65% of radiologists suffer 'computer vision syndrome,' prompting researchers to call for action

Researchers are calling for preventative measures and legislative action after a new analysis revealed that more than 65% of radiologists suffer from computer vision syndrome, according to a study published in Academic Radiology

The American Optometric Association defines computer vision syndrome (CVS) as a “group of eye- and vision-related problems that result from prolonged exposure to digital display devices.” Symptoms range from dry, tired and sore eyes to side effects as severe as blurred and double vision.

The condition has become a problem for radiologists in recent years as the specialty transitioned from interpreting physical film to reading images on computer screens.

“Excessive exposure to monitors is an important factor that may predispose and lead radiologists to develop CVS,” explained Ayman S. Alhasan, with the Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging at Taibah University in Saudi Arabia, and Waseem A. Aalam, MD, with the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Jeddah in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

For the study, a web-based survey was distributed to all radiologists and radiology residents practicing in Saudi Arabia. Out of the 416 respondents who participated in the survey, 65.4% showed CVS.

When broken down by severity and symptom progression, mild CVS was observed in 188 participants, while 69 were considered to have a moderate case. Severe CVS was noted in 15 participants, and researchers revealed that women appeared to be more susceptible. 

Radiologists who spent fewer than 20 hours per week in front of a monitor were less at risk. 

The most common symptoms documented were headache, dryness and burning of the eyes. However, over half of those with confirmed CVS experienced blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light.

Regarding preventative measures, the authors suggest taking frequent breaks, hydrating, minimizing the use of digital devices outside of work, keeping a record of eye symptoms related to work and undergoing a periodic eye examination. 

They also point to legislation in Europe that requires employers to provide regular eye examinations. The team proposes that this become the standard for protecting radiologists’ vision.

You can read the detailed study here

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