So, you spend all or part of your day working with computers. Then take notice, a new Japanese study has found that computer use may be linked to the development of glaucoma (an increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that may lead to loss of vision), especially among those who are short sighted. The study is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Glaucoma is relatively common eye disease that develops very slowly, characterised by progressive sight defects or visual field abnormalities over time. Its exact cause is unknown, although potential risk factors, including smoking and high blood pressure, have been suggested.
The research team tested the sight of workers in four different Japanese companies, employing over 5000 people each.
In all, some 10,000 workers, with an average age of 43, were randomly selected for testing as part of a general medical check-up. They also completed questionnaires about their computer use, both at home and at work, and any history of eye disease.
Computer use was categorised in blocks of five years, ranging from less than five years, to more than 20 years, as well as the average amount of time spent at the screen per session, ranging from 1 hour to more than 8 hours at a time. Those classified as heavy users tended to be men and younger.
The test revealed that 522 (5.1%) employees had visual field abnormalities. And there appeared to be a significant link between these and heavy computer use among those with either long or short sight, collectively known as “refractive errors.”
An in-depth eye test pinpointed revealed that around a third of these workers (165) had suspected glaucoma, characterised by distinct visual field abnormalities. And there also appeared to be a significant link between these and heavy computer use among workers who were short sighted.
In fact, the most common refractive error was short sightedness, leading the authors to speculate that the optic nerve in short sighted eyes might be more vulnerable to computer stress than it is in normal eyes.