Computers, smartphones, video games and other sources of sensory overload have made eyestrain a common problem in this complex, high-tech world.
Taking breaks from the computer might help, but Marie Riley says simple, low-tech acupressure techniques can release muscle tension, promote circulation and aid in healing.
Unlike acupuncture, which uses needles to stimulate the body’s chi, or energy, acupressure uses the fingertips to ply the same "acupoints" to "balance and re-energize the body," she said. The acupoints are connected on energy pathways called meridians. Many of the acupoints for the eyes are located near the eyes, and people might already being using acupressure techniques instinctively without knowing it.
For example, using the thumb and index finger to massage the bridge of the nose, pressing up and then down, is an acupressure method to relieve both eyestrain and headaches.
Riley, who teaches acupressure classes at Windward Community College, says the simple exercises can be done anywhere. "Acupressure doesn’t take much time," she explained. "Points can be held for 30 seconds or longer. One student used the techniques while she was stuck in traffic and found the one that worked for her. She was able to get rid of her headaches."
Riley also recommends taking deep breaths while doing the exercises.
The Kailua resident said her interest in acupressure was sparked when she sought ways to maintain a healthier lifestyle back in the 1970s. Eventually, acupressure and tai chi became what she considers "a lifestyle."
CLASSES WITH MARIE RILEY
All classes run 10 a.m. to noon at Windward Community College; $9 per session. Reservations required a week prior to class. Visit www.windward.hawaii.edu/continuing_education or call 235-7433.
Each of Riley’s classes begins and ends with tai chi. One movement, "expanding all horizons," involves looking over one shoulder and then the other.
"This move is good if you’ve been staring at a computer screen all day. It relaxes the eyesight by looking into the distance," said Riley, who graduated from the Los Angeles College of Massage and Physical Therapy.
"It’s also good for the neck and shoulders and influences the chi going to the eyes. It helps the breathing to become steady and slow and quiets the nervous system. Tai chi and chi kung movements share the same purpose as acupressure: to balance chi."