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Could My Back, Neck and Eye Pain Be Related?

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Does it sometimes feel like your neck, back and eyes have just spent an hour heavy lifting at the gym, when all you’ve done is sit at a computer or been out for a drive? These seemingly unrelated aches and pains may indeed be related.

Let’s try to understand this by digging a little deeper.

Activities That May Cause Eye Strain and Discomfort

Eye strain can occur for a number of reasons, but it’s usually a result of your eyes being overworked. Eye strain is especially common in people who spend an extended period of time on near-work activities such as reading, writing, looking at a computer, scrolling through phone messages or playing video games.

Eye strain from these activities can directly contribute to neck and back pain. That’s because people with tired eyes try to reduce their eye strain by tilting their head or neck, which results in poor posture. Leaning into a digital screen or craning your neck over a book may help you see better, but it’s a major cause of back, and neck soreness.

Vision and Eye Conditions

Vision and eye conditions that may contribute to back and neck pain include:

Binocular vision dysfunction (BVD)BVD is a common visual condition where even a slight misalignment of the eyes causes them to send two very different images to the brain, which then struggles to combine them into a single cohesive 3D image. BVD can cause eye strain, headaches, blurred vision and  light sensitivity.People with BVD may compensate by tilting their heads in one direction or the other. While this can sometimes help them see a bit more clearly, their unusual head or neck position can cause muscle tension and soreness in the back, neck and shoulders.

Hyperopia and Presbyopia

Hyperopia (farsightedness) causes a person to see objects more clearly in the distance while nearby objects seem blurry. Presbyopia is age-related farsightedness that typically begins in a person’s 40’s. As we age, the lens of our eyes become stiffer and less flexible. This loss of flexibility makes it difficult to see close-up.Without vision correction like glasses or contact lenses, people with hyperopia or presbyopia strain their eyes to improve focus. This often results in headaches and tension in the neck.

If you’ve ever seen a farsighted person hold a book or phone at arm’s length to see the text, you’ll understand how extending one’s arms can place additional strain on arm muscles and lead to bad posture and back pain.

Neck and back muscle tension

Conversely, muscle tension in your neck and back can result in eye pain or the buildup of pain around the eyes.

Unconscious tensing of the muscles in the neck, upper back and shoulders can lead to muscle tension in the back of the skull. This, in turn, can cause headaches near or adjacent to the eye area.

For more information on how eye problems are connected to neck and back soreness, and how you may be able to prevent all three, contact in today!

At Lakeline Vision Source, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 512-918-3937 or book an appointment online to see one of our Cedar Park eye doctors.

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Q&As

What can I do to prevent eye strain while working or playing on digital screens?

To prevent eye strain and associated neck, shoulder and back stiffness while working on computers or other devices, follow the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes look away from the screen at something at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. This allows your eyes to rest from the near-work you’ve been doing. At the same time, consciously relax your back, neck and shoulder muscles.

If this doesn’t provide the relief you’re seeking, ask your eye doctor about computer glasses that help block glare and blue light.

What can I do to reduce eye strain from presbyopia and hyperopia?

Both of these conditions can be addressed using eyeglasses or contact lenses. These may sometimes only be required when focusing up close, such as while reading or using a computer.

When it comes to presbyopia, bifocals or multifocal glasses and contact lenses can all be excellent options. You may also speak to your eye doctor about the possibility of LASIK or other types of corrective surgery.

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