Medical Research on Ocular Diseases

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Medical Research on Ocular Diseases

21ST ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 3-7 May 1982

WP No. 87

Medical Research on Ocular Diseases


Medical research on ocular diseases is part of the work programme of Sub- Committee “Medical” as resolved at Cairo 1981. In this context, medical research on ocular diseases is considered being related to the use of visual display units (VDUs) such as synthetic radar displays, electronic data displays or any other visual display unit in use in air traffic services.


Several studies have already been carried out in the field of ocular diseases related to VDUs. It has been established that personnel using VDUs at their working positions had to adjust their spectacles or to start to wear spectacles. But is this only due to the use of VDUs? It is in fact found very difficult to prove that VDUs are the cause of ocular diseases although it is known that the fact of being struck by a known refractive deficiency, which may be corrected or not, is not the only cause of a beginning difficulty in visual adaptation. On the other hand a lack of ocular equilibrium (heterophoria) unknown to the operator may be the origin of a visual fatigue. The visual constraint is in fact the resultant from several factors such as light conditions, duration and organisation of work, individual characteristics of the operator.

Since long term effects of professional nuisance must not be ignored, one has to evaluate the consequences of visual engagement at work in terms of risks for the visual apparatus of an operator. These risks include premature obsolescence of the visional organs, acceleration of pre-existing pathological processes (diagnosed or not), accentuation of certain refractive deficiencies.

The classical ophthalmic examination confined by its normalisation standards cannot always detect the minor deficiencies which cause more or less intensive visual difficulties at work. This applies also to the Standards and Recommended Practices of ICAO as laid down in Annex 1 “Personnel Licensing”.

The question arises whether an ophthalmic examination carried out according to these standards will detect in time the above mentioned risks. It is felt that the only means of obtaining objective information is the recording of the results given by detailed ophthalmic examinations carried out by an ophthalmologist at regular intervals. A study of these records during a longer period would show whether VDUs do affect ocular fitness or not.


The only way of detecting ocular diseases caused by VDUs is a regular ophthalmic examination of personnel using VDUs at work and of personnel not using VDUs and a written recording of the results obtained in these two categories in order to obtain a comparison. It is therefore important that Member Associations act accordingly so that comparisons can be done at an international level.

Draft Recommendations

It is recommended to Conference to accept the following:

Member Associations shall approach their National Administrations in order to establish a regular ophthalmic examination scheme including a written record of the findings in an appropriate form and shall advise Sub-Committee “Medical” of this and any other relevant studies.

It is recommended to Conference to accept this working paper as study material


Meyer, J.J., Crespy, J., Rey, P., L’Analyse ergonomique des nostes de travail avec écran de visualisation, Geneva (Switzerland): Universite de Geneve, Institut de médecine sociale et préventive, publication no. 214, 1980.

ICAO Annex 1, Personnel Licensing, 6th edition, 1973.

Last Update: September 20, 2020  

November 27, 2019   733   Jean-Francois Lepage    1982    

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