Video Highlights

spending many hours looking at a computer screen can strain the eye muscles in ways we are not aware of
strained eyes can lead to poor posture, neck pain, back pain and discomfort in other parts of the body
strained eyes and the other pains they can lead to are preventable.
while using a computer, it's important to take "vision breaks" every 20 minutes
there are simple exercises to do during these breaks that will help

Episode 8: Body Pains Caused by the Eyes? You Bet . . .

Hi everybody, Dr. Cobb here.

I am wearing my coat. It’s still cold here in Seattle. Anyway, I wanted to welcome you back to the blog. I hope that you’re having a great week.

Last week, I was talking to Nathan Baxter, a world-ranked powerlifter, about how important it is to focus on the small details because really, in our lives, it’s the small details that matter. When I was thinking about some of the work we were doing with Nathan, I was reminded that in the last couple of months, I’ve gotten two emails that talked about vision, that said, “Hey, a lot of people are suffering from computer eye strain and lot of other stuff like that.” It got me thinking: Z-Health specializes in training the eyes, the inner ear, and the body’s balance system – areas dependent on the small details.

This week, I want to give you a couple of things to work on that can dramatically improve your eye comfort when you’re at work. Most of my clients, if they have any type of modern job at all, are spending somewhere between six and 12 hours a day staring at a computer screen. Maybe a small laptop screen, maybe a big desktop — but it really doesn’t matter, because that prolonged exposure to a screen can begin to have detrimental effects on your eyes.

When your eyes are strained, you’re likely to develop postural issues, because you’re moving your head around and forward. By the end of the day, your eyes are burning, they’re tearing up, maybe they’re tired. It’s hard to read, you get a headache, your neck’s bugging you, your shoulders are tight, your lower back hurts from sitting in a chair. It’s this cascade of events that rob you of energy and make you not want to exercise or go home and play with your kids.

A lot of that is preventable just by beginning to focus on what your day-to-day activities are doing to your eyes. Let me give you a couple of ideas that are easy to implement. Small details, but if you practice them, they will make a big difference.

First of all, if you work in any capacity where you’re looking at a screen, paper, whatever, for hours at a time, you need to begin setting a timer. Twenty minutes to thirty minutes of vision work should be followed by a little bit of a vision break. Everyone knows that we’re supposed to get up from our chairs and move anyway. But how many of us take action? It’s not enough to go, yeah, yeah, I need to rest my eyes. You need to make a point of doing it regularly.

Think about it this way: If you went to the gym and you were working with a trainer and he said, “Here, I want you to take these dumbbells and I want you to do half a bicep curl, and I want you to hold your arms in that position for the next 12 hours and I want you to do that five days a week for, oh, 25 years…” most folks would realize that’s not a good idea. Not only would your arms and biceps get incredibly fatigued over time, but also the strain would begin to limit your ability to move you arms efficiently, so you would begin to have problems putting on your coat, doing all sorts of other things.

The same thing happens with our eyes. Whenever we focus at one distance all day, hour after hour, week after week, year after year, it begins to alter the function of the muscles of our eyes. So the first thing I want you to do: Take a break every 20 minutes. Get up, go outside, and look in the distance. You need to look further away from the typical computer screen distance.

The second thing I want you to do, another small detail, is a little bit of eye exercise. It’s really simple. When you get up from your desk and you go outside and you look in the distance, do that for 30 seconds to two minutes. Then, I want you to take a pen, your finger, or some kind of other target, keep your head really still, and do some small eye circles. Follow along the target. Do it in each direction, clockwise and counter clockwise. You can make really large circles or you can make small ones. The goal here is to actually get some stretching sensations around your eye. You’ve got six muscles around each eye and they need to be worked.

If you do those two things – again small steps, small investments of time – the end payoff can be huge in terms of how you feel throughout the week.

That’s our tip for this week. I hope you enjoyed it. Please implement it and drop us a quick email. Let us know how you’re feeling.

Thanks. We’ll talk to you soon.

Previous Post
Episode 7: How a World #5 Athlete Erased Disabling Pain in 20 Seconds
Next Post
Episode 9: A Crash Course in Breathing

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