The 2001 U.S. Census Report stated that over 98 million American workers spend time at a computer every day. Both the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health report that a full 90 percent of workers who use computers with CRTs will experience eye strain and vision problems. They suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), which is characterized by eye fatigue, blurred vision, dry eyes, and headaches. The AOA reports that over 10 million patients a year schedule eye exams due to computer-related vision problems, and that correcting such problems can cost employers, health plans and workers a combined $2 billion a year. A Cornell University survey showed that eyestrain is the number one physical complaint of office workers. The AOA reports that CVS now holds the distinction of being "the number one occupational hazard of the 21st century."
The eyes lead the body... to pain
When vision is impaired, other functions will also be adversely affected. People who have problems focusing frequently hunch over to see better and therefore CVS is often accompanied by neck, back and shoulder pain. And for those who spend more than three hours a day at their computers, these symptoms are precursors of more far-reaching problems of low morale and decreased productivity. Laboratory studies cited in articles appearing in the Journal of the American Optometric Association indicate that with even smaller amounts of visual degradation productivity is decreases anywhere from 4 to 9 percent, costing businesses money. On a $40,000 salary these losses can be as high as $3,600.
CRT flickering punishing to your eyes
How do CRTs cause CVS? The CRT screen is a very different visual environment from the printed page. Made up of tiny dots or "pixels," the computer screen is difficult for the eyes to focus on steadily. There is a "halo" effect wherein the beam of light from the cathode ray tube bleeds around the pixels creating a slightly fuzzy image. Poor definition of these images, compared with the clarity of a printed page, causes the eyes to work harder. This forces the eye muscles to refocus continuously, subconsciously while we look at the computer screen. In addition, each time the CRT refreshes – hundreds of times per second – it flickers, causing further eye strain. All of this amounts to thousands of strenuous focusing cycles in a typical workday.
Flat panel monitors to the rescue
In offices across the world, bulky old flickering CRTs are being replaced with new sleek Flat Panel Monitors (FPM) with liquid crystal displays (LCD). These new monitors are not only great looking; they are a great improvement for your eyesight. The benefits of new flat panel monitors with LCD screens include:
• There is no screen flicker with flat panel technology, minimizing eye strain. • FPMs have a polarizing filter which sharpens the contrast behind the transistors or pixels, eliminating the "halo" effect. • FPMs minimize glare, greatly improving legibility under any kind of light. • The new technology creates significantly higher brightness, color, and contrast ratios that improve resolution to create crisp images and text. • Unlike curved CRT screens, FPMs produce minimal distortion.
Benefits are enhanced with Monitor Arms
As good as a flat panel monitor is over a CRT, it is still limited when it is sitting on the work surface in a fixed position. However, when mounted on an articulating arm, the monitor can be ergonomically adjusted to the correct focal distance and axis of vision. There are monitor arms with up to five axis position adjustment and pneumatic counterbalance so the height, depth, and tilt angle can be easily adjusted as desired. It's easy to see why a flat panel monitor mounted on an arm creates the perfect new ergonomic tool for your work station and your eyes.
By Steve Baker
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Biography: Steve Baker is an industry consultant for SpaceCo Inc.
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