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Is The Jeweler's Job A Strain On The Eye?

From The American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, January, 1946

Is The Jeweler's Job A Strain On The Eye?

A large number of jewelers and watchmakers, according to extensive statistical figures, are found to be nearsighted after many years of work. Or some other kind of eye trouble has developed. There is an old prejudice that this development is occupational and cannot be avoided. That is not so-and there are several ways to prevent unpleasant eye troubles of jewelers and watchmakers.

There is no doubt that continuous use of good illumination is of primary importance in this connection -to the single jeweler as well as to the efficiency of a whole store or plant. The advantages to industry of good illumination are, according to the Illuminating Engineering Society: (l) Greater accuracy of workmanship, resulting in the improved quality of the product with less spoilage and less re-work; (2) Increased production and decreased costs; (3) The better utilization of floor space;
(4) Greater ease of seeing especially among older employees, thus making the more efficient; (5) Less eyestrain among the employees; (6) Improved morale among the employees resulting in a decreased labor turnover; (7) More easily maintained cleanliness and neatness in the whole plant, and (8) Greater safety.


Not only the eyes are suffering from poor vision and continuous strain on the eyes. A jeweler suffered for many months from headache in the late afternoon which bothered him remarkably and rec-::uced his efficiency. He made all sorts of trouble responsible for those unpleasant headaches such as a previous sinus trouble, insufficient sleep, fatigue and exhaustion. No treatment was of any avail. Finally an eye doctor found out that the jeweler had developed a medium degree of nearsightedness. Correct glasses were prescribed for him and the headaches ceased immediately and forever. Nearsightedness may produce headache as well as dizziness, nausea, the feeling of pressure in the head.

Well fitted concave glasses make disappear all the troubles which originate from nearsightedness. A nearsighted jeweler whose glasses are too weak is working with the upper part of his body bent forward. He looks through the rims of his glasses in order to see more clearly-instead through the center as he is supposed to do. The degree of nearsightedness and of other troubles of vision is determined by the optic strength of the lenses which are needed to correct it. The degree of concavity or convexity to which the lenses are ground is expressed in Diopters. The lenses scatter or gather the rays of light which fall upon the eyes so that the correct spot on the retina is reached by them and a sharp image of the object is projected upon it.


Usually between the ages 40 to 45 years old sight (presbyopia) begins to appear. This change is actually a normal development due chiefly to the loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye. A jeweler of some 42 or 45 years of age who had always had an excellent eyesight may note one day that now he must push his work (or his head) farther and farther away in order to gain exact vision. Much can be done to give relief and assistance to those aging eyes. Different glasses may be needed for working at close range and reading-and for seeing in distance. In such cases either two different pairs of glasses are used; or the jeweler uses glasses the upper part of which is ground for distance while the lower part is ground for objects at close range.

If the condition be uncorrected, the presbyopic jeweler may suffer from pain in the eyes, fatigue, lacrymation (shedding tears), dimness of vision, recurrent headaches. Many of these valuable and highly skilled older workers can continue to perform efficiently if he has the proper glasses - or if the simple means of assisting the eyes with good illumination is adopted.


Workers with old sight prefer involuntarily the kind of illumination which is particularly strong. They do this instinctively because bright light produces a contraction of the pupils, and this improves the vision temporarily. But proper illumination is of highest value for every working person.

The Illuminating Engineering Society has recommended certain minimum standards of illumination for industrial interiors. The figures of their table refer to the general lighting or lighting throughout the total area involved as measured on a horizontal plane 30 inches above the floor.

The recommended figures in this table are for jewelry and watch manufacturing: Illumination levels above 100 foot candles. To provide illumination of this order, a combination of at least 20 foot candles of general lighting plus specialized supplementary lighting is necessary. The design and installation of the combination systems must not only provide a sufficient amount of light but also must provide the proper direction of light, diffusion, eye protection, and insofar as possible must eliminate direct and reflected glare as well as objectionable shadows.

Proper lighting and strong illumination are factors which help greatly to avoid eyestrain, and that is important to prevent additional eye troubles to those already existing especially with jewelers and watchmakers who have to discriminate extreme fine details for long periods of time. Improper lighting shortens the duration of all normal seeing. The same holds true· for flickering light which is disturbing to eyes which are fixed on fine details. In every bright light tinted or dark glasses are desirable. Sunlight and artificial light glaring into the eyes or reflected from such bright surfaces as glossy paper and table tops and walls are harmful to the eyes.

Glare interferes with clear vision, and tends to injure the eye.


The contrast of nearsightedness is farsightedness. Farsighted eyes cannot see the objects near at hand without giving considerable extra work to the muscles of accommodation in the eye. This often results In eyestrain and headache, but the condition can also be corrected by properly fitted glasses.
Another common disorder of vision that can be corrected in practically the same way as near-or farsightedness, is astigmatism. A jeweler or watchmaker with astigmatic eyes is well able to work provided he has the proper glasses. Astigmatism is produced by an abnormal rotation of the axis of the eye to the side. Vision in such cases is blurred at close range as well as at distance. Other complaints of the astigmatic worker are headache and eyestrain. Lenses which are ground correspondingly, are of value in such cases too.

There are some methods of treatment which try to exercise the e~e muscles and strengthen the eyes III this way. Whatever the success or the supposed success of those methods, there is no doubt that any person afflicted with nearsightedness, astigmatism, old sight and similar troubles of vision has to wear glasses if he wants to do his work in the most efficient manner. But the proper care can prevent unnecessary strain on the eyes and prevent unpleasant eye troubles successfully.

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