Visual Ergonomics Handbook by Jeffrey Anshel (CRC Press) If you are reading this book clearly and comfortably, then congratulations — your eyes are probably working well. Yet it's also most likely that you spend several hours per day staring at a computer screen (maybe even while reading this book). Viewing an electronic display screen varies significantly from reading text on paper and our eyes most often suffer for it. We need to address this problem and find out what can be done to make our computer viewing time more comfortable, as well as more productive.
Both optometrists and ergonomists realize that the eyes are a critical part of proper ergonomics. It has been said that the eyes lead the body, so one cannot rightfully be considered without the other. However, ergonomists often have just a rudimentary understanding of the human visual system. This text combines the efforts of leading experts in the fields of optometry, ergonomics, eye safety, and occupational medicine. It integrates their knowledge into a comprehensive, easy-to-read volume that is sure to appeal to all interested parties.
The first chapters deal with the eyes and visual system. Chapter 1 starts off with a historical perspective on how our vision and visual system are designed to work and how they have been challenged to keep up with our social development. Chapter 2 offers a simplified but thorough discussion of the process of eyesight and the components of the visual system. The level of discussion is such that the health and safety professional will feel confident in learning how the eyes work and why subsequent recommendations are justified.
Next comes a discussion of the technology behind computer displays. Because the images created on a monitor differ from standard ink-on-paper, the eyes adjust to the image differently. An explanation of the terminology and image generation for the older cathode-ray tube (CRT) and the newer liquid crystal display (LCD) technologies are discussed.
The next chapters discuss the environmental issues surrounding eye symptoms and vision in the workplace. It covers lighting, glare, monitor position, viewing distances, and other issues in detail.
The American Optometric Association has defined computer vision syndrome (CVS) as "that complex of eye and vision problems related to near work that are experienced during or related to computer use." A complete discussion of the signs and symptoms of this condition is detailed and reviewed.
Following this is a discussion of lighting issues surrounding display use in the workplace. One of the major differences between viewing a display screen and viewing printed matter is that displays are self-illuminated, whereas paper requires external illumination. We explore the details of the quality of light and how to properly light a workplace so that all areas are clear and comfortable. A section on glare in the workplace is also included to clarify the role of anti-glare filters for displays.
Because the visual system is integral with body posture, we also include a section on general ergonomic principles. We tie in these general ergonomic concepts with the impact they have on the vision of computer users and show how they depend on each other.
The next chapter discusses how vision examinations differ for computer users as opposed to more traditional examinations. This is meant to inform the health and safety professional as to what information is critical to describe to the doctor. A discussion of "computer glasses" and how they are to be used in the workplace is included.
In addition to computer use, the next chapter discusses eye safety in industrial settings. This area not only covers safety glasses but also includes government standards, types of equipment, visual considerations, contact lenses, and more.
While not specifically involved with current office ergonomic considerations, the effect of computer use on children is also pertinent to this discussion. A recent survey indicates that about 80% of children from the ages of 8 to 18 use computers on a regular basis. In addition, software makers now target their products for children as young as 18 months old! The future workforce is being created, and problems experienced while a young person will often carry over to productivity and performance in the workplace.
No discussion of ergonomics can be complete without including the economic impact of such programs in the workplace. Ergonomic considerations are often limited by the economics of a particular company. The book concludes with a discussion of these closely related issues.
The appendices include a computer vision questionnaire, an occupational vision questionnaire, resources for blind and visually impaired employees, a seal-of-approval list for antiglare filters from the American Optometric Association, a list of ergonomic accessories from various companies, and additional resources.
This book is a compilation of contributions from some of the best minds in the ergonomics community. While it is impossible to single out the best in any field, I feel confident that these professionals have significant contributions to make in the area of visual ergonomics. Following the Introduction is a roster of the contributors and short biographies noting their accomplishments.
Dr. Jeffrey Anshel is a 1975 graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1975 to 1977 in San Diego, where he established the Navy's first vision therapy center. He has written numerous articles regarding nutritional influences on vision, stress factors that affect visual performance, and computer vision concerns.
In 1990, Dr. Anshel published his first book titled Healthy Eyes, Better Vision, a layman's reference book containing useful information and practical advice regarding vision care. His second book, Visual Ergonomics in the Workplace, published by Taylor & Francis, offers scientific and practical information about the interaction between computers and the visual system. It is a comprehensive guide to the role of vision in the workplace. Smart Medicine For Your Eyes, Dr. Anshel's third book, is a resource of remedies using conventional, nutritional, and homeopathic eye treatments.
Dr. Anshel is the principal of Corporate Vision Consulting, where he addresses the issues surrounding visual demands while working with computers. His work includes a course for eyecare professionals through which he educates doctors on computer vision syndrome and a course on dry eye syndrome. He also offers corporations on-site consultations and seminars related to visual stress in the workplace. Dr. Anshel is an assistant professor at the Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, California, and currently maintains a full-service practice in Carlsbad, California.
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