Skip to content
Do You Suffer from Digital Concussion?
Kathy Henderson, Director of Economic Development, CCEDC
Kathy Henderson

By Kathy Henderson, Director of Economic Development, CCEDC

Headaches. Dizziness. Dialed pupils. Discombobulation.  Have you experienced those problems, as you attend yet another Zoom or Teams meeting?  I have but I can also add to that list double vision. 

We have a lot of new things coming at us lately.  The pandemic and sheltering at home are just a portion of the challenges that we are facing on a daily basis.  Working remotely is very new to many of us and attending meetings or training sessions virtually while it is very convenient, can also lead to physical problems.  

I read an article in Entrepreneur Magazine the other day by Jason Feifer that approached this subject.  He wrote about comedian Nicole Arbour who realized that she was having the symptoms that I mentioned earlier.  She sent a message to the director of the Huberman Lab at Stanford University, Andrew Huberman who is a professor of neuroscience.  He told her “It immediately made sense, all the symptoms have deep roots in the biology of vision and in brain science.”  After further discussions, they came up with the term “digital concussion.”  

Huberman used the term digital concussion metaphorically to describe a set of like symptoms while an actual concussion involves damage to the brain.  He goes on to say; “there is zero evidence that up-close screen time damages the brain the same way a physical insult to the head does.” 

The good news is digital concussions are very treatable.  Those of us who are working from home or attending a myriad of meetings and training sessions virtually are putting a ton of strain on our eyes which can lead to very real pain.  

If you can assume you have no other diagnosis that may be causing these symptoms, Mr. Huberman suggests trying the following:  

Get light during the day. When we’re inside all the time, we’re not getting the kind of natural light that our bodies are used to. “Get some sunlight exposure to your eyes in the late afternoon,” he says, and do it without sunglasses. If you can’t step outside, spend some time near a window.

Look around, intentionally. In our homes, we’re often up close to things like screens and walls. That’s straining and can be especially bad for children. Huberman suggests shifting your perspective. “Keep your head and eyes stationary.  If they move around a little bit, no big deal,” he says. “And instead of looking at one point, without moving your eyes, just kind of dial out your gaze so that you can see the ceiling above you, on either side of you, and below you. You’re relaxing those muscles.”

Relax with breath.  “If you really want to trigger the relaxation response quickly, the way to do this is with what’s called a ‘double inhale,’” Huberman says. Take two breaths in, and then exhale deeply. Repeat. 

Dim the lights at night. “As much as possible,” Huberman says, “try and keep the lights low in your home after the hours of about 11 p.m.”

There you have it.  Simple solutions to a new yet very real problem and yet another definition to add to Webster’s dictionary in addition to the scores of others that we have come to use in the last several months.