The lifestyle changes we've made because of the COVID pandemic have absolutely contributed to worsening dry eye symptoms in many of my patients.
Many of us have heard about masks causing an increasing dry eye symptoms and certainly, that plays a role, especially for the professions that are in masks all day or if the masks aren't sealed tightly around the nose. You can get that influx of air up into the eye all day long, which will speed up the evaporation of your tears and increase dry eye symptoms for that person. I really believe the majority of patients who are experiencing increased dry eye since the COVID quarantine and pandemic are experiencing those symptoms because their screen time has significantly increased.
We know that computer time and screen time is directly linked to dry eye symptoms. Patients simply do not blink enough when they are on screens all day long. Many studies have been done on-screen time and blink rate and not blinking enough is a main contributor to dry eye disease and the main reason why a lot of our computer users have the dry eye symptoms that they do now.
We're starting to see those symptoms in younger and younger patients. Kids who were once in school are now on their computers six to ten hours a day depending on lifestyle. It's taking a toll on their eyes! We can certainly help address that in the office.
There are things you can do at home to help fight the symptoms and side effects of what excessive screen time calls. We'll talk about the importance of blinking. Blinking exercises are actually a thing that we recommend to many of our computer users, but there are also home therapies that really help aid in opening up the glands that produce your tears and keeping them open despite computer time or decreased blink rate.