Visual ergonomics

Information technology (IT) has increased and changed the load for individuals in the workplace. Small displays and small text size on many IT applications leads to a reduced viewing distance and poorer posture with increasing biomechanical and oculomotor loads as a result.

Mental stress related to the high amount of information contributes in parallel to increase the level of activity in the neck/shoulder/arm muscles. Demographic trends also mean that the proportion of older workers who regularly perform visually demanding work has increased. An often overlooked fact in this context is the relationship between a well-functioning visual system and the normal functions of the neck/shoulder area.

When the visual system’s muscles, sensory and/or perceptual functions are subjected to high levels of load that are outside that for which the eyes are evolutionarily adapted to cope with, muscle tension, aches and pains occur in the neck/shoulders.

However, the underlying mechanisms behind the links between contemporary vision requirements and neck/shoulder motor function have not been elucidated. Very few epidemiological studies have specifically focused on a possible association between visually demanding work and symptoms from the eyes and the neck/scapular region. Also, due to the cross-sectional design of most epidemiological studies, the issue of causation remains to be addressed. Workplace intervention studies have, in general, included simultaneous changes in multiple factors, e.g. lighting, workstation design, and use of VDT glasses.

Therefore, these studies contribute sparsely to disentangling the mechanisms explaining associations between oculomotor load and neck disorders. Even in laboratory experiments, the oculomotor and the musculoskeletal aspects of visual functioning have been addressed separately.

In sum, because the weight of current evidence points to a discernible yet complex connection between oculomotor load and activation of the neck and scapular the overall goal of programme B is to explore and describe linkages between visually deficient work conditions and its effects on musculoskeletal health and performance.

Principal investigator

Hans Richter


Research in this program

Published by: Zara Lindahl Page responsible: Magnus Isaksson Updated: 2017-11-30
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)