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Computers make you blind: official

Add glaucoma to the threat list

We all know that prolonged computer use can cause RSI, back trouble, high blood pressure and steam to vent from both ears, but it appears that's the least of our worries, because we'll soon all be blind and that will be an end to it.

According to a Japanese study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, relentlessly hammering the PC may contribute to the onset of glaucoma - a nasty disease which progressively damages the optic nerve and eventually leads to blindness. The researchers - led by Dr Masayuki Tatemichi of Toho University School of Medicine - tested the eyesight of a total of 10,000 staff at four Japanese companies. They found that 522 of their guinea pigs demonstrated "visual field abnormalities" - aka "sight defects" to the man in the street.

The scientists reckon there is a significant link between these defects and heavy computer use by those who are also long or short-sighted. Furthermore, 165 of those demonstrating visual field abnormalities already showed signs of glaucoma - especially those suffering from short-sightedness.

The team classified level of computer use by dividing it into blocks ranging from less than five years to in excess of 20. Time per session - from one hour to more than eight - was then factored in to categorise the subjects as light, medium or heavy users. The majority of heavy users are young men, the report adds.

The main conclusion of the study is: short-sighted heavy computer users are most at risk from developing glaucoma. The scientists suggest that the optic nerve in short-sighted users might be more sensitive to "computer stress". Their report concludes: "Computer stress is reaching higher levels than have ever been experienced before. In the next decade, therefore, it might be important for public health professionals to show more concern about myopia and VFA [visual field abnormalities] in heavy computer users." ®

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