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Nowadays, using computers becomes a mere necessity rather than a luxury. Our daily activities mostly require the use of computers at work, studying, or making online transactions. The benefits computers can bring are undeniable. However, unknown to other users, there are some consequences that using computers can bring. This is the rationale why some computer users experience effects such as poor posture, strains, damaged eyesight, and arthritis. Although computer-induced health problems are also associated with ageing, there are still other factors that we should be aware of, especially at work, such as screen positions and workplace ergonomics.
It is important for computer users to become aware of some computer-related health issues so that proper solutions can be administered.
#1 Vision problems
Vision problems are usually caused by inadequate lighting, screen glare, bright lights, and improper viewing distance. People who are working, studying and are constantly viewing their computer screen for long hours are at risk of acquiring vision problems.
In an article published by Healthline.com, digital eye strain is one of the common issues experienced by people who use computers and other gadgets in a prolonged period of time. Some eye strain symptoms include dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain.
"When you work at a computer, your eyes have to focus and refocus all the time. They move back and forth as you read. You may have to look down at papers and then back up to type. Your eyes react to images constantly moving and changing, shifting focus, sending rapidly varying images to the brain. All these jobs require a lot of effort from your eye muscles. And to make things worse, unlike a book or piece of paper, the screen adds contrast, flicker, and glare. What's more, it is proven that we blink far less frequently when using a computer, which causes the eyes to dry out and blur your vision periodically while working."
The article also added that computer jobs get more difficult as we age since the natural lenses in the eyes become less flexible. Besides, the ability to focus far or near objects will start to fade away.
When there is increased muscle tension and pain in the neck, headaches can occur. In addition, vision problems and constant strain on the eyes can also lead to headaches. There are also some observations that the kind of workplace where someone works contributes to a significant factor in the comfort and productivity levels. When there are noise and uncomfortable temperatures, there is a possibility that workers can also experience headaches.
#3 Repetitive Stress Injuries
Computer users may experience pain in the shoulders, neck, shoulders and even to their fingers. This may be due to the repetitive use of muscles. Using computers may also cause stiffness and swelling of the muscles. One of the various prevalent repetitive stress injuries related to using computers is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or CTS. CTS can be very painful, causing computer users to rest their arms and fingers to ease the pain.
#4 Musculoskeletal Problems
Musculoskeletal problems refer to the pain and discomfort experienced in the body's areas, including neck, back, shoulders, feet and arms. Other issues include numbness in the hands and arms. There are times sore muscles also become a common complaint of computer users. Musculoskeletal problems are commonly due to incorrect posture while typing or doing tasks using a computer. These problems may also occur when you are using an uncomfortable chair, or if your workplace does not apply proper ergonomics.
A study conducted on 1,700 people whose ages ranged from 19 to 32 found out that those with high social media usage felt that they are more socially isolated than those who spent less time on social media.
#5 Stress Disorders
There are workdays when tasks are so demanding and that your job becomes stressful. Technology also impacts our emotions and behaviours, especially when computers and gadgets suddenly stop working in the middle of an important task. Using computers for a long time, along with pressure and poor health, can lead to stress. When we are stressed, more severe problems can occur, such as lack of concentration, burnout, dizziness, decreased attention span, and anxiety.
#6 Increased Risks of Blood Clots
Being physically inactive leads to the build-up of blood cells that will gradually clot due to poor circulation. Blood clots should be properly treated since they can be life-threatening. They can affect the functions of the body's essential organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs. One way that can put you at risk of getting blood clots is sitting in one position for long hours (specifically 4 hours and more).
#7 Sleeping problems
If you're working at night shift, you may experience sleep problems. This is because the artificial lighting emitted by the computer screen tricks your brain by suppressing its release of melatonin. Melatonin is the substance that aids your sleeping patterns.
#8 Obesity and weight problems
Since prolonged use of computers results in a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activities, users can suffer from weight problems and obesity. When children are often using computers and other electronic gadgets, they become prone to obesity.
#8 Laptop injuries
Laptops are generally designed to be used for shorter periods compared to desktop computers. Since laptops are more convenient to use, more people choose to have them. However, there are issues associated with laptop usage: the keyboard and screen are very close; thus, the screen position may not be ideal for your neck and back. You will also need to lift your shoulders and arms a bit high to use the laptop. Unless you use a desk converter or a monitor mount, there will be other injuries that you may experience.
#9 Hearing loss due to using of headphones
There are times that you are required to use headphones, such as at work or in an online learning setup. Headphones are used mainly to concentrate better at work and prevent background noise from distracting you. Using headphones or earphones consistently and with a high volume can result in hearing loss or impairment.
All the conditions mentioned above related to computer usage can impact work productivity and efficiency. It can lead to lower work performance because the worker will not be able to work on the tasks effectively. When someone is suffering from headaches, the tendency is to pause working or take an absence of leave to rest. This can affect the productivity level of work. Also, when a person tries to continue working while having these computer-induced health problems, they may put their work at risk. Tasks may not be completed, or errors may be committed.
Below is an infographic on how to apply desk ergonomics to prevent computer-induced health problems.