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Are Computers
24/7
Eye OK?
Are your eyes dry, red, sore, or tired?
Do you have a headache, or back and
neck pain? Is your vision blurred when
you look at the screen or look away?
Was that cursor really double for a split
second? Are you cranky at the end of
your workday?
VDT user, log on to this help menu!
All-day computer use is on the rise in the
21st century traditional office setting, and to
the call centre employee, data entry clerk and
online gaming operator, nine-hour computer
shifts are not unusual. This new “information
age” phenomenon of extended video display
terminal (VDT) use brings with it a growing
assortment of health problems often grouped
together as computer vision syndrome (CVS).
CVS is the number one job-related com-
plaint in US studies. Symptoms can include
eyestrain; headaches; blurred vision; double
vision; neck and back ache; dry, red eyes;
dizziness; and vomiting. Most office guides
are loaded with advice for the VDT user,
and lists of ergonomics and lighting do’s and
VDT. Characters on a computer monitor enough. Even minor uncorrected errors of
don’ts, but workers are still calling in sick and
are made up of many, many small dots called far-sightedness and astigmatism, previously
office productivity continues to plummet.
pixels. Pixels are brighter in the centre and ignored by you and your doctor, can be sig-
Here are some not-so-frequently mentioned
dimmer and fuzzier around the edges. This is nificant in causing computer eyestrain. Many
tips to VDT use.
a very different visual task than reading nor- computer users are also unaware that their
mal printed letters on a piece of paper. The eyes cross or drift apart intermittently while
eyes have to rock back and forth in order to looking at the screen.

lock onto the letters on the screen. In order
SPECIAL COMPUTER EYE EXAMS -
to keep focussed on the computer image, the
Eye exams for computer users should differ
human eye must refocus 15,000 to 20,000
from the regular eye examination because of
times during each workday at the computer.
the different tasks involved. Computer eye
Add the shifting of focus from the document
exams therefore have to be geared toward
back to the screen and this constant flexing of
ensuring eyes team precisely together, and
the focussing muscles is what causes a large
The eyes respond well to printed material
sustain the appropriate focus for the dura-
part of the fatigue.
that consists of solid black letters on a white
tion of the task. Special testing equipment
background. The eyes react very differently
UNCORRECTED VISION PROB- that can actually simulate a computer image
to electronically generated characters such
LEMS - because of the task involved in keep- is often used to test the eyes at the same dis-
as those displayed on a computer screen or
ing the computer image clear, 20/20 just isn’t tance as the patient’s computer screen. Many
36 | BusinessFocus • August/September 2008
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