Guarding your health on the job

By Han Manman (Beijing Today)
Updated: 2008-05-04 10:30

Are you spending one third to one half of your day at work in an office? If so, is this routine making you physically ill?

From the uncomfortable chairs and poor air quality to depression-inducing stress, your workplace might be worse for your health than you think.

You may be able to identify with some of the following office workers' problems. We will try to help you get to the root of these problems and provide ways that may help reduce them and promote good health and well-being.

Peeper pressure

Example: Luo Minhan, IT Company

I am so nervous about someone suddenly walking up and talking to me when I am staring at my computer. When we are talking, we need to make eye contact, but moving my eyes continually from my computer to converse with somebody makes them very dry. To compensate my body forces my eyes to water and it appears that I am crying. It's embarrassing.

Expert opinions: According to an ophthalmology study, computer users risk tired, red, burning eyes leading to blurred or double vision. People blink up to 60 percent less often when looking at a computer screen, causing dry-eye symptoms.

To protect yourself, look away from the screen and at a distant object at least every 30 minutes. Use eye drops sparingly if you feel eye strain. And if you wear reading glasses and work at a computer more than one hour a day, researchers recommend a pair of glasses especially designed for the distance between you and the screen.

The mouse that roars

Example: Lin Chen

It recently has become very difficult for me to communicate with people through MSN and emails, because my right hand is in constant pain and I don't know why! When client pressure is added to hand pain, I almost lose it.

Expert opinion: You may have a disease called "mouse hand," which results from repetitive use of the mouse without a break. Although, there are many possible interventions, there is only one that is guaranteed to prevent your mouse from hurting you- reduce mouse use with keyboard shortcuts.

Common recommendations are to interrupt prolonged computer use for 5 minutes every hour and/or 10 seconds every 10 minutes.

The more frequently you take these breaks, the shorter the total break time needs to be.

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