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Light, sight and posture

Thursday 25 October 2018

Were you aware that there is a relationship between your posture and your eyesight? And that adding a light source into the equation adds a new level of complexity?

It all starts with evolutionary theory. Over millennia, we have developed a unique ability to interact with our environment from an upright position. Humans alone keep their bodies vertical to the ground and eyes parallel to the horizon. We are by nature viewing things from an elevated position, and our natural “stress-free” upright posture makes allowance for this.

Our eyes contribute to postural control by delivering information from the retina to different areas in the brain that allow for object identification and movement control. It is no coincidence therefore that many people who suffer from visual impairments also develop balance and stability issues.

And what about modern technology? It is estimated that we spend 2-4 hours each day reading looking at our mobile phones while standing. Simply put, we weren’t designed to do this, and research has shown that tilting our heads at a 60 degree angle adds 60lb of pressure on your cervical spine (i.e.above the shoulders). For context, 60lbs is that is the weight of an average 7-year-old

We experience similar issues while seated, with many of us experiencing the pain of “tech neck” as we position ourselves awkwardly in front of our PCs, or strain to look downwards at tablets and e-readers.

As Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, writes:

"The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees. Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration and possibly surgeries."

And what about light? Many of us read in the evening under household lights, and as a consequence we experience eyestrain caused by inadequate lighting. The phenomenon of household lighting is barely 100 years old, and our eyes are being asked to deal with a radical shift from their natural light requirements. We are only just beginning to understand the consequences of this. The move to LED, driven largely by energy-saving considerations , has illuminated huge swathes of our planet, and this has this rocked our Circadian rhythms. In addition, research has shown us that the blue spike which occurs in LED bulbs not only keeps us awake when we want to sleep, scientists now say it could also increase our risk of macular degeneration and cancer.

So what’s the answer? Firstly, try to hold your mobile or tablet higher when you are standing in order to relieve the pressure on your spine. Secondly, spend some time looking for a quality chair which will support you in the best position for PC work or for reading. Take time to test it for comfort and support – don’t be rushed. Finally, if you will be reading at night, choose a light that replicates the daylight spectrum as closely as possible to avoid eyestrain. And make sure you can position it for maximum comfort (best is over your shoulder). Importantly, try to source a task light with LED technology that does not contain the dreaded “blue spike”. They do exist, and it’s worth the search.

Sources:

1.The American Posture Insitute:
Research Demonstrates that Vision Affects Head Posture.

  1. CBS News:
    OMG, you're texting your way to back pain.

Labels:

Sight News, Light News

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