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Vision Assessment in the Workplace

accommodation ergonomics health and safety return to work Apr 18, 2024
Vision Assessment in the Workplace


An increasing number of employees are seeking support for vision-related concerns that impact their work and everyday activities. According to the 2022 Canadian Survey of Disability with Statistics Canada, 7.4% of Canadians aged 15 and over have a seeing disability, and 93% of these individuals noted that they use one more aid in their daily life.1 Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 55 and affects over 2.5 million Canadians.2 Canadians over the age of 55 account for 35% of the current workforce.3

Eye care and vision has never been a national priority, until now. Bill C-284, an Act that calls for establishing a national eye care strategy, was introduced on June 14, 2022, and received unanimous support in the House of Commons. The Act is currently awaiting its second reading with the Senate before the Act can be passed.

With Bill C-284’s mission in mind to support the prevention and treatment of eye disease as well as vision rehabilitation, it is timely for employers to consider how they can be proactive in the fight against vision loss. Supporting employees facing vision-related work challenges can start with sharing educational resources or may look like engaging a healthcare specialist, such as an Occupational Therapist. It simply starts with asking employees an important question: “How is your vision”?


Vision Support in the Workplace

Employers should advocate for employees experiencing vision problems and seek adaptive strategies to support them in the workplace. The support needed will vary from employee to employee depending on their level of visual proficiency. An employee needing support may not always be obvious, which is why vision should always be considered as part of an Occupational Therapy assessment. Disregarding this dominant sense can have significant impacts on many aspects of overall function.


Prevention and Early Detection

At this stage, an employee may not notice significant vision problems or may be noticing subtle changes in their vision, such as difficulty reading small print, experiencing eye strain, or noticing blurry vision at certain distances. Supporting an employee facing these challenges may include education on the importance of taking breaks from screen time, completing regular eye exercises, and practicing proper ergonomics to reduce visual fatigue.

Even slight vision impairments can make a big difference in an employee's capability to perform their job. An employee with reduced vision may bend or crane their neck towards their screen, leading to awkward and uncomfortable positioning. Frequent eye strain can result in visual fatigue resulting in difficulty completing near vision work tasks. An ergonomic assessment may reveal the need for workstation or environmental modifications in order to enhance visual tasks, reduce eye fatigue, and facilitate correct body positioning.



An employee experiencing vision loss may come forward identifying their need for support. Or it may be a manager who notices that an employee is struggling to complete some facets of their job. Vision-related issues can appear in a multitude of ways that may not be immediately obvious. Poor vision can lead to increased errors, such as typos in written documents, errors in data entry, or mistakes in quality control checks. Difficulty reading can also lead to reduced work pace, difficulty reading through instructions, reduced concentration, increased risk of safety hazards, and more.

However, without understanding the cause of this declined work function, it would be difficult to know what kind of tools and strategies are needed. That’s why an accommodation assessment of the worker, work tools and processes, and workstation is important. If declined performance is vision-related, there are many types of visual accommodations that can be provided, including adaptive strategies, assistive technology, and environmental adjustments.


Visual Demands

An employer may need a clear understanding of the visual demands of a job and the visual risks in their workplace for legal compliance, accommodation, pre-placement, and return to work planning. To ensure a healthy fit for employees working in more visually demanding positions, such as technology, quality, inspection, or precision manufacturing, you may want to contact an Occupational Therapist to conduct a preplacement vision screening process. An optometrist or low-vision specialist may be required to conduct a more in-depth, comprehensive assessment to determine if an employee's visual ability matches a job’s requirements. Working together, Occupational Therapists and optometrists can co-create a Visual Demands Analysis report that can clearly outline the visual demands placed on an individual and any challenges or barriers that may impact safety or performance.


How Can Gowan Consulting Help?

Occupational Therapists employ a variety of standardized assessments to comprehensively evaluate visual skills. These assessments offer a structured framework for observing and measuring different aspects of functional vision, enabling us to identify strengths, limitations, and opportunities for remedial or compensatory intervention. By analyzing assessment data in conjunction with employee goals and functional needs, Occupational Therapists can develop targeted interventions tailored to each individual. These interventions may include environmental modifications, assistive technology recommendations, provision of strategies for incorporating visual supports into daily routines, and providing education to employers.

Contact us to learn more about how Gowan Consulting’s Occupational Therapists can support your employees’ vision needs in the workplace.



[1] Wallace, S., & Vachon, M. (2024, February 26). 2022 Canadian Survey of Disability [Conference presentation]. White Cane Week 2024 Conference, Ottawa, ON, Canada.

[2] Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC). (2024, January 12). Age-related macular degeneration.

[3] Statistics Canada. (2024, February 9). Labour force characteristics by age group, monthly, seasonally adjusted. Government of Canada.