If you are one of the many people now working or attending school from home, you know that there are many challenges involved. One of the major changes to your life may be how much time you’re now spending staring at a screen for hours at a time.
If you’re feeling the effects of increased eye discomfort and/or eye dryness, you’re not alone. The impact of those additional hours on your computer or tablet — at the same time allergy season is kicking into high gear — can take its toll on your eyes.
Optometrist Dr. Whitney Hauser, OD, FAAO explains that eye dryness can be caused by many different factors, and that sometimes more than one factor can be affecting someone’s eyes at the same time.
Causes for eye dryness include:
- Medications you may be taking
- Ophthalmic surgery
- Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), which especially affects post-menopausal women
- Contact lens wear
- Environmental factors like air dryness
- Use of digital devices
“It’s important to note that all eye dryness is not the same,” says Hauser, “and establishing the specific type of eye dryness a person has is important for creating a customized treatment plan.” She recommends identifying what factors may be exacerbating your eye discomfort by trying some of the strategies below.
How can you help relieve the discomfort and dryness your eyes are experiencing?
1. Take frequent breaks from screens
Take periodic breaks not just to look away from the screen or shut your eyes briefly to rest them, but to actually get up and walk around, looking at objects at different distances and directions to relieve eye strain. Set a timer on your phone or computer to remind yourself to take breaks every 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Blink frequently
Even more regularly, remind yourself to blink slowly and gently. Blinking throughout the day helps to keep your eyes moisturized. Close your eyes gently a few times in a row as often as you can, to help keep your eyes from getting too dried out as you stare at your computer screen.
3. Keep the air clean
Change your HVAC filter frequently to help reduce potential allergens in your home. Consider also using an indoor air filter in the room where you work, especially if you know that you suffer from allergies.
4. Try artificial tears
Use lubricating eye drops to help relieve temporary eye dryness, irritation and discomfort. For over-the-counter artificial tears to help improve the symptoms of eye dryness, with low incidence of blurring with each use, choose from Allergan’s family of Refresh Relieva lubricant eye drops to help protect and care for your eyes: Refresh Relieva, Refresh Relieva PF preservative-free multidose or Refresh Relieva for Contacts.
“Refresh Relieva works well for many patients because it comes in both a multidose preservative-free version as well one specifically for contact lens wearers,” says Hauser.
5. Avoid rubbing
While you may be tempted to rub your tired eyes for temporary relief, rubbing can actually irritate your eyes in the long run. Instead of rubbing your eyes when they feel itchy or discomfort, reach for artificial tears or eye drops to help provide relief from your symptoms.
Be sure to contact your health care provider or eye doctor if you experience eye pain or discomfort that does not go away using these tips, as it can be a sign of a more serious issue.
For information about products to relieve your eye discomfort or irritation, visit Refreshbrand.com.
Dr. Hauser is a paid Allergan consultant.