Can Screen Time Cause Dry Eyes?
Tears are more than an expression of extreme emotion. Tears play an essential role in eye health by lubricating, protecting, and sustaining the eye’s surface. In other words, clear vision and the equilibrium of the eye are maintained by high-quality tear production.
It should go without saying that a lack of quality tears causes dry eye syndrome. When looking at a computer, tablet, or phone screen for a prolonged period, the eyes do not blink as much and do not have the opportunity to moisturize themselves. This causes poor-quality tears to dry out too quickly. Evaporative dry eye (EDE) leaves the eyes feeling parched.
In Chicago, IL, the Wicker Park Eye Center team can help patients suffering from dry eyes due to computers and other types of screen time. To avoid or relieve dry eyes, follow these guidelines:
Adjust Computer Settings
Computer monitors default to displaying bright light which induces eye strain. Adjust the brightness of the computer monitor to create a dimmer light source. Similarly, small text causes the eyes to squint. Increasing text size diminishes the risk of dry eye syndrome and headaches.
Improve Lighting and Minimize Glares
Good lighting improves productivity, safety, and creativity in the workplace. Soft, indirect illumination (such as a lamp) relaxes the eyes and reduces the risk of screen glares.
In contrast, open windows and fluorescent bulbs can intensify glare on computer monitors. When a reflection bounces off a screen, this creates glare, making it difficult to see the computer monitor. Place a glare filter on top of your monitor to diminish the harshness of screen glares. It’s relevant to note that flatter screens produce less glare.
Water replenishes mucous membranes throughout the body. Dehydration exacerbates chronic dry eye symptoms. Dehydration on top of extended screen time further aggravates dry eyes. Make sure to drink at least eight glasses of water every day.
Improve Air Quality
Low humidity causes tears to evaporate prematurely. A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can prevent and reduce the effects of dry eye syndrome.
Smoke in the atmosphere can irritate and dry out the cornea. Protect eyes from firsthand and secondhand smoke in the work area.
Taking quick, frequent breaks reduces strain on the eye and increases tear production. Every hour or two, stretch your muscles or take a short stroll to alleviate soreness throughout the body.
During screen time, follow the 20/20/20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away. This can lessen stress and fatigue on eye muscles. Turn this rule into a habit by setting a timer.
Visit Wicker Park Eye Center
If you’ve tried all of these tips only to continue suffering from dry eye syndrome, it’s time for an eye exam at our Chicago practice. Our doctors can determine the cause of your specific dry eye and design a plan for relief. Treatment may include one or a combination of the following:
- Eye drops
- New corrective lens prescription
- Warm compresses
- Eyelid cleansers
- Punctal plugs
- Lifestyle changes