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Electronic Devices And Dry Eye

Nowadays, screen usage has become a normal part of most people’s daily routine. Whether you use a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other devices, the time you spend focusing on a screen can often be felt in your eyes.

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is an eye condition characterized by dry, uncomfortable, red, itchy eyes, and can be caused by several factors: poor quality tears, insufficient tears, allergies, environmental irritants, and spending excessive time staring at a screen. Left untreated, DES can cause corneal damage and scarring, and sometimes permanent vision loss.

If you think you have DES or are experiencing any of its symptoms, our The Dry Eye Center At Eye Trends optometric team can help.

How Using Electronic Devices Can Lead To Dry Eye Syndrome

Several studies have linked digital screen usage to symptoms of DES. While research is ongoing, it’s already known that the following factors all play a role.

Reduced Blink Rate

smart devices and dry eye 640Our blink rate is reduced by 66% when staring at a digital device’s screen. This finding is significant because blinking less frequently increases the risk of developing dry eye syndrome.

Blinking is a major component in keeping the eyes feeling fresh and healthy. With every blink, the eye’s tear film is replenished and spread evenly across the eye’s surface. When that happens at a reduced rate, symptoms of DES can develop.

Even if you blink often enough, you may not be fully blinking, leaving a tiny gap between the upper and lower eyelids upon closure. This tiny gap causes a ‘dry spot’ on your cornea, which does not receive any replenished fresh tears and can compromise your eye comfort. So make sure that you fully shut your lids when you blink.

Recent studies have shown that incorporating a blinking exercise into your daily routine can reduce your DES symptoms. Consider setting up reminder that pops up on your screen every few minutes.

Reduced Tear Stability

A stable tear film keeps the eyes feeling comfortable and functioning optimally.

Mucin 5AC, a protein, is an essential component of a healthy tear film that helps the watery portion of the tears cling to the surface of the eye. A study in Japan found that employees who spent the most time in front of screens (7 or more hours per day) had the lowest amount of mucin 5AC in their tears. This led them to complained of DES symptoms, like itchiness and irritation.

The employees who endured the least amount of screen time from the group (less than 5 hours per day) had higher amounts of mucin 5AC in their tears, similar to those without DES.

Higher Rate of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

The meibomian glands are the tiny glands that line the lid margin and secrete essential oils onto our tears. When these glands don’t function properly, an eye condition known as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) occurs.

MGD is an umbrella term for gland complications that can lead to an altered tear film composition, ocular and eyelid discomfort, evaporative dry eye, and ocular surface disease.

Studies have shown that people who spend 4 or more hours staring at a screen have higher incidences of MGD and DES symptoms.

So, What Can You Do To Protect Your Eyes?

Here are a few tips that may help you combat symptoms of DES when using a digital device:

  • Take frequent blink breaks
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier near your work station
  • Avoid having a fan or air conditioner blow air directly into your face
  • Stay hydrated with water, fresh fruit or vegetable juices, milk or soups
  • Eat water-based dairy foods such as yogurts, smoothies, and oatmeal
  • Use artificial tears or prescription eye drops if necessary

The most important thing you can do for your eyes is to visit a dry eye optometrist. At The Dry Eye Center At Eye Trends, we know how uncomfortable and even debilitating DES can be — and we’re here to help.

An eye doctor with specialized training and knowledge of DES can diagnose and treat the underlying cause of your condition and provide a range of effective, life-changing options.

To schedule your appointment and find the relief you need, call The Dry Eye Center At Eye Trends in Conroe today.

The Dry Eye Center At Eye Trends serves patients from Houston, Spring, Woodlands, Conroe, and throughout Texas.

References

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Dr. Inns is a 1982 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilfred Laurier University, Canada. During his training at the University of Houston, he held positions in research and was a teaching assistant / laboratory instructor.

Postgraduate work includes therapeutic courses at Pennsylvania College of Optometry and the Optometric Glaucoma Specialist Course at the University of Texas Medical School. Dr. Inns has published in Optometry Today and Optometric Management. He also volunteers at the schools in his area.

Dr. Inns and his wife, Lynn, spend much of their spare time calling and visiting with their four boys.

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As the manager of The Woodlands office, Amber Draper leads the team with the focus on patient care and assisting with their ophthalmic needs. Having over 10 years experience, Amber can aid patients with the most appropriate lens technology to match their daily needs. Everyone needs at least one pair of sun wear, especially here in Texas.

Amber is a proud graduate of Sam Houston State University with a BA in History, and a minor in Spanish.

In her spare time, she is with family, friends, and enjoying some Houston Texans Football.

Dr. Toups is a 1984 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from Northeast Louisiana University.

Being a therapeutically licensed optometrist, Dr. Toups is trained to diagnose and treat ocular conditions. He specializes in contact lenses and he is current with all refractive surgery procedures.

Dr. Toups is married, has five children and has lived in the Houston area since 1980.

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