Visual Fatigue Syndrome

by Federico Bartolomei

A few rules for an appropriate use of the videoterminal.

The new work demands and the habits linked to leisure time have brought a growing dissemination of the personal computer. This activity has more and more people subjecting their eyes to frequent strain and longer use. This overload of work can lead to an actual syndrome of "visual tiredness" which, no fear, gets better after a few hours following the end of the tasks. It often happens to many of us to experience at the end of the day some of these symptoms: difficulty reading, visual tiredness, heaviness, lachrymation, burning sensation, headache, etc.
To reduce to the minimum the possibility to experience these complications, there are many adaptations that can be done. Lighting is a factor that cannot be neglected. The work environment always needs to be uniformly lit. The light has to be placed in the right direction, not towards the face of the user, and the reflecting rays from the monitor and the office equipment have to be avoided. For this, there are filtering lenses for glasses, purposely designed to minimize and decrease the impact of the artificial light.
We should have no scruples about taking breaks from work. It is necessary to periodically take a break from the strain of working up close. To look at a distant object (at least 4-5 meters) will also allow one to relax tensions linked to posture. When one needs to perform work requiring a high degree of attention, the frequency with which one opens and closes the eyes can be five times less than normal.

Picture - Worker at a videoterminal

The adoption of low heat emitting light sources and the habit of winking more often will reduce the discomfort that comes from an excessive evaporation of the lachrymal film which has the task to provide nutrients, lubrification and protection of the cornea. Of course, we cannot leave out of consideration the certainty that our eyes are in good health and that eventual visual defects are adequately diagnosed and corrected. It is good to remember to periodically visit an eye specialist to exclude the presence of diseases and simple refraction vices that are not corrected and that can cause visual discomfort.
For the choice of the eventual glasses or contact lenses, it is always advisable to consult with the specialist to identify the most adequate aid for the use it is meant for.
And for those who have severe eye problems that are not curable or corrigible with normal lenses? If the characters on the screen are difficult to read, there exists software able to enlarge the visual objects on the screen, change the contrast, the colour, or communicate its content with a voice synthesis.
The new computer technologies have certainly allowed a higher dissemination and a better enjoyment of the PC as well as more and more available shareware. Those who use this instrument must however take into consideration the necessary precautions to preserve their visual health.