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Electronic Devices And Dry Eye

Nowadays, screen usage has become a normal part of most people’s daily routine. Whether you use a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other devices, the time you spend focusing on a screen can often be felt in your eyes.

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is an eye condition characterized by dry, uncomfortable, red, itchy eyes, and can be caused by several factors: poor quality tears, insufficient tears, allergies, environmental irritants, and spending excessive time staring at a screen. Left untreated, DES can cause corneal damage and scarring, and sometimes permanent vision loss.

If you think you have DES or are experiencing any of its symptoms, our Premier Eye Center optometric team can help.

How Using Electronic Devices Can Lead To Dry Eye Syndrome

Several studies have linked digital screen usage to symptoms of DES. While research is ongoing, it’s already known that the following factors all play a role.

Reduced Blink Rate

smart devices and dry eye 640Our blink rate is reduced by 66% when staring at a digital device’s screen. This finding is significant because blinking less frequently increases the risk of developing dry eye syndrome.

Blinking is a major component in keeping the eyes feeling fresh and healthy. With every blink, the eye’s tear film is replenished and spread evenly across the eye’s surface. When that happens at a reduced rate, symptoms of DES can develop.

Even if you blink often enough, you may not be fully blinking, leaving a tiny gap between the upper and lower eyelids upon closure. This tiny gap causes a ‘dry spot’ on your cornea, which does not receive any replenished fresh tears and can compromise your eye comfort. So make sure that you fully shut your lids when you blink.

Recent studies have shown that incorporating a blinking exercise into your daily routine can reduce your DES symptoms. Consider setting up reminder that pops up on your screen every few minutes.

Reduced Tear Stability

A stable tear film keeps the eyes feeling comfortable and functioning optimally.

Mucin 5AC, a protein, is an essential component of a healthy tear film that helps the watery portion of the tears cling to the surface of the eye. A study in Japan found that employees who spent the most time in front of screens (7 or more hours per day) had the lowest amount of mucin 5AC in their tears. This led them to complained of DES symptoms, like itchiness and irritation.

The employees who endured the least amount of screen time from the group (less than 5 hours per day) had higher amounts of mucin 5AC in their tears, similar to those without DES.

Higher Rate of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

The meibomian glands are the tiny glands that line the lid margin and secrete essential oils onto our tears. When these glands don’t function properly, an eye condition known as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) occurs.

MGD is an umbrella term for gland complications that can lead to an altered tear film composition, ocular and eyelid discomfort, evaporative dry eye, and ocular surface disease.

Studies have shown that people who spend 4 or more hours staring at a screen have higher incidences of MGD and DES symptoms.

So, What Can You Do To Protect Your Eyes?

Here are a few tips that may help you combat symptoms of DES when using a digital device:

  • Take frequent blink breaks
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier near your work station
  • Avoid having a fan or air conditioner blow air directly into your face
  • Stay hydrated with water, fresh fruit or vegetable juices, milk or soups
  • Eat water-based dairy foods such as yogurts, smoothies, and oatmeal
  • Use artificial tears or prescription eye drops if necessary

The most important thing you can do for your eyes is to visit a dry eye optometrist. At Premier Eye Center, we know how uncomfortable and even debilitating DES can be — and we’re here to help.

An eye doctor with specialized training and knowledge of DES can diagnose and treat the underlying cause of your condition and provide a range of effective, life-changing options.

To schedule your appointment and find the relief you need, call Premier Eye Center in Shrewsbury today.

References

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Corneal Dystrophy

Meibography Can Ensure Better Diagnosis for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

Dry eye is a common ocular condition that can occur for a variety of reasons. A leading cause of dry eye, however, is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD); it affects the essential oil layer of the eye’s tear film, causing tears to evaporate too quickly.

In fact, more than 85% of patients who visit their eye doctor due to dry eye symptoms are diagnosed with Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. MGD is a chronic condition that, when left untreated, can worsen overtime.

For optimal treatment, you first need to be properly diagnosed. Meibography is a non-invasive screening tool that accurately diagnoses MGD and enables your eye doctor to provide effective treatment to relieve dry eye symptoms.

What Is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)?

Meibomian glands are located in both your upper and lower eyelids, where they produce complex oily fluid that stabilizes the tear film and slows the evaporation of your tears. This allows the tears to keep your cornea well lubricated for comfortable and clear vision.

When the meibomian glands are either blocked or don’t function optimally, the lipid (fatty) layer of your tear film isn’t rich enough to keep your eyes moist. This causes a rapid evaporation of tears and results in friction between the cornea and eyelids.

Diagnosing Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

If your eyes feel itchy and scratchy, you may have dry eye disease. Visit Premier Eye Center, who will perform a thorough clinical exam using a meibography device that utilizes high-definition imaging technology. This allows your eye doctor to view the health of your meibomian glands with optimum accuracy. The screening process is quick, efficient, non-invasive and absolutely painless.

How Does Meibography Work?

A meibography visualizes the morphology of the meibomian glands through a series of high-definition digital images. The images allow the eye doctor to observe the architecture of the glands by revealing the gland size, structure, and any structural abnormalities.

Diagnosing MGD with certainty and clarity allows the eye doctor to prescribe the most appropriate treatment to alleviate your painful symptoms.

Can Meibomian Gland Dysfunction Be Treated?

Yes. After diagnosis, your eye doctor will choose from a variety of treatments available.

The earlier MGD is detected, the better. If not treated early on, it can cause corneal damage and even vision loss. If you feel eye irritation and suspect you have MGD, contact Premier Eye Center today to schedule your appointment.

Premier Eye Center serves patients from Shrewsbury, New Freedom, Stewartstown, and York, throughout Pennsylvania.

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Call Us 717-235-1873