Dry Eye Hits Home and The Office

Dry Eye Hits Home and The Office

There are many factors that can cause one’s eyes to become irritated or fatigued with a burning, gritty, itchy, or dry feeling at home or at work. For some, it may be a minor nuisance but, for others, it can be a major distraction or even inhibit the ability to carry out daily tasks. For over 25 million Americans, these irritating symptoms are a result of Dry Eye Syndrome.

Dry eye is a progressive disease and, over time, symptoms will only become worse. Recent research has now brought to the forefront that over 86% of all those with dry eye have a treatable form known as Evaporative Dry Eye.

What many with dry eye do not realize is that there are many factors at home and in the office that can contribute to a flare-up of symptoms and increase severity. There are steps one can take to minimize the extent of discomfort if you are aware of the factors that can exasperate dry eye discomfort. Below are some factors that can contribute to aggravated dry eye symptoms.

  • Viewing computer screens or other digital devices for long periods of time including tablets and mobile phones can exacerbate dry eye symptoms.
  • Reading for long periods of time or throughout your workday can often cause excessive tearing and you may find yourself constantly rubbing your eyes.
  • Exposure to air conditioning or a fan indoors can often increase eye dryness or other related symptoms.
  • Exposure to smoke, even if for short periods of time, can cause flare-ups.
  • Dietary factors with low intake of vitamin A or omega 3 fatty acids will increase the likelihood of dry eye symptoms.
  • Dry climates or windy conditions can speed tear evaporation and can contribute to excessively dry eyes.
  • Certain medical conditions and medications can reduce tear secretion. For example, blockages in the glands that produce oils essential to maintain the protective watery layer in your eyes may be the culprit.

Now that we have an understanding of the most common contributing factors, here are some steps you can take to mitigate the extent of dry eye symptoms:

  • Make sure the screen is 20-26 inches away and that it is positioned a little below eye level.
  • Remember to regularly clean your computer screen to reduce glare or consider using a glare filter on your screen.
  • Be conscientious of blinking regularly when reading, watching TV or driving. Many have low blink rates during these activities. Blinking is important as it provides consistent tear production.
  • Use a humidifier at home and in the office to keep moisture in the air.
  • Ask your eye doctor about medications and side affects that may decrease tear production.
  • Apply a gentle massage to your upper and lower lids several times a day to stimulate tear and oil producing glands.
  • Eye drops are helpful but make sure you are using the right drops for your eyes. Be mindful that dependency on drops can be a sign of needed medical attention.
  • Make sure your diet contains a fair share of leafy green vegetables and try to include fish, nuts and other foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Try to avoid excessive intake of sugar or artificial sweeteners as this has been linked to dry eye. A can of soda alone can have over 9 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Wear protective eyewear or sunglasses in windy conditions. In dry climates, keep drops close at hand.

If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, take the proper steps to minimize dry eye irritation. If your symptoms are severe, find an eye doctor near you and  schedule an appointment and address them promptly; early detection is essential. If you have dry eye, it is highly likely that the root cause is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, commonly referred to as MGD. This is a blockage of oil producing glands under the eyelids and, in most cases, is treatable. Learn more about MGD.