Manufacturing leaders are frequently asked what their "vision" is for their companies, which generally means strategic directions, new product developments, global expansion, workforce enablement, and all those other "big idea" concepts that reassure Wall Street analysts that, yes indeed, we've got a plan in place here to make more money next year than we're making this year.
But now there's a study which, if nothing else, has to be one of the most definitive reports ever on the state of vision, called "The Vision in Business." However, before you click over to take a closer look (pun intended) at this report, keep in mind that this report takes the word "vision" literally. The main contention of this report is that uncorrected vision problems are contributing to decreased employee productivity and performance.
"Uncorrected vision problems are costing employers billions of dollars," reports Ed Greene, CEO of the Vision Council of America (VCA) "Direct medical costs associated with vision disorders exceed similar medical expenditures for breast cancer, lung cancer and HIV, yet few Americans get regular eye exams or have vision coverage in their health plans."
According to the VCA study, workers ranging from engineers, construction workers, stockbrokers, software developers, to accountants and administrative assistants are among those most at risk for developing vision problems that affect their work performance. The report tends to veer on the sensational, as all health-related reports typically do (the better to draw attention to the problem, I guess), emphasizing that "the annual financial burden of major adult vision disorders exceeds $50 billion." It's left somewhat ambiguous as to what exactly constitutes a "vision problem." We're told, for instance, that "vision problems are the second most prevalent health problem in the country, affecting more than 120 million people." I wear glasses, as I suspect many of you do, which I guess puts us all in the category of "vision problem sufferers."
One startling statistic: There are nearly 800,000 work-related eye injuries each year. That huge number, presumably, includes computer-related eye strain, which apparently afflicts anybody who uses a computer at least three hours a day. Again, that includes me, and probably just about everybody reading these words.
In any event, the VCA report offers the following eyecare tips:
Tips for Employers:
● Offer vision coverage as part of a health care package.
● Ensure a safe working environment with mandatory eye protection as needed.
● Encourage regular eye exams for employees.
Tips for Employees:
● When working on a computer take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and look at something at least 20 feet away.
● Those who wear glasses should talk to their eyecare professional about anti-reflective lenses to reduce glare, eye strain and fatigue.
● Wear protective eyewear that meets the approval of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), marked "ANSI Z87."