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The blinking obvious solution to IT-induced headaches

Are you stressed at work, suffering from headaches, have sore eyes and keep wanting to hit your head against a brick wall?

Those symptoms could be related to the new GP contract that’s due to kick off in April.

But it could also be your computer screen that is causing them - there is even a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) to describe this malady. (Don't try and look for a READ code for it, I've already checked and there isn't one).

GPs, nurses and administrative staff spend a significant part of their time sitting in front of a computer and that is an unhealthy thing to do all day but there are some simple steps that can help reduce eye strain or CVS:

  • Reduce glare by positioning your screen in such a way there is no or minimal reflected light from windows or strip lights.
  • Adjust the display to ensure the screen is neither too bright nor too dark and that the text size is large enough to read easily at your normal working distance.
  • Make sure your screen is large enough to allow a comfortable viewing distance. There is no specific guidance on screen size but commercial recommendations are for 19” screens and my local IT department only supplies this size now. It should be possible to make sure all your old 17" screens should be replaced with larger ones.
  • Consciously try and blink more often.  Studies have shown we blink five times less than normal when staring at a screen which leads to tear film breakdown and evaporation.  This is even more important for contact lens wearers.

So I hate to ask, but has your practice made a risk assessment regards CVS as part of CQC registration? Have you disposed of all your old Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) screens? Are all your  screens big enough?

A useful resource on this is the HSE publication, 'The law on VDUs', free to download from the HSE web site. Follow this simple advice and you may reduce your eye strain.

However, the wish to hit your head against a brick wall will probably be still due to the contract changes.

Dr Hadrian Moss is a GP in Kettering, Northamptonshire. You can tweet him at @DrHMoss.