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The computer and your health

By Odunayo Talabi

The use of computer has become part of our everyday life. Be it smart phones, laptops or desk top, information technology has succeeded in revolutionizing the very way we live our lives. From simple typing to surfing the internet or online shopping, an average individual spends substantial hours on the internet using various forms of computer. Statistics abound to prove this. For example, more than 70% of children belong to one social network or the other, while 25% of girls and 20% of boys between age 9 and 14 are said to have a computer and spend at least one hour per day on the internet.

It is therefore not a surprise that computer use also have its health implications. Such implications lead to emerging symptoms, which range from mild to severe. Let us take a look at some of these computer -linked infirmities include.

 

Visual problems

Sitting behind the screen of a computer for hours expose the eyes to unhealthy rays and leads to fatigue of the eye muscles from intense focusing. This can lead to various problems of vision known collectively as computer visual syndromes (CVS). CVS could lead to red and watery eyes, photophobia (pain or discomfort on exposure to sunlight or bright lights), dry eyes, double vision, temporary short sightedness, and tired eyes.

 

How to prevent this

Keep the computer screen 16-30 inches away from the eyes and 20 degrees below eye level, Attach antiglare to the computer, direct lights away from the computer screen and keep the screen away from sunlight. Also use specialized tinted glasses to shield your eyes from direct exposure to the screen.

Postural problems

The use of laptops especially, predisposes the user to sitting and barely moving behind a system for long hours. This is more so when the seat being used is not ergonomical. Also, abnormal positioning of the hands and legs in this situation can lead to various musculoskeletal disorders affecting the muscles involved. Such challenges include headaches and neck pain, back pain, as well as pain in the arm or legs.

 

How to prevent this

Use suitable seats that are adjustable, use seats with lumbar support and comfortable/adjustable arm rest, keep feet resting flat on the floor or on a foot rest, and keep the knee at a right angle.

 

Repetitive stress injury

In computer use, fine muscles of the hands are repeatedly used, pressed against hard surfaces, exposed to vibrations or kept in perpetually awkward position. This exposes them to musculoskeletal and nervous injury and leads to pain in the hand, poor grip, and numbness.

 

How to prevent this

Keep the arm in the most comfortable position, and keep the wrist straight

Psychological effect

This is common with internet users and the negative effects are more pronounced in young people in school, who after sometimes literally get addicted to the internet. These effects include lying about the amount of time or actions taken on the internet, withdrawal from friends and relatives and disobedience to parents, lack of interest in their appearance and hygiene, falling of school grades, and change in sleeping habits with attendant tiredness.

 

How to prevent this

Parents should monitor the use of internet use by youngsters.

Generally, ergonomics should be considered in procuring furniture for office use. This is important as a substantial part of waking hours are spent in the office and behind a desk. It is also imperative to take breaks in between working on the computer or the internet. Other adaptive technologies such as special keyboards and automatic break timers should also be considered.

 

Conclusion

When symptoms persist despite adequate preventive measures, it is good to visit the hospital for proper diagnosis in order to rule out other possible causes of symptoms.

Published in the Business Eye’s print version, August 2016 edition.

 

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