MIKA & Me urges employers to reassess eyesight duty of care post-COVID

Eye check

Employers are being urged to reassess how they look after their workers’ eyesight as evidence grows that people’s vision is affected by the length of time spent in front of screens as they work from home during COVID-19.

There is a growing concern about the anecdotal evidence linking intensive screen use and deteriorating eyesight. Employers need to be encouraged to do everything they can to protect employees’ eyesight and glasses are a great solution for this.

Under UK law, companies and organisations have a duty of care to manage the ‘optical risk’ of their staff if they spend more than an hour a day working in front of a computer or device. Historically, responsible employers provided a basic pair of glasses if an employee requested it; this is no longer seen as good enough where employees are expected to spend more time on screens than ever before and the evidence is unclear as to whether this is impacting their eyesight.

Wendy Bremner, an optometrist for 30 years, said: “Firms have found it harder to manage screen use during lockdown as workers spent much of 2020 and 2021 working in front of a screen at home, for instance, on back-to-back video calls rather than face-to-face meetings.”

Such intensive screen use can result in changes to their eyesight – a condition opticians are dubbing ‘coronavision’. Last year the College of Optometrists commissioned an independent study of 2,000 people which found one in five adults in the UK said they thought their vision had become worse during lockdown, with one in three blaming extra screen time.

Further evidence from the US and South Korea also found that intensive screen use is resulting in near epidemic prevalence of myopia, or short sightedness, among younger people. Most employers are aware of the potential risk but are not sure what to do next.

Wendy, a director of Glasgow’s MIKA & Me, believes a simple solution for companies to start to manage their ‘optical risk’ is to team up with local opticians to monitor the optical health of every staff member who uses a screen for work.

She said: “Together we can work to make sure workers’ eyesight is being properly looked after. As opticians, this would involve making sure an employer’s ‘screen users’ are getting regular eye tests, assess if glasses for screens are required from their prescription, and ensure screen users are issued with the correct lenses.

“A monthly report detailing if staff members are nearing or past their two year appointments will give business owners comfort that their optical health of their employees is timely and consistent and we can help monitor changes in eyesight and prescription.

“Our system is a simple, fast and effective way for employers to actively manage their optical risk.”

The effectiveness of this is coupled with MIKA & Me’s ability to provide new glasses in superfast time.

Wendy added: “Our ability to provide high quality, digitally fitted glasses quickly is a huge plus for employers as it puts them back in control and significantly minimises any time gap between a change in prescription for a screen user and the collection of their new screen use spectacles.”

For further information go to www.mikaandme.com

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