Wed, Jan 02, 2013 - Page 11 News List

Mobile devices causing more people to see the doctor
低頭族眼痛肩酸 求診病患增三成

A woman looks at her cell phone while waiting to cross a street in Taipei on Oct. 29.

Photo: Weng Yu-huang, Liberty Times

With the growing popularity of smartphones and tablet computers, the number of people keeping their heads down all the time is also on the rise, and one doctor in particular has found that the number of patients coming to see him for eye-related problems has increased by 30 to 40 percent in recent months. Some of his patients are also complaining about neck and shoulder pain and soreness in their wrists.

Liu Ching-chih, an ophthamologist at the Chi Mei Medical Center, says that people frequently using smartphones or tablet computers should pay more attention to their health. Try to avoid bowing your head or staying hunched over for extended periods of time, and be sure to rest five to 10 minutes every 30 to 40 minutes, he says. Liu also says that blinking more can allow moisture in the eyes to stay more balanced, and he warns people not to use cellphones or computers while riding in moving vehicles.

Liu says that the number of people coming in to see him due to discomfort in the eyes over the past six months has increased between 30 and 40 percent, and 90 percent of the patients, including both children and adults, frequently have their heads bowed down to look at mobile devices. Symptoms seen in adults include distension, soreness, and dryness in the eyes, as well as blurry vision and lacrimation. Some patients are also suffering from sore necks, shoulders, backs and wrists, and even experiencing headaches and elevated blood pressure. The prevalence of worsening nearsightedness in children has increased quite a lot as well, he says.

Staring at a computer screen for an extended period of time keeps the eye’s ciliary muscle from relaxing, the number of times you blink decreases, and moisture in the eyes becomes less balanced, all of which causes discomfort in the eyes and exacerbates nearsightedness.


1. blink v. 眨眼 (zha2 yan3)

例: The average person blinks 15 times per minute.


2. blurry adj. 模糊的 (mo2 hu2 de5)

例: Why are all of the pictures you took yesterday so blurry?


3. elevated adj. 升高的;提高的 (sheng1 gao1 de5; ti2 gao1 de5)

例: The elevated level of toxic chemicals in your body was caused by eating too much of the fish.


Liu says that when people are operating smartphones or tablet computers they usually lower their head and stay hunched over, which can cause tension in the muscles in the neck, shoulders, waist and back, and subsequently lead to discomfort and soreness. Problems with the wrists often occur because both hands are typically left in the air when operating mobile devices. Strain on muscles in the neck and shoulders increases when starting and stopping for the many people using the gadgets while riding in moving vehicles. Some people even get to the point where they have to get help from a physical therapist and wear a neck brace to keep the damage from getting worse.

Liu says that lowering your head, hunching over, keeping your hands in the air, and your fingers constantly moving and on clicking things, means that pretty much the entire body is in a continual state of tension, which can affect the automatic nervous system, causing headaches, constriction of blood vessels and a rise in blood pressure.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)






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