Patients are noticing increased eye strain and headaches due to increased screen time and computer use. Acupuncture is a great treatment to relax the nervous system and relax facial and neck muscles to counter the effects of computer use. In East Asian Medicine, we also prescribe herbal treatments to help prevent tension and headaches.
Today, I’d like to some lifestyle practices to integrate into your day:
-Eye rest: rest your eyes at regular intervals by taking your eyes off of the screen and looking across the room. Gently and slowly scan your eyes back and forth across the room and up and down. Then allow your eyes to visually look at a larger area across the room (or look out the window). This allows your vision to expand and is the opposite of focusing your eyes on a screen.
-Eye blinking: Notice if your eyes are dry when looking at a screen for a long time. If so, increase blinking to help lubricate the eyes. If that’s not enough, gentle eye drops can be helpful.
-Qigong for the eyes: Here’s a simple qi gong exercise to relax the eye muscles. Rub the palms of your hands together until the friction creates heat. Gently place the palms over the eyes and take some deep breaths. You will feel the warmth of your hands which can relax the muscles around your eyes. You can repeat this a couple of times.
-In Traditional East Asian Medicine, we recommend resting the eyes for 15 minutes between the hours of 1-3PM. This is a time to close the eyes and allow your eyes to rest (with an eye pillow if that works for you, or simply a light towel so that you can block out light). I know this may not be possible for everyone, but if you have the opportunity, give it a try.
-Biomechanist Katy Bowman offers a gentle and natural approach to “exercising” the eyes. She recommends to go outside and look at distant objects in order to increase eye movements. She suggests looking at the tops of tall trees and seeing the silhouette of birds. I think we can all benefit from going offline in our free time and looking and listening to nature, whether it’s a small city park or a nature trail.
-Katy Bowman has a great video to show proper neck and spine alignment when working on a screen. This blog advertises the stickers she sells on her website, but watch the short video which offers a valuable demonstration of how to position your head when looking at a phone or device. https://www.nutritiousmovement.com/techneck/
Here’s another video that Katy Bowman offers for head ramping: https://vimeo.com/392299826