Microscope operator rubbing his eyes due to eyestrain

ERGONOMICS

How do you avoid eyestrain in microscopy?

Eyestrain is very common when working with microscopes.

Here's simple exercises and changes you can make to your setup to avoid eyestrain.

In a survey among microscope operators, 80% reported that they experience work-related pain. 20-50% of those 80% reported to experience eyestrain specifically.

With eyestrain being so prevalent among microscope operators, a key aspect of focusing on microscope ergonomics is looking into what can be done to reduce this specifically.

In this blogpost, we’ll look at different ways you can avoid eyestrain in microscopy:

Different ways to avoid eyestrain in microscopy

There’s various things you can do to avoid eyestrain when working with a microscope. They range from small exercises that you can do at the microscope to bigger changes to your overall setup.

Let’s start with the small exercises.

Eye exercises

The first thing to try if you want to avoid eyestrain is doing small exercises. They don’t take long and can be easily worked into your routine. Below we’ve listed 4 refreshing eye exercises that’ll help you relieve work-related eyestrain.

 

1. Palming

The first exercise is called Palming and simply involves taking the heat from your hands and placing it over your eyes. To do the exercise, start by rubbing your hands together to create a bit of heat. Then, close your eyes and place the palm of your hands over your eyes for a few minutes. The heat from your hands will relax the muscles around the eyes and reduce eye fatigue.

 

2. Blinking

You might not consider it an exercise, but simply blinking will actually help reduce eyestrain. When using a microscope eyepiece, you might forget to blink which in turn will dry out your eyes. Taking a few moments to blink and rehydrate your eyes can therefore help reduce eyestrain as well.

 

3. Change focus

Take a few moments to look around the room. Find an object that’s close to you and let your eyes focus on it for a few seconds. Then, find an object that’s further away and focus on that for a few seconds. Do this a couple of times to relax your eyes. You can also hold a piece of paper up to read a few sentences before lowering the paper and focusing on an object that was otherwise hidden by the paper.

 

4. Eyerolls

The last exercise is similar to rolling your shoulders to help them relax. For this purpose, close your eyes to roll them clockwise before rolling them counterclockwise. We recommend doing this a couple of times.

Illustration of microscope operators and how different systems affect their posture

Take breaks and take turns

If the small breaks you get from doing eye exercises aren’t enough, taking actual time away from the microscope can also help avoid eyestrain.

Instead of doing multiple hours in a row at the microscope, we recommend alternating between tasks at the microscope and other tasks to incorporate small breaks throughout the day.

If possible, you and your colleagues can also take turns using the microscope to ensure that you don’t spend all day at the microscope.

Change to an ergonomic microscope

If you find that the exercises mentioned above and taking breaks from the microscopes don’t work, perhaps it’s time to change to an ergonomic microscope.

Unlike traditional microscopes where you have to lean forward to look through the eyepiece when doing inspections, an ergonomic microscope uses a monitor rather than an eyepiece. Using a monitor instead allows you to roll your shoulders back and sit up straight. Studies shows that introducing simple ergonomic intervention methods like these can have significant benefits, including:

  • Eyestrain reduced by 36%
  • Headaches reduced by 45 %
  • Extremity fatigue reduced by 28%
  • Significant savings in annual customer returns for the company

 

All microscopes from TAGARNO use a monitor rather than an eyepiece and would be a great way to reduce eyestrain for microscope operators.

Click the button below to explore the options that we offer at TAGARNO.

Sources:

  • “An ergonomic perspective on visual PCB inspection”, Holzmann & Shea, 2012

There’s more to read

Now that you’ve made it to the end of this blogpost, here’s a few other blogposts that you might find interesting.

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