By Kym Gable

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Our relationships with our smartphones: for some, it’s attachment, for others, it’s addiction.

Several new studies show how the devices might be impacting our health.

Terms like ‘text-neck’ and ‘screen-sightedness’ didn’t exist several years ago.  But, the lingo is becoming more commonplace among medical professionals.

Text-neck or tech-neck is a condition that results from constantly looking down at handheld technology.  One study, published in the National Library of Medicine, calls it an epidemic.

Chiropractor Dr. Bob Yakovac told KDKA’s Kym Gable our heads aren’t designed to be in that position for prolonged periods of time.

“It’s not the first time [you look down], it’s the 10,000th time you put your head down and all of a sudden, you say ‘Man, it’s killing me!’”

That’s exactly what happened to one of his patients, Michelle DeBlasi.

“My neck hurt in ways I couldn’t describe.  It was excruciating. I almost passed out, it was that painful,” she said.

DeBlasi is improving under the care of Dr. Yakovac.

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“When people have their heads all the way down…. The weight of their head becomes about 60 pounds,” explained Dr. Yakovac.

That can lead to muscle and joint pain, even tissue degeneration.  Chiropractors are seeing the condition in younger and younger patients.

“Actually, it goes down to 2-years-old, because parents will give them technology to occupy their time,” said Dr. Yakovac.

Ophthamologists are also seeing younger patients.  A London-based study shows cases of near-sightedness have risen 35 percent since the advent of smartphones.

It was originally thought that constant accommodation to such small targets was to blame, hence the new diagnosis, “Screen-sightedness.”  But, Dr. Deepinder Dhaliwal posed another possibility.

“Really, the research is showing the fact that they’re reading and not playing outside in the sunlight – that’s probably the culprit,”  said Dr. Dhaliwal.

Too much screen time can lead to other issues, like dry eyes, which can cause cornea problems.

“It causes a decreased blink rate. People just aren’t blinking enough.  And it’s not only the number of blinks, but the blink is not complete,” she says.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

There are several apps you can download that encourage you to hold your handheld devices at the appropriate level.

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