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Original article

A pilot study of ocular symptoms experienced by visual display unit users


Jignasa Mehta ,

Division of Orthoptics, Thompson Yates Building, University of Liverpool, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L69 3GB, GB
About Jignasa

BSc (Hons)

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Anna R. O’Connor

Division of Orthoptics, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, GB
About Anna R.

PhD BMedSci (Hons)

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Aim: In recent years there has been a marked increase in the use of computers, and while they bring many benefits they are also associated with an increase in health risks, including visual disorders. The aim of this pilot study was to begin to examine the relationship between a wide range of ergonomic factors, work routine and ocular symptoms reported by visual display unit (VDU) users and to inform future research.

Methods: Questionnaires were distributed to 84 VDU users and workstations were analysed for illumina­tion, viewing distance, temperature and relative humidity on a subset of 45 VDU users. The questionnaire was used to determine age, gender, working conditions, work routine and ocular symp­toms experienced. Each VDU user had to indicate from a list of 10 ocular symptoms whether they experienced each symptom ‘before’, ‘during’ or ‘after’ VDU use.

Results: Eighty-three per cent of the VDU users reported at least one ocular symptom during or after VDU use, with headaches as the most frequent complaint. Ergonomic factors, illumination, tempera­ture, relative humidity and viewing distance were not associated with increased number of symptoms experienced by VDU users. However, women experi­enced almost twice as many symptoms as men and younger subjects reported more symptoms.

Conclusions: A high proportion of VDU users experienced ocular symptoms which were not related to environmental factors. Age and gender proved to be significant factors associated with VDU-related symptoms. The findings of the pilot study have highlighted the need to explore these significant factors and to include confounding variables such as psychosocial factors and employment status. Further work will also incorporate a full ocular assessment of VDU users to identify why particular VDU users have a predisposition to ocular symptoms.

How to Cite: Mehta, J. and O’Connor, A.R., 2007. A pilot study of ocular symptoms experienced by visual display unit users. British and Irish Orthoptic Journal, 4, pp.70–75. DOI:
Published on 01 Jan 2007.
Peer Reviewed


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