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    Neck pain in the exam room and how to alleviate it

    The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

    Optometry is a profession where we sacrifice ourselves while serving others.

    Repetitive motion and posture may be major risks for neck and back pain. If you feel the pain, know you are not alone. A recent study showed ophthalmologists and optometrists have reported a higher prevalence of neck, hand/wrist, and lower back pain than family medicine physicians.1 Studies show 70 to 82 percent of eye care providers report neck and back pain.1,2

    The number of patient encounters per day can vary depending on the practice. Some ODs may see 15 patients per day, while other ODs may max out at 40+. Neck pain may be difficult to manage when using repetitive motions with poor posture, shoulders slumped forward, neck forward, and arms held up multiple times per day.

    Previously from Dr. O'Dell: How I am embracing the medical model in optometry

    Somedays may be worse than others depending on how many children or handicapped patients an OD may see. These patients can be a challenge to serve causing an OD’s contortion to be worse during the exam process.

    Work-related musculoskeletal disorders may be a pain in the neck and lead to reduced time in the office, chronic pain, and headaches. If you are experiencing pain, it is important to address it to prevent further injury.

    Here are three common exams that may give ODs a pain in the neck, how to avoid tech neck, and tips to combat the pain.

    1. Refracting

    While refracting patients, ODs must often reach above their bodies to change lenses on the phoropter. The “Which is better, one or two” procedure may cause stress on the shoulders and neck. Trial frame refracting also creates strain and stress on the area because both hands are needed to refract and manipulate the lenses.


    • Electronic refracting. Switching to electronic refracting may reduce the stress and strain on the neck and shoulders by eliminating the need to reach forward and above the midline while changing lenses.

    Related: How ODs can ease the pain of patient referrals

    • Alternating between right- and left-handed rooms. Set your exam rooms up to place your equipment on different sides of the room to utilize your right and left hands. This allows you to work from both sides of your body throughout the day minimizing stress.

    Leslie E O’Dell, OD, FAAO
    Leslie E. O’Dell, OD, FAAO, is the director of Dry Eye Center of PA and Wheatlyn Eye Care in Manchester, PA. Dr. O’Dell lectures ...

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    • [email protected]
      It is generally accepted that about 60% of patients suffer from some form of digital vision syndrome. Often digital vision syndrome manifests as neck pain, which is generally trigeminal nerve related. Neurolenses, a new product with variable horizontal prism in the vertical plane (see Neurolenses.com) eliminate or very significantly eliminate this pain in over 50% of patients. Perhaps the amount of near vision work that is part and parcel of what optometrists do day by day is, for some, a manifestation of digital vision syndrome. Anyone who has a binocular convergence disparity at near distances (more than 50% of people) are candidates for Neurolenses. This new, patented product is currently in only 25 USA practices, most in Southern California, and a few in South Dakota. Significant expansion will take place starting early 2018. I strongly suggest that optometrists follow the development of this product. This product is, I predict, going to be the biggest practice builder is many years.

    Optometry Times A/V