Spontaneous blinks as a criterion of visual fatigue during prolonged work on visual display terminals

Percept Mot Skills. 2001 Feb;92(1):234-50. doi: 10.2466/pms.2001.92.1.234.


Visual fatigue caused by prolonged work viewing a Visual Display Terminals (VDT) and of work reading a hard-copy were assessed by electromyogram (EMG) waveform and electrooculogram (EOG) waveform in spontaneous blinks as objective criteria, and by questionnaire of subjective feeling, and by task performance. The duration and the amplitude of the EMG of the orbicularis ocular muscle on the right side and the EOG of the vertical direction to the eyelid were measured for 10 subjects who participated in a figure task consisting of the addition of single-digit numbers on a VDT work or a work with a hard-copy. The mean values of the duration and the amplitude of the EMG and the EOG were evaluated by the averaging of 10 waveforms of the spontaneous blinks for all subjects. The time lag from the EMG to the EOG in the process of the generation of spontaneous blinks was also analyzed. These five parameters were evaluated during the work time. The mean values for the duration of the EMG increased gradually during the work time, but the amplitude did not show significant difference between the prework and a work time. There was no significant change of the duration of the EOG, but the mean amplitude of the EOG decreased as the work time progressed, and the time lag significantly extended. The blinks frequency increased relatively when using a VDT. The rate of fluctuation for these parameters was higher during use of a VDT than use of a hard-copy. The time lag at five hours of VDT work was extended by 90% based on the value at the pre-work. The symptoms of general fatigue and fatigue of the eyes increased linearly during the VDT work for six hours. The results indicated a significant correlation between the objective parameters for the activity of the spontaneous blinks, i.e., duration and amplitude of EMG and EOG, and the time lag between EMG and EOG, and the subjective feeling was recognized in the time course of the task. These experimental results suggested that the parameters regarding the EMG and the EOG for the spontaneous blinks were effective indices for assessing visual fatigue during prolonged VDT work.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthenopia / diagnosis*
  • Asthenopia / physiopathology*
  • Blinking / physiology*
  • Computers*
  • Electrooculography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Work*