The amount of time spent staring at computer screens and smartphones has increased the number of people making appointments at an optometrist Victoria complaining about dry eyes. At first they may pass it off as simple eye fatigue even blame seasonal allergies for their dry, itchy, irritated eyes, caused by all the screen time. The issue is that unlike reading a book or watching TV all the focusing requires the eye muscles to work much harder going back and forth. As a result all the focusing means we forget to blink, blinking is an important function that stimulates tear production and spreads the tears over the surface of the eye. As we continue to blink less frequently several issues arise with eyes feeling gritty and dry. When extended periods of time are spent in front of computer and smartphone screens remind yourself to blink, look up from the screen and even get away from the screens for short periods to rest your eyes.
There are two main reasons for dry eyes, aqueous deficiency and evaporative dry eye. Aqueous deficiency is a condition where the lacrimal gland doesn’t produce enough water to ensure the eyes are kept moist. Many people mistakenly believe this to be the reason for their dry eyes when in fact only a small percentage, 4 – 16% of cases of dry eye are attributed to aqueous deficiency. The large majority of cases of dry eye are found to be evaporative dry eye, when this is the cause the Meibomian gland of the eyelid creates an oil layer of tears. Without this layer of oil the tears evaporate 4 – 16 times faster and the result is discomfort and dryness for anyone with this condition. What happens is sometimes the gland is blocked and doesn’t perform as it should and the diagnosis is evaporative dry eye. There are a few options available from eye drops to treatments to unblock the Meibomian gland.
If you’re experiencing dry eyes and the precautions mentioned above don’t provide any relief an appointment to your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam to uncover if there are any issues causing your dry eyes might be called for. If the Meibomian gland is blocked or you have aqueous deficiency the Optometrist can diagnose and suggest treatment options.