You probably spend your day on your office computer (now home office for many!). You browse social networks on your phone during breaks or at the end of the day. In the evening, you watch a few episodes of your favourite TV show. Don’t be surprised if you experience dry eyes. You are probably part of the 30% of people who experience discomfort related to dry eye. But you just didn’t know it.

Too much screen time dries out your eyes.

Spending more than five hours a day in front of a screen can cause dry eyes. Why? Because your eyes are hypnotized by it. Your natural blink reflex does not disappear completely, but it does decrease considerably. It’s important to know that frequent blinking is essential for the Meibomius glands in the eyelids. They secrete an oil that lubricates your eye by covering the underlying water layer and preventing it from evaporating. But when you blink less, your glands are no longer stimulated and can become blocked. They may even atrophy over time. That’s why dry eye requires clinical management in 85% of patients.

Are itchy or stinging eyes only related to aging?

Dry eye can occur at any age. Youth are especially vulnerable, as they are often using their cell phones and other screens. This is normal, and having grown up with screens, the blink reflex is not well developed. Younger eyes can also suffer from dryness.

Here are 6 signs that you may be experiencing dry eyes.

  1. You feel you have a grain of sand in your eye, which causes stinging.
  2. Your eyes are watery and the tears cause redness.
  3. You feel a dry, burning sensation in your eye.
  4. Your eyes are sensitive to light.
  5. Your vision is unstable and a bit foggy or blurry.
  6. Your contact lenses are uncomfortable and you have trouble tolerating them.

Dry eyes can make you feel you need new glasses, but this is not always the case. The issue may be that your cornea is very irritated and rough.

What solutions are there for dry eyes?

At Eye Am, they offer several treatments. They have three technologies to help relieve the dryness associated with dry eye. With I-Lux or LipiFlow, they can decongest your Meibomian glands and liquefy the accumulated secretions by applying heat and pressure on your eyelids. Also, IPL technology helps us treat rosacea and the associated inflammation. The emitted pulsed light causes necrosis of the abnormal blood vessels, reducing the swelling.

To treat dry eyes, you can use lubricating drops, cortisone drops and immunomodulators. For severe cases, scleral lenses to further protect the corneal surface could be an option.

Smart tip: Screen for and evaluate dry eye.

A meibograph allows your optometrist to obtain an image of your Meibomian glands and check for obstruction and atrophy. They will also be able to assess the quality and quantity of your tears, and examine the surface of your eye for signs of inflammation.

These in-depth tests identify the source of your dry eye: aqueous deficiency, lipid deficiency, or both. Whatever your ocular problem, your optometrist will propose an adapted and personalized treatment plan to manage and correct your dry eyes in the short, medium, and long term.

Technology: both a cause and a solution for dry eyes.

In conclusion, computers, tablets, smartphones, and lifestyle trends like remote work and distance learning are convenient, but can also cause some problems. As we spend much more time in front of our screens, we blink less and our eyes become dry and irritated. Unfortunately, dry eye is a serious problem that can worsen over time. However, there are technological solutions to relieve and treat it. Still, prevention is the best solution. The best way to maintain optimal vision is to schedule a dry eye screening!

Now that you know, take a screen break. Your eyes will thank you!

October 07, 2022 — Lucie Laurin