Eye Strain is Getting in the Way of Your Productivity

© Martinan - Fotolia.com Screens are taking over our lives. For both work and play, we we are constantly looking at our computer, tablet, phone and television screens. As time passes, more and more of us are starting to feel the negative effects of all this screen time on our eyes.

Recent research from the Society of Human Resource Management found that 79% of employees suffer at least one visual disturbance while at work every day. And, this causes a bit of a loss in productivity -- 53% said at least once a day they need to take a break because of eye strain. The average worker actually takes two breaks a day due to eye strain, but a third will take more than three breaks and 13% will take more than five.

The complaints cited included feelings of tired eyes (47%), dryness and blurry vision (33%), watery eyes (18%), and 29% said the eye strain leads to headaches. Headaches alone cost $17 billion a year because of employee absenteeism, according to the National Headache Foundation.

"With so many workers reporting visual disturbances, it's not really surprising that more than half (53 percent) say they take breaks during the workday to rest their eyes, but it is a bit alarming that when we asked this question in 2011, only 29 percent were reporting breaks," said the researchers who performed the study. "That means there has been a 45 percent increase in people taking breaks from their workday to rest their eyes in the past two years, potentially a result of today's employees working longer hours and being exposed to more electronic devices."

An easy way to counteract this eye strain is, simply, to take frequent breaks periodically through the day. These breaks will not only give your eyes time to recharge, but it also gives your brain time to recharge, making you more productive all around. Instead of spending breaks in front of one of your many devices, go for a walk, have a chat with a coworker or go grab a coffee. And, don't wait until your eyes are already feeling tired from staring at the glare of your screen.

It is also important for employers to provide ample benefits to employees, including optical insurance. Get regular eye tests and ensure, if you do wear glasses or contacts, that your prescription is up to date.