In the past, occupational health paid little attention to the visual apparatus, and when dealing with the theme "work and vision" the main issues adressed were industrial accidents and toxic effects related to exposure to chemical and physical agents1 .
Recently, a new subspeciality called Ergophthalmology was created by the International Committe of Occupational Health. Its main purpose is to analyse, evaluate and design the working systems so that it can contribute to a good relation between work and 'visual performance'.
It has a medical (ophthalmologic) component, with the detection and correction of any ophthalmologic problems (refraction errors, binocular vision or accomodation disturbances etc); an occupational hygiene/toxicology component, with the detection of air irritating particles, microorganisms or toxic gaseous contaminants for the eye; and a technical component, to assess the best lighting and relative humidity conditions, study of the best disposition of office equipment, etc.
The growing use of electronic devices - computers, tablets and smartphones,2-4, both from a work and leisure point of view, and especially at any time of the day, is also associated with some ophthalmological complaints.
This has led to the definition of Ergophthalmology, not only related to work, but also to leisure moments.
Thus, Ergophthalmology (from the Greek ‘ergo’ work + ophthalmology) is defined as the subspecialty whose main goal is to prevent, and/or treat, any disablity or ocular disease, that could be related to leisure or work environment, in order to perform a certain task with maximum visual efficiency and effectiveness.
This subspecialty may not be for some as attractive as a surgical one, or as an a ophthalmologic speciality that deals with constantly evolving imaging methods, but has the particularity of being able to answer a set of questions that our patients ask us with some frequency in our general consultation, and that we often respond in a more or less empirical way, based on articles that we are reading, which are not always explained in the traditional compendia of Ophthalmology.
Our purpose with this book 'Questions and Answers in Ergophthalmology' is not only to make Ergophthalmology more attractive to all, demystifying its allegedly hermetic character, but also to give all ophthalmologists a more structured scientific basis to answer our patients ergophthalmological doubts.
This was only possible thanks to the selfless and lavish participation of all the colleagues who immediately accepted this challenge. We would also like to thank the unconditional support of a laboratory - Théa laboratory and particularly of its director João Caldas - who is always supporting these and others initiatives. To all my sincere gratitude.
Fernando Trancoso Vaz