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Visual Complaints and Eye Problems in Orchestral Musicians

Henny J.M. Beckers, Marina A.W. van Kooten-Noordzij, Ronald M.P.C. de Crom, Jan S.A.G. Schouten, Carroll A.B. Webers
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 31 Number 3: Page 140 (September 2016)

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Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To study visual complaints and eye diseases among professional and amateur orchestral musicians in the Netherlands. METHODS: In this observational study, members from professional and amateur symphony or wind orchestras were asked to complete a questionnaire collecting demographic data, musical, medical, and family history, and data on present visual complaints and/or eye diseases. Questions about playing in the orchestra were also asked. RESULTS: Data from 70 professionals and 48 amateurs showed that most musicians needed glasses or contact lenses for playing in the orchestra (61% of the professionals, 63% of the amateurs). A majority (66% of professionals, 71% of amateurs) had visited an ophthalmologist at least once during their lifetime, and 10% of the professionals and 23% of the amateurs were currently under treatment of an ophthalmologist. Visual complaints while playing in the orchestra were quite common and included poor lighting conditions, problems with reading small notes, blurred vision, tired eyes, and itching or burning eyes. Professional musicians especially reported adverse effects of eye complaints encountered in the orchestra for daily life; 35% got tired earlier and 33% felt that they could not adequately perform their tasks in the orchestra. CONCLUSION: The results show that visual complaints and eye problems probably are quite common among orchestral musicians and therefore warrant further interest and research.

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