How You Use Your Eyes


Being aware of the space around your body engages your peripheral vision. Having a broad visual field is essential to the perception of being supported by the ground. The contemporary workplace, where our eyes are trained on screens for many hours, skews the natural balance between peripheral and foveal vision (sharp, central focus responsible for details). This has a profound impact on our bodies.

Studies have shown that when we spend excessive time with our eyes in tight focus (an eight-hour day is surely excessive), the balancing mechanism of the inner ear becomes compromised. No longer certain of our relationship to gravity, we are apt to feel less secure. In preparation for the fall we subliminally expect, our spines curl, our trunks compress and our heads thrust forward. We may walk with shortened or shuffling steps. While this is the picture of an elderly person, the pattern is increasingly apparent among younger people.  For anyone who works at a computer, attending to how we use our eyes has become a rather urgent matter. Narrowing our focus to gaze at screens constricts and immobilizes our bodies. It constrains the way we perceive the world and how we express ourselves.

I often suggest that my clients take “vision breaks” throughout the day. A period of intense concentration can become a signal that such a break is needed. You have to make yourself disengage from whatever has entrained your attention—that’s the hardest part.  Then engage your peripheral vision—become aware of shapes and colours to the sides and above your body.  Look into the far distance too (if you’re stuck in a cubicle, it will do you good to imagine the far distance).  You’ll feel your eyes soften, and your neck decompress.  You might even discover a new perspective on whatever you were looking at before.  

By Mary Bond (Heal your Posture)