Your Eyes & the Computer Screen [Archives:1998/34/Health]

August 24 1998

Mustafa Hasson,
MBCO MCoptom BSc {hons}, London.
For the past 8 years, computers have been and still are playing an important role in Yemen. More and more medical, business and commercial centers now have at least one system installed for their respective needs. You now have computer programmers, computer engineers, office and home computer operators who work with the computer screen almost everyday. They, for the whole day, victimize themselves unknowingly to various physical and musculo-skeletal problems, to allergic manifestations as skin rashes, headaches and eyestrain problems that include tiredness, irritation, soreness and a sensitivity to light.
Problems such as these can reduce the efficiency of copunter operators. Errors are likely to increase as well as increased absence through sickness.
In this article I aim at giving a few tips to employers and VDU [visiual display unit] users who experience some of the symptoms listed above as to how they can overcome these problems.
Computer screen users are more prone to eyestrain than the average worker. The most common causes are fault on focusing the eye due to not wearing prescribed spectacles, the eyes not working “as a team,” incorrect positioning of the documents, unsuitable lighting, poorly designed work area, flicker on the VDU, lack of adequate maintenance and poor placing of the VDU and the keyboard, but most importantly, a smoky environment.
All of these can be corrected by giving more attention to the work area and by regularly visiting to an ophthalmic practitioner (OP), not an ophthalmologist, who should do a ten point eye examination and advise with the appropriate measures to be taken.
Ideally employers should provide their employees who use a VDU with an appropriate eye test which should be carried out by an OP. Since here in Yemen there is a lack of ophthalmic practitioners, I myself have designed a computer program in England which can be installed on a personal computer. It provides some tests that can be performed by the operator on the computer screen itself, grade the performance, and decide whether a further ophthalmic referral is required.