Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 153 million people have eye health concerns, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness that are not related to age1.
These preventable, diagnosable and treatable conditions equate to over $269 billion in lost productivity2.
It’s easy to become alarmed by large numbers like these, but how does this manifest in our daily lives at work, school, home and elsewhere? Where could you, your children or your employees be losing major productivity due to vision loss?
Let’s take a closer look.
1) Missing important information
You’re in an important meeting. Your boss has a presentation up on the screen. She points out something important.
You can’t see it. What do you do?
You might ask someone sitting next to you and disrupt the meeting. You might ask someone later, hoping they remember. You might think you could see it and then unintentionally not follow the guidance later.
This could play out many ways, but regardless of how it unfolds, it creates confusion, mistakes and misunderstandings that kill productivity.
This could just as well be your child in a classroom making the same mistakes because of vision loss.
While it may be difficult to put a solid dollar amount on this, it demonstrates why the WHO’s study found that we’re sacrificing so much productivity to poor vision.
2) Being accident-prone
Have you noticed that the street signs aren’t as clear as they once were? Maybe it’s worse at night. You aren’t as quick to respond to road hazards.
You may think it’s not so bad – that is until you have an accident.
Studies suggest that as many as 3% of drivers are driving with vision below the legal standards3. This may be you and you don’t even realize it.
In this instance, vision loss contributes to:
- Abrupt and possibly unsafe stops
- Missing stop signs or other road guidance
- Missing turns
- Getting lost
- Potential for increased accidents
Driving is only one type of accident caused by poor vision. The same may happen when you make mistakes at home or work because you can’t see. Accidents take time to fix and kill productivity.
Maintaining your vision will help you stay productive.
3) Poor ergonomics for hyperopia
Many of us spend our days working on computers that are approximately 20 inches from our eyes. If you have hyperopia (farsightedness), this may be just within the area that you cannot see well.
The solution may be reading glasses, but reading glasses aren’t intended for viewing straight across. They were designed for downward viewing. This can lead wearers to adjust their necks back to see.
Or you may not have glasses so you arch your neck back to make distance in order to see.
Even if you personally don’t have hyperopia, we’ve all seen people arch their necks in this way.
This leads to4:
- Neck discomfort and pain
- Slower reading and reaction time
- Need to constantly shift positions to see near and far
In the long term, ergonomics challenges create distractions that make it difficult to be productive.
4) Poor ergonomics with myopia
Those with myopia (nearsightedness) often lean forward toward their screens or any work they might be doing.
This leads to:
- Slower reading and reaction time
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Need to constantly adjust to see near and far
Presenteeism is a buzz word among employers that means that the employee is at work, but they’re distracted or other otherwise not up to their full potential5.
Vision loss is a major cause of presenteeism. When you’re having trouble seeing, you have trouble focusing on things. Because you can’t focus, you get easily distracted.
You may experience more eye strain or muscle pain that requires you to take more frequent breaks.
You may get discouraged when you make mistakes or need to repeat activities because of vision impairment.
Another aspect of productivity is absenteeism6. If you’re accident-prone, have poor ergonomics and are distracted, this will lead to events or medical issues that require that you take time off work.
Overall productivity suffers.
Eye health & productivity
Vision loss can impact all aspects of productivity from the seemingly small to the costly. By investing in our vision, we invest in our time and productivity. We can get more done and spend more time enjoying life.