According to the national Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), work-related musculoskeletal disorders, including repetitive motion injuries (or repetitive strain injuries) make up the "largest job-related injury and illness problem in the United States," accounting for one-third of all occupational health complaints.
Repetitive motion injuries (RMIs) are the result of performing the same motions over and over again throughout the day, and while this type of impairment may not present any visible injury, beneath the surface it can cause pain, swelling, numbness, and tingling as well as a loss of strength and/or flexibility in the affected area.
Eye care professionals are especially at risk.
In one survey of more than 400 optometrists, 82% of the respondents said they experienced regular work-related physical discomfort because of the repetitive tasks they perform during exams throughout the day.
And in a similar study involving 94 eye care physicians and 92 family medicine physicians, researchers noted a higher prevalence of neck, hand and wrist, and lower back pain among the eye doctors when compared with the general physicians. According to study authors, "Several job factors reported by eye care providers to contribute to musculoskeletal symptoms included performing the same task repeatedly, working in awkward/cramped positions, working in the same position for long periods, and bending/twisting the back."
Finally, in a recent study of more than 160 ophthalmologists and optometrists, 70% of the study participants reported neck and back pain associated with physical discomfort while performing the daily tasks of their jobs.
As evidenced by these studies, RMIs in eye care professionals occur most often in the neck, back, and shoulder regions. If left untreated, symptoms may become permanent, which can impact not only your physical well-being but also the long-term health of your practice.
Automate the pain away with digital refraction technology.
One of the most common procedures performed by eye doctors is refraction, which may account for up to 90% of your day depending on your practice. If done manually, refraction involves continually flipping plates and sitting in uncomfortable positions to reach the projectors—neither of which is good for your body.
The constant awkward postures and movements can increase your risk of developing RMIs, including bursitis, an inflammation of the tiny pockets between the muscles and bones that can cause stiff, aching joints as well as painful swelling and redness. Not surprisingly, bursitis is one of the most common injuries affecting eye care professionals, but digital refraction technology may be the key to reducing the pain and discomfort of manual refraction.
Digital refraction systems allow doctors to sit in a comfortable position and manage everything from a simple, handheld control panel. As a result, these systems have been shown to help lessen the risk of pain and injury from repetitive tasks. When you think about the long-term benefits for your health and the health of your practice, going digital just makes sense.
Digital refraction technology also offers additional benefits.
Along with eliminating repetitive movements and improving your physical comfort while in the office, digital refraction systems improve the overall flow and functionality of your practice. Below is a quick list of benefits you can look forward to.
- Increased efficiency
- Shorter exam times
- Combat reimbursement reductions
- Easy EMR integration
- More patient referrals
- Increased optical sales
- Competitive advantage
- Safer for social distancing
You can read more here about the benefits of switching to digital refraction.
Also try these simple strategies to help alleviate work-related pain and discomfort.
- Stretch as often as possible. Whenever you can throughout the day, stand up from your stool or chair and do some light stretching. Try to avoid sitting in the same position for too long, especially if that position is awkward or uncomfortable.
- Take frequent breaks. Taking breaks is an important part of helping your muscles and joints stay limber and loose. It is also important for your mental health, so don't forget to pause every now and then to go for a quick walk, have a snack, or just step outside for some fresh air.
- Pay attention to your posture. Notice how you position yourself in your stool or chair while you are working with your patients. Likewise, how do you stand? Try these simple tips to help maintain better posture at work.
Veatch digital refraction systems put your health and safety first.
Upgrading to digital equipment can go a long way toward helping you feel more comfortable throughout the day and reducing the risk of developing repetitive motion injuries over time. Browse our selection of digital refraction systems online, or contact us to discuss choosing the right digital system for your needs and budget.
With over 30 years in the business, Veatch Ophthalmic Instruments is a leader in the industry, and we look forward to helping you build a healthier, more efficient practice for you and your patients.