in the workplace. By integrating AI into workplace health programs, employers can practice targeted diagnostics and provide appropriate healthcare for employees. AI also enables personalised care tailored to your employees' needs, including medical consultations and monitoring regardless of location. For eye health, using AI in your workplace health programs can ensure your employees get timely and quality eye care when needed.