With increased screen time, dry eyes are on the rise

From reducing screen time to keeping a bottle of eye drops handy, here’s how to relieve dry eye symptoms

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As most of us retreated into our homes for the past two years, new research suggests that alongside the drastic shift in our daily routines came another ailment: dry eyes. From wearing masks to spending more time in indoor air-conditioned climates and an uptick in WFH and hybrid work models—as well as online education—the causes of dry eyes have grown in number and frequency with many tied intricately to our day-to-day routines.

Why do dry eyes happen?

The average adult human blinks 15 to 20 times per minute to keep our eyes clean and hydrated—but staring at digital screens can reduce that rate by more than half. And with a dramatic rise of WFH, online schooling and even gaming—along with increased reliance on our phones—we’re looking at screens more than ever before. Over time, the quality and quantity of our tears can deteriorate, resulting in digital eye strain and dry eyes. Air conditioning can also increase the airflow towards our eyes, drying them out quicker. This can be particularly noticeable for those who wear contact lenses.

How can you prevent dry eyes?

Being aware of your blinking habits—as well as consciously blinking often, especially during periods of intense focus and work—can help mitigate dry eye symptoms. The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests a 20-20-20 rule1: every 20 minutes, divert your attention away from your screens to look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Reducing the brightness and contrast on your screens can also help reduce irritability.

Avoiding open air vents can help minimize drying conditions. Improved sleep habits—which have suffered throughout the pandemic, exacerbated by lengthy home stays and lack of time outdoors—can also factor into relief for dry eyes, according to a 2021 review2 of risk factors leading to “quarantine dry eye” worldwide. Drinking more water and adjusting your diet can help prevent dry eyes; look for omega-3 fatty acids, found commonly in fish.

What if I’m unable to minimize screen time?

In today’s digital-first era, it’s not always possible to shy away from screens. For many of us, screens make up a significant part of our daily routine, totalling several hours per day.

The simplest solution? Store a bottle of eye drops at your desk to help keep eyes hydrated and relieve dry eye symptoms. A preservative-free option means you can apply eye drops as needed to soothe your eyes, including before you go to bed.

Preservative-Free Biotrue Eye Drops are available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy, and provide instant natural hydration. Available in single- and multi-dose formats, these eye drops provides instant relief for dry eye symptoms and are suitable for use with contact lenses. The main ingredient, hyaluronic acid, is naturally produced by your body and helps attract and retain moisture while soothing irritation.

Over-the-counter eye drops and artificial tears can help in relieving dry eyes, but if symptoms persist, contact your eye doctor.

To be sure this product is right for you, always read and follow the label. To receive the most up-to-date information on these products, visit www.bausch.ca or call 1-888-459-5000. Code: v2

1 Boyd, K. (2020). Computers, Digital Devices and Eye Strain. American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/computer-usage

2 Napoli, P. E., Nioi, M., & Fossarello, M. (2021). The “Quarantine Dry Eye”: The Lockdown for Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Its Implications for Ocular Surface Health. Risk management and healthcare policy, 14, 1629–1636. https://doi.org/10.2147/RMHP.S277067

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