Screens are everywhere. Our computers. Our phones. Our tablets. Our televisions. And we all spend plenty of time staring at those screens. But did you know that too much screen time can cause dry eye? Read on to learn about this condition and what you can do to keep your eyes moist.
What is dry eye?
Your eyes constantly produce tears to keep your eyes moist and comfortable. However, if you’re not producing enough tears, your eyes can feel uncomfortable. Symptoms of dry eye include:
- Mucus in or around the eyes
- Blurry vision
- Red eyes
Your eyes can also produce too many tears in an attempt to make up for your dry eyes. This can overwhelm your tear drainage system, which can cause tears to overflow from your eyes.
So how is all this screen time causing dry eye? Well, when you stare at a fixed object like a screen for a long time, you blink less. On top of that, you’re also likely not closing your eyes completely when you do blink. This means the tears coating your eyes evaporate quicker, and that can cause dry eyes.
On top of that, if you wear contact lenses the chances of your eyes drying out increase. Some studies have shown contact lenses could as much as quadruple the likelihood of your eyes drying.
How do you treat dry eye?
This doesn’t sound comfortable, but fortunately there are things you can do to help your eyes. CEENTA Optometrist Ron Melton, OD, recommends blinking exercises where you squeeze your eyes closed every five seconds for one minute. You can do this four times a day, at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime.
When you’re at your computer, it’s recommended that you get up every 20 minutes and look away from your screen. It’s also suggested you blink your eyes 10 times by slowly closing them.
Dr. Melton also advises using artificial tears twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening. He recommends Soothe XP tears, which contain mineral oil, and Systane Balance tears.
And when you’re home, you can try placing a washcloth soaked with warm water over your eyes for 5-10 minutes a day, once per day. You can also try wearing a Bruder mask for 10-15 minutes, once per day. A Bruder mask is a wearable compress that, when microwaved, released stored water as moist heat. It was designed to care for dry eye and other eye conditions.
“This will help stimulate the glands in your eyelids to produce more oil, helping to make better quality tears,” Dr. Melton said.
It may be difficult to spend a day without screens, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a day without comfortable eyes, too.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Melton practices in our SouthPark office. To make an appointment with him or any of our eye doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.