During October, Physical Therapy month, we are running a three-part series that explores how using your computer, phone or tablet for long periods of time can lead to eye, shoulder and/or neck fatigue or pain.
Have you ever thought about how the amount of time you spend using electronic devices on a daily basis affects your body?
I think most of us underestimate the hours of screen time we accumulate each day. Prolonged positioning, even with good mechanics, can cause limited motion due to the inactivity of muscles and joints, which can lead to fatigue and potentially pain.
PART ONE: EYES
Clinically, people are often surprised when I bring up how the overuse of eye muscles can impact vision. They either don’t know or forget that there are muscles associated with both eye movement and with helping to change the shape of the lens to allow for being able to see distances and up close.
Eye fatigue can occur when we look at something at a fixed distance for long periods of time without a break, such as our phones, tablet or computer. Taking eye breaks every hour to activate these muscles are important and mini breaks also help to decrease dry eye by closing the lids over the eyeball. Just like the staring game we played as kids when we waited to see who would blink first, we are likely to blink less when staring at an object.
Besides getting up to move around, ways to offset eye fatigue and dry eye are as follows:
- Every 20 minutes, close your eyes, cover them with your hands (making it dark), count to 20 seconds, then remove your hands, open your eyes and look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds, repeat.
- Position your monitor or phone/tablet/laptop, instead of leaning or adjusting your body, to a distance that allows optimal reading. This is typically a distance of 18 to 30 inches. If you wear glasses, ask your eye doctor what the distance range is for your lenses, which will allow you to set distances for computer use and/or reading at the optimal range for your lens prescription.
- To reduce dry eye and promote duct health, close your eyes, without scrunching, then gently press your eyelashes together to “milk” the ducts for 10 reps every hour.
Next Week: Neck