Ask: Do CRT monitors cause headaches?

I posted this on slashdot.org two weeks ago, but the story got rejected. I am posting it here.

I have myopia (medium to high myopia). I wear corrective lenses (in the form of glasses) with negative six optical power, both eyes. The optical power had gradually been decreasing, but since over two years now, it has stabilised at negative six. I use computers a lot on a daily basis. For the past three years, I have been working entirely with laptops and LCDs. I still do, at home, where I have a wide-screen laptop I use. However, almost eight months back, I joined a software house in the capacity of a software engineer. Unfortunately, they only have CRT monitors (13-inch or less) there. I am not used to working with CRT monitors. And in fact, I cannot work with them without having a cracking headache, eye-ache, and without shedding tears. This is the major reason why I flushed out all monitors at home three years ago.

In the last few months working with CRTs at this organisation, I have been feeling the brunt of it extensively. I have headache (at times severe) and eye-ache almost every day I am at work. If I stay back at home, and use my laptop all day long, for hours at ends, I feel nothing. However, as soon as I have spent a good half an hour or even less in front of a CRT at work, the problems start to appear. I have been trying to narrow down to those factors that may actually contribute to the headaches and eye-aches. Traveling to and fro work (I drive to work in my car) might be one factor, as I have to fight my way through rough traffic every day. But, besides that, I could pin down no other factor. The office environment is a long shot from being a haven, but it is not by any stretch of imagination what I would call uncomfortable. I discussed my concerns with friends and other people, and while none of them have medium to high level myopia like myself, they do agree that using CRTs does cause headaches. I raised the issue finally with my manager. He forwarded it to the HR head who called me for a chat. Surprisingly, to him, my not being able to work with CRTs is something he had not heard of ever before. He asked me to get an eye test with my ophthalmologist, and get a letter written from him that suggests I cannot work with CRT monitors. I thought that that was the height of stupidity. But since I already have a much better job offer waiting for me, I did not think it worth protesting. (However, I do wish that they may solve the problems I am having, as I would prefer to stay back with this organisation.)

Yesterday, however, I did visit the ophthalmologist for a routine check-up. The diopters of my corrective lenses remain the same, negative six that is. I do have allergy in my eyes, which I have had for a while, and for which I have been taking treatment on and off. The ophthalmologist did agree with my reservations with working with CRT, but he politely refused to write such a letter, stating that he cannot do so. He asked me instead to fight the battle with the administration of where I work, stating that I do not need to show them any certificates or letters for something I am not comfortable with at work. I will confront the administration, nonetheless, later today. But I wanted to know what you guys think about it. Have you ever had problems with working with CRTs? Especially those of you who may have myopia to any degree and have to work with computers for long hours daily?

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Note to self: How not to light a BBQ fire!

It is barely past two in the afternoon. I am still struggling with the hangover from last night’s BBQ party. The lower part of my torso aches like it has never ached before, in part from sitting on my knees and in an uncomfortable position for hours at a stretch while grilling and cooking the BBQ meat. Also, I drove a lot that night too.

It took Ammar and I just a little less than an hour to make a fire. It wasn’t until this morning that mom told me that we would have been more successful with making the fire had we used oil instead of the gratuitous amounts of petrol we poured in. Not only does the fire, that way, last long enough for the coal to do its magic, using oil leaves an after taste and smell in what is being cooked that simply make the stuff more delicious.

Practice makes perfect, now. However, as I soberly told Rakesh when he had asked how to do BBQ while standing next to me watching me move the grilled meat over and sideways, there is really no future in it.

On a more serious note, someone should really teach Munir how to blow a sheesha.