A vision of health

3rd October 2014

From the moment we wake up to when we turn out the lights at night, our hectic lifestyles ensure that our eyes are always working hard.

Whether you're sitting in front of a computer screen, driving to a meeting or using your smartphone to browse the web, your eyesight is being put through its paces all day, every day. Everything, from what you eat to how much time you spend in the sun, can affect your eyes and put you at a higher risk of developing conditions that could damage your sight, such as cataracts and glaucoma. And what you do for a living can also have an effect, especially if your work revolves around using a computer screen or any other kind of visual display unit (VDU), such as a control panel, projector or tablet. Looking at a VDU for long periods of time requires your eyes to work overtime, as they need to focus on moving images or scrolling text, while frequently adjusting to glare and flicker. In time, this can lead to Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), which can cause not only eyestrain, but headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck and shoulder pain (American Optometric Association). Taking regular breaks away from your screen and eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants such as spinach and oily fish, can help keep your vision in good condition. Experts advise having an eye examination every two years, not only to test your sight, but also to check for other health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. For employers, keeping staff eye care in check is vital. Health and safety regulations dictate any employee who 'habitually' uses a VDU as a 'significant part of their job' can ask their employer to fund a full sight test. And if glasses are required for working at their usual screen, the company is obliged to meet the cost of the eyewear, too (Health & Safety Executive). Official BCC health cash plan provider Westfield Health is an official partner of National Eye Health Week. The Chamber Primary Health Plan, which is available to all members of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, provides employees with money back towards the cost of sight tests and eye wear. In addition, their hospital treatment insurance, which can be bought as a standalone product or in conjunction with the Chamber Plan, provides fast access to private surgical procedures such as cataracts removal. By putting health cover in place, employers can ensure that they're fulfilling their health and safety requirements, while ensuring their staff can cover the cost of any eyewear they require. For more information about the Chamber Plan, visit www.westfieldhealth.com/chamber

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