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Computers damage users’ eyesight

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A Japanese study presents evidence which shows that short-sighted computer users have an increased risk of contracting glaucoma.

Toho University School of Medicine in Tokyo conducted research which suggests that those with normal vision are not at risk but those who are short-sighted run the risk of developing the disease which can lead to blindness.

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye triggered by high pressures within the eyeball. The danger is that this pressure will exceed that in the small blood vessels inside the eye, preventing blood flow to the optic nerve and causing damage.

The affliction is more common in old age.

David Wright, chief executive of the International Glaucoma Association in Britain commented:

“This is the first evidence we have seen of a link between the use of computers and glaucoma, but the widespread use of computers is at unprecedented levels and it is perfectly reasonable to expect some effect on the visual system. The strongest ‘glaucomatous’ link reported in the paper is that between myopia (short sight) and glaucoma, and this is not surprising as it is already well established that high myopia is a risk factor for glaucoma.”

Wright recommends any heavy computer users to take an eye test to detect early signs of the disease, but warns:

“It is important to note that in the UK only one glaucoma test is a mandatory part of the eye test (this being ophthalmoscopy – a visual examination of the optic disc) and that on its own, this test will only detect about 25% of detectable glaucomas. Two additional tests are required in order to achieve the best practical detection of glaucoma, these being tonometry, which is a measurement of the intraocular pressure and perimetry, which checks for visual field anomalies (as used in Japan (the FDT test).”

The researchers questioned more than 9,000 workers from the electronics and steel industries. Some of the sample were regular computer users while some were not. The risks of glaucoma were found to be 82% higher in those who were heavy computer users.

For further information on glaucoma or to arrange a test for the condition see: www.glaucoma-association.com

One Response

  1. Effects of computer use on eyesight
    This should really be of no surprise to any intensive computer user.

    As an Occupational Psychologist I have advised many companies on the ergonomics design of workstations. It is quite alarming the number of companies that pay little consideration to the Health and Safety issues. Even when the better companies ensure that decent workstations and lighting is installed and initial training is given the interest soon peters out and staff and management become complacent.
    I have often argued that the size and definition of most VDUs is inadequate for the tasks performed by many users. Many of the basic principles were laid down when 14” monitors and DOS were the norm. Now we have screens littered with the icons and menus that modern software provides. Many users still have 15” monitors and experience a significantly reduced ‘work-space’ on the screen. This results in both eyestrain and inefficiency.

    Anecdotally, my own case illustrates the point. When I established my own consultancy business 12 years ago 14” VDUs were the norm. I paid a substantial premium for upgrade to a 15” VDU. A lot of my work involved detailed graphic and statistical processes on the VDU. Being aware of the dangers, as wellas a family history of glaucoma I carefully monitored the situation. Over the next 4 years my eyesight progressively deteriorated every year to the point that I was getting new glasses every six months. I then decided to pay out a substantial sum for a rare 17” VDU. The deterioration slowed down and only needed new lenses every 12 months. I then invested further in a 21” monitor. Lo and behold I needed new lenses, not because of deterioration but because my sight was gradually improving. Productivity also improved several fold – one could then see two A4 pages on the screen and easily edit without having to continually scroll back and forth or have two applications open side by side (e.g. copying from Excel into Word). In some processes the productivity improvement can be between 200 and 300 percent. However, you and try and persuade many employers of this productivity benefit, apart from staff welfare, and the reaction is invariably negative.

    I believe the case is well proven but few seem to want to listen.

    Know of any reasonably priced 23” or 25” monitors?

    Bernard Stewart
    Integrated Performance Development
    Email: [email protected]

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