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migraines triggered by computers at work. What to do?

(21 Posts)
beakysmum Tue 16-Apr-13 22:33:16

Work changed from a paper based system to a computer based system last year. Since then I have had terrible headaches starting at the end of most working days, often turning into migraines. I often have to go to bed as soon as I get in from work. Only sleep cures the head ache. I don't get head aches in school holidays as I don't work then

What to do? I can't go on like this. It's not fair on me or the DC or DH who has to put children to bed.

beakysmum Tue 16-Apr-13 22:48:35

Meant to add, I've been to opticians and glasses I have are fine apparently. Also been to occupational health who have done nothing.

bobs Tue 16-Apr-13 22:53:22

Any sinus problems? I used to get terrible headaches that lasted for days

Springforward Tue 16-Apr-13 22:54:55

Have you had your workstation assessed by your H&S Advisor? I'd start there, as it's really easy for your desk/ chair/ pc set up to be not quite right and certainly to lead to eyestrain and headaches. It's also usually something which could quite easily be put right.

Try googling "working with VDUs" - this should take you to an HSE publication which talks about what your employer must do if you spend lots of time working with computers/ similar, and has some good self-help tips on posture, changes of activity, etc.

Have you been for an eye test recently? Your employer should make this available to you at no cost to you. Tell the optician what your job entails and they will look specifically at the relevant focal distance and tell you if you need a prescription specifically for working with computers. If you do, your employer has a duty in H&S law to supply you with a basic pair of specs at no cost to you.

Finally, have you considered asking your employer for a referral to their occupational health service, assuming they have one?

almostanotherday Tue 16-Apr-13 22:57:07

Anti glare or tinted glasses should help.

mybelovedmonster Tue 16-Apr-13 23:00:24

Do you take regular breaks? I can't remember how often you're supposed to take them, but its at least 5 mins away from your screen each hour.

What's the lighting like in your office? Are there any flickering lights? Can you put a filter on your monitor or lower the brightness, or check that the settings are correct and its as clear as it should be?

Have you had air con units fitted or anything like that?

hearhear Tue 16-Apr-13 23:15:40

medical guidelines for migranes. Discuss with GP and possibly preventative medication? Triptan sold over the counter in Boots, which you could try at the first sign of the headache.

I've been trying b vitamin complex, q10 and magnesium spray. See migrane trust.

Are you getting dehydrated at work?

I keep this at work which does soothe.

Is it worth seeing an osteopath in case it is muscular?

2nd optician opinion? If you can get someone recommended (perhaps an independant) who is particularly thorough and make pick up on something else - see here for example.

beakysmum Wed 17-Apr-13 14:34:38

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate your thoughts.

I have no sinus trouble and I try to drink loads at work. i think the cause is specifically computer related as I did not often get headaches on work days when the systems were paper based.

i work for the NHS (!!!) so I hot desk which makes it difficult to ensure each work station is right for me. There is one location where I am pretty sure lighting levels are too low, but it is 6 months since occ health asked for the levels to be measured and the team supposed to do it are pleasant when I phone to ask when they are coming, but it never actually happens. I am chasing them AGAIN this week...

I'll read up on the links you have given and ask for another pair of glasses with anti-glare. i have worn glasses since I was 5 years old and have regular checks, so I am happy the overall prescription should be ok.

mybelovedmonster Wed 17-Apr-13 14:43:25

Ah... yes, I have worked in many an NHS office doing hot-desking. Nightmarish.

They should pay for an eye test for you as well - I know you've already had one, but sometimes opticians are wrong. In the last year I've had my optician tell me my glasses were fine, only to go back for a second opinion and find I needed a different prescription.

Make sure you take regular breaks as well.

GotMyGoat Wed 17-Apr-13 14:46:49

Have you had a look at Irlen syndrome? I have some software called claroview or something which changes the colour and glare of my screen, I also have 'special' green tinted glasses - though we are looking at getting me some proper irlen contacts.

Also, speak to your gp about migraine preventative medicine - I take 25mg beta blockers daily.

I'm very light sensitive (Irlen) and get migraines every day without the above, its really horrible.

Springforward Wed 17-Apr-13 19:18:18

If you hot desk, the focus of the assessment should be firstly that the desks you work at have the right range of adjustability so they are capable of suiting your stature, and secondly that you can replicate a good working posture (particularly neck/ shoulders for headaches) when you move between desks. Typical measures include a decent height adjustable chair capable of supporting your lumbar region, a height adjustable monitor riser, and a decent document holder if you also work with papers at the same time as the pc. You must also know how to adjust the brightness, contrast and colour on your monitor. These measures should ensure your headaches aren't brought on by poor posture or rubbish monitor adjustment, which are reasonably common, independently of your eyesight and break schedules.

landofsoapandglory Wed 17-Apr-13 19:31:42

hearhear what magnesium spray do you use, and stupid question where do you put it? I get loads of migraines so am willing to try anything to help.

fengirl1 Wed 17-Apr-13 19:40:17

Other things you could try are making sure the monitor is at the correct level and not causing strain on your neck, and maybe getting one of those mesh thingies (don't know the name) that fit over the front of the monitor - they reduce screen flicker. I know you hot desk but worth a try?

Springforward Wed 17-Apr-13 19:52:35

Re: lighting levels, specific guidance on lux levels in offices does exist, but in practice will usually be met if you have fairly standard office lighting. Local task lighting is usually an option but can be tricky to get light/ shade in right place without creating glare, which can make headaches worse.

hearhear Wed 17-Apr-13 22:38:07

Landofsoapand glory
I use the better you magnesium oil spray and spray on chest area!
Saw it recommended.

landofsoapandglory Wed 17-Apr-13 22:43:47

Thank you, hearhear, I shall give it a go along with the riboflavin and Q10.

beakysmum Tue 30-Apr-13 16:21:54

Springforward.... if you are there?

I have a couple of questions for you or anyone who knows about employment law....

I have just had the info from my occ health saying that they will only contribute to the cost of glasses if the glasses were not needed before and are purely for VDU work. As I said earlier, I have worn glasses since I was 4 years old, so Occ Health are now saying they do not have to support me getting new glasses, even though the only reason I'm buying new glasses is to get a coating on them to reduce glare for VDU work.
My glasses cost nearly £400 as I have such complex lenses (I am -14 in one eye and -12 in the other eye if that means anything... basically means I am so short sighted I still can't see even if soemthing is 1cm from my nose!). So I'm not too happy to have to foot the entire bill for this myself. If my work had not introduced VDU based work, my current glasses would be fine.

Secondly OCC Health say they would only give a voucher if I use a well known high street chain (not sure I'm allowed to name them). I have been well advised over the years to go with any small independant opticians who can get to know me and my eyes. I have certainly found this to be good advice and the one occaision I went to the high street chain, it was a disaster!!

Are my occ health right on either count?

beakysmum Tue 30-Apr-13 21:23:54


Karoleann Tue 30-Apr-13 22:05:08

Beakys - yes sorry they're right, work only ave to foot the bill if they're just for work.

OP check your set up, you need your screen to be arm's length away and the top of the screen to be at your eye level,if its not bring yourself up or the screen down.

Otherwise, you can get screen anti glare products you can try or you may just need a different monitor.

beakysmum Wed 01-May-13 22:25:17

Thanks Karoleann.

But the point is these are glasses are only for work. I wouldn't be buying them otherwise.

What about disability discrimination? My migraines are disabling me. Surely reasonable adjustments should be made to enable me to work safely?

beakysmum Wed 01-May-13 22:26:42

Also what are screen anti glare products and where can I get them? Thanks x

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