What is Digital Dry Eye and What Can You Do to Prevent It?

According to a survey conducted by the Vision Council, 70% of U.S. adults have experienced symptoms of Digital Dry Eye at some point in their lives with 60% having symptoms daily. Unfortunately, the problem is only getting worse. What used to be a condition predominantly seen in adults working desk jobs is now also affecting a much younger demographic due to advancing technology. Every year more than 10 million patients visit eye doctors with complaints related to Digital Dry Eye.

So, what is Digital Dry Eye?

DryEye-500pxDigital Dry Eye (or DDE) is the temporary discomfort felt after two or more hours of electronic device use. Devices include computer screens, phones, tablets and tv’s. It is known by other names as well; Digital Eye Strain, Computer Vision Syndrome; but it all amounts to essentially the same thing. Too much screen time. Blinking helps the eye stay lubricated by spreading moisture over the entire surface area every 4-6 seconds. Staring at any kind of technology too long can lead to not blinking as frequently as needed, sometimes as little as every 13-15 seconds, producing uncomfortable dry eye symptoms.

Some common symptoms of DDE include:

  • Dry, scratchy eyes
  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Back, neck and shoulder pain
  • Light sensitivity

Aside from the obvious discomfort of these symptoms, DDE can have very real consequences. Studies have shown increased errors and difficulty focusing resulting in a 20% decrease in worker productivity.

So, what can we do about it?

Possibly the simplest thing you can do to prevent DDE is to take regular breaks when using a device for an extended period of time. Try following the “20-20-20 Rule”. Every 20 minutes spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away, before returning to your screen. When you take a moment to look away you are letting your eye muscles rest and giving the surface of your eyes a chance to re-gain much needed moisture.

Managing your environment is another easy was to fend off DDE. Your computer monitor should be approximately 15-20 degrees lower than eye level when seated 20-28 inches away. Make sure you are sitting with proper posture and reposition any lighting or the computer monitor itself to minimize glare. Using natural lighting whenever possible is best.

You can also take a nutritional supplement like EyeRelief or Omega Shield from Doctor’s Advantage, which are specifically designed to support dry eyes. Taking a supplement rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, Flaxseed Oil, Borage Oil, or Turmeric Root may improve tear production and tear quality.

Society is consistently moving in a technology centric direction, and that is not likely to change. By being proactive about our visual health, practicing good habits with regular exams and nutritional supplements, we can help protect our eyes from the negative consequences associated with that same technology.

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