Occup Environ Med 62:4-12 doi:10.1136/oem.2004.016030
  • Review

Eye complaints in the office environment: precorneal tear film integrity influenced by eye blinking efficiency

  1. P Wolkoff1,
  2. J K Nøjgaard1,
  3. P Troiano2,
  4. B Piccoli3
  1. 1National Institute of Occupational Health, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, Ospedale Maggiore IRCCS, Milan, Italy
  3. 3Department of Occupational Health, University of Milan-ICP Hospital, Milan, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Prof. P Wolkoff
 National Institute of Occupational Health, Copenhagen, Denmark;
  • Accepted 24 August 2004


To achieve a common base for understanding work related eye complaints in the office environment, it is necessary to merge approaches from indoor air science, occupational health, and ophthalmology. Based on database searches, it is concluded that precorneal tear film (PTF) alteration leads to eye complaints that may be caused by: (1) thermal factors (low relative humidity; high room temperature); (2) demanding task content (attention decreases blinking and widens the exposed ocular surface area); and (3) individual characteristics (for example, tear film alterations, blinking anomalies, gland dysfunctions, and use of contact lenses). These factors and conditions are able to progressively increase water evaporation and faster thinning of the PTF, which causes dryness and dry spot formation on the cornea, possibly followed by corneal and conjunctiva epithelial alterations and eye complaints. Another possible cause of eye complaints is certain irritating chemical compounds, in addition to oxidation mixtures that are formed in reactions between ozone and unsaturated organic compounds (alkenes). The effect may be exacerbated by low relative humidity.