Are You Experiencing Pandemic-Related Dry Eye?
The amount of time people spend on screens has increased dramatically in the wake of the pandemic. Excess screen use is a potential dry eye trigger. To a lesser extent, so are masks. Dr. Gregory J. Johnson and Dr. Gail Kelley of Wilmington’s Intracoastal Eye discuss ways to avoid dry eye during this historic time.
The Pandemic and Dry Eye
Workplaces and schools transitioned to online work. The closing of restaurants, shops and recreational opportunities means even more time spent in front of screens for entertainment. All that screen time is increasing the number of people developing dry eye.
What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye occurs when insufficient tear production affects lubrication. Besides lack of tear production, the quality of the tears may not prove up to the lubrication task.
While those 50 and older are more likely to experience dry eye, the condition can happen to anyone. Since excessive screen use is a contributing factor, younger people are getting diagnosed with dry eye more frequently.
Dry eye ranges from a nuisance to a condition causing vision loss.
Dry Eye Symptoms
Besides pain, dry eye symptoms include:
· Watery eyes
· Light sensitivity
· Mucous discharge
Many patients feel their eyes are constantly irritated. Some report a sticky or gritty feeling in the eyes.
Dry Eye Prevention
Cutting back on screen time can help prevent dry eye. When are you using screens, take frequent breaks to protect your eyes. Every 10 minutes or so, look away from the screen and focus on something in the distance.
People using devices do not blink as often as those whose eyes are not trained on a screen. Blinking helps spread tears over the eye surface. During those breaks, focus on blinking.
If you wear contact lenses, your eyes are even more vulnerable. If you are doing a lot of work at home, consider using glasses more often.
Mask-Induced Dry Eye
Most people will not develop dry eye from mask use. However, essential workers may need to wear them for 40 hours a week or more. That means a fair amount of exhaled breath will end up on exposed eyes. Make sure masks fit properly both to reduce viral transmission and to prevent possible dry eye.
The pandemic has upended all of our lives. If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye due to increased screen use or any other reason, contact Dr. Gregory J. Johnson and Dr. Gail Kelley at Intracoastal Eye, located in Wilmington, North Carolina. Various treatment options are available depending on the dry eye cause. Giving you the eye care you deserve is our number one goal.