Why are Your Eyes Dry and Burning with Extended Screen Time?
The vast majority of people today spend at least two to four (sometimes 20!) hours of their day mesmerized by a computer or other screen or phone. Concentrating on these devices and other close-up objects induces “near point stress” on your vision which reduces your blink rate as we don’t want to miss a thing by blinking!
Distance vision tasks which require extended concentration such as staring at the television or a videogame or even driving a car can also cause decreased blink rates. All of these activities which reduce blink rates can cause excessive exposure of the eye’s front surface (cornea). Like any other exposed surface, the cornea gets dry in time causing burning eyes, sandy or gritty sensation, and red eyes. This dryness can also cause watery eyes as your reflex tears dump excessive tears to protect the cornea which then flow over the lower eyelid (epiphora).
Other factors can also aggravate dry eyes when concentrating on certain tasks such as an incorrect glasses prescription which can lead to stress on the visual system and reduce blank rate. Those of us in the bifocal years may be incorrectly (or not using at all) their progressive multi focal lenses leading to increased eye strain. Also, low humidity especially in the winter months, can further increase tear evaporation and dry eyes.
Some simple solutions are available to help reduce the effects of dry eyes with visually demanding tasks. The most obvious is of course….blink more! That may sound silly but making a conscious effort to take a break, look in the distance and blink a few times every 30 to 60 minutes can greatly increase tear circulation and decrease dry eye problems.
Update your eyewear prescription and consider computer glasses especially designed for the screen and other near point work. Computer glasses have become especially popular of late with the huge increase in number of people working from home. These specialty glasses will effortlessly focus your eyes for near tasks, relieving near point stress, and allow an increased blink rate.
Lubricating eye drops can also be very helpful with dry eyes at the screen. We always recommend preservative free (in single use tubes) rather than lubricating drops in a bottle as all bottled drops have preservatives which can cause inflammation and actually more dryness. Avoid all forms of Visine, Clear Eyes, Murine, or other “eye whitening” drops which may temporarily make your eyes white but significantly break up your own tear layer, worsening dryness, inflammation and redness. Our eyedrop of choice is Preservative Free Retaine which can be purchased in our clinic. We recommend lubricating your eyes with Retaine BEFORE starting computer work or other visually demanding task and at regular intervals while performing the task to prevent the dry eye symptoms before they start.
To further discuss solutions for your dry eye problems, please schedule an appointment by following the link below.
Thanks for reading and best wishes for great vision!