Italian researchers from the Occupational Medicine Institute at the University of Sassari have completed a study on the causes of visual fatigue for video display terminals (VDT) workers in office environments. Specifically, they examined the part played by psychological factors in complaints about visual health reported by banking officers who work at VDTs.
212 people were asked to respond to three different questionnaires on subjects of job stress, subjective discomfort related to environmental and lighting conditions, and existence of oculovisual
disturbances. Eye strain included itchy, sore, or heavy eyes, and blurred or double vision during or
immediately after work three or more times a week.
All subjects shared the same environment and work duties, and none had any history of eye problems.
The study found that social support, group conflict, self esteem, work satisfaction, and under use of skills were found to be predictors of visual complaints. Subjective environmental factors, although in
some cases significantly correlated with asthenopia, were not found to be strong predictors of the symptoms. Employees who felt they received social support were a third less likely to report eye
Lighting did not seem to affect levels of eye strain, but noise and environmental tobacco smoke did.
The researchers concluded that some part of the complaints about visual health reported by VDT workers are likely indirect expressions of psychological discomfort related to working conditions.
For more information see the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.