Male businessman with glasses focusing on computer

Vision Problems Negatively Impacting Productivity

If you can’t see well, it’s hard to work well. There are a number of studies that show how poor vision leads to poor performance, draining productivity and robbing you of much needed time in your day. Whether your eyeglass lens prescription is slightly off, or you are suffering from eyestrain and fatigue, or even headaches, these vision-related issues can cost you big time. Here’s an overview of three common vision problems.

Trouble seeing up-close

A surprising 38 percent of Americans report some difficulty seeing up-close and 16 percent have trouble seeing far away. This is according to how people responded to the following questions posed by the CDC in its 2012 health survey: “How much difficulty, if any, do you have reading print in newspaper, magazine, recipe, menu, or numbers on the telephone?” and “How much difficulty, if any, do you have in recognizing a friend across the street?” In both cases, respondents were instructed, “If you wear glasses or contact lenses, answer questions as if you were wearing them.”

Just about everyone will have trouble seeing up-close after age 40…

More than four out of five adults need some kind of vision correction in their lifetime. Earlier in life, vision correction can help with trouble seeing up-close (due to hyperopia or farsightedness), trouble seeing far away (due to myopia or nearsightedness), general blurriness (due to astigmatism) or a combination of any of these. And, just about everyone will have trouble seeing up-close after age 40, when a condition known as presbyopia causes the lens of the eye to lose its ability to focus as well as in the past.

Proper eyeglasses or contacts can fix these problems, but many people have prescriptions that are out-of-date, so they still have trouble seeing up-close or far away even while wearing eyewear. Other people may not even realize they are seeing poorly, because they’ve never worn eyeglasses and haven’t had their vision checked.

Eyestrain & fatigue

Approximately 20 percent of Americans say they have problems with eyestrain and fatigue, which is caused by intense focusing of the eyes. This can occur when reading up-close or working on a computer for an extended period of time. It can also happen when the eye tries to adjust to glare or bright light outdoors. If not fixed, muscle fatigue from straining the eyes can cause blurred vision, and squinting to overcome this can cause headaches.

Eyestrain is the #1 complaint of computer workers…

Workers notice the impact of eyestrain and fatigue on the job. Eyestrain is the #1 complaint of computer workers, and more than half of employees are bothered by light at work.

Research shows that employees could save more than a minute per day if they didn’t have to take breaks due to tired eyes. That adds up to more than half a day per year! Research from Transitions Optical finds that 45 percent of employees take at least one break per day to rest their eyes because they hurt or feel tired. The average employee who takes breaks takes slightly more than three breaks per day. A break to rest tired eyes is likely to last approximately 20 seconds – since the average break recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology to reduce digital eyestrain is 20 seconds (every 20 minutes, looking at 20 feet away).

Debilitating headaches from light & glare

Almost everyone experiences headaches, which can be distracting and outright debilitating – leading to missed work and difficulties concentrating on the job. Of those who report headaches, nearly one in four say they experience headaches caused by light or glare.

Of all headaches, 5.4 percent are severe enough to cause productivity loss of 3.5 hours per week at work, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

90 percent of employees say headaches affect their work performance…

While 90 percent of employees say headaches affect their work performance, only 33 percent tell their employers, so it is likely a much bigger issue than most employers realize. Each year, headaches cost the nation $17 billion dollars in absenteeism, lost productivity and medical expenses, according to the National Headache Foundation.

For more information about vision conditions and to learn about their financial impact, it’s encouraged to visit Fit Fwd at There, you’ll find a wealth of materials that can help encourage a spirit of wellness, including calculators and supporting whitepapers.


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