Dry eyes? Optometrists say excess screen time may be to blame

Good Day Dakota

A recent study shows that the average person spends nearly six hours a day looking at a screen. That’s equivalent to 84 days a year.

That much screen time has a huge impact on vision, and part of that is because we blink less frequently when focusing on a screen.

Less blinking can lead to dry eye, which is part of the reason why the natural ability to blink is so important.

“That mechanism is in place for us to keep our surface clean and from drying out,” explains Minot Optometrist Darin Johnson so you kind of see that correlation with the fact that 15 to 20 years ago, we didn’t have that issue.”

Johnson explains that blinking is a process of coating the eye, secreting oil from the eyelids back onto the eyeball. Blinking more keeps the glands functioning properly, so less blinking means less protective coating that can lead to inflammation.

“The issue is that our glands get so inflamed that they aren’t producing good quality tears, so if we don’t produce good quality tears, that break up of our tear film occurs, and that’s where blurred vision comes from,” Johnson says.

He said vision fluctuation is a common symptom of dry eye.

Ways to help include:

  • Reducing screen time.
  • Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds
  • Take an omega-3 supplement which will help to produce more tear film
  • Use a hot pack to reduce inflammation
  • Use lubricating eye drops
  • For more extreme cases, doctors can even create a serum from a patient’s own blood to make special eyedrops that treat chronic dry eye.

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