Have you ever noticed fatigue, stinging, or irritation in your eyes? These symptoms are associated with dry eyes, a result of insufficient tear production. Although this may seem like a minor problem, it can become more uncomfortable over time. In fact, many of the lifestyle changes we’ve made in response to the pandemic, like increased screen time and mask usage, could be making symptoms worse.
What is dry eye?
Dry eye is a condition in which there are not enough quality tears to properly lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the eyes and providing clear vision. Without them, you may experience inflammation and discomfort.
It’s all about the tears
Tears are distributed across the surface of the eye each time you blink, washing away any foreign objects and keeping the surface of the eyes clear. Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage are not in balance, normally due to decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation.
- Decreased tear production can be caused by aging, medical conditions (e.g. eye allergies or thyroid disorders), using contact lenses for a prolonged time, or taking certain medications (e.g. sleeping pills or antidepressants).
- Increased tear evaporation is a result of blinking less frequently when focusing hard at work, reading, sitting at the computer for extended periods, or being exposed to a smoky or windy environment.
Treating and preventing dry eyes
Dry eyes can become a recurring condition if left untreated, but there are many ways you can lessen your symptoms or prevent them altogether. If you're experiencing fatigue, stinging or irritation in your eyes, pay attention to what factors could be causing your symptoms.
Here are five ways you can treat and prevent dry eyes:
Consider using artificial tears
Using artificial tears to increase tear production can alleviate discomfort caused by dry eyes. Talk to your doctor about how artificial tears or eye drops could help increase your tear production. If symptoms do not subside, you may need to consider additional steps with your optometrist to treat dry eyes.
Prevent air from blowing into your eyes
When you’re sitting in front of a fan or your car’s air conditioning, the air can blow directly into your eyes. Point these and similar devices away from your face to prevent tear evaporation. Additionally, wearing masks as a preventative measure during the pandemic can inadvertently redirect air as you exhale past your eyes. Try to use masks that fit tightly around your nose to control airflow and reduce your risk of dry eyes!
Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
Did you know low humidity in the air can cause your tears to evaporate? A humidifier can add moisture to the air around you, reducing your symptoms and your risk for dry eyes.
If your eyes feel irritated when you wake up, try placing a humidifier in your bedroom. Similarly, having a humidifier near your desk can help during work hours or time in front of the computer to prevent dry eyes.
Wear protective eyewear outdoors and at work
If your dry eye symptoms are brought on by spending time outdoors, use wraparound sunglasses or other protective eyewear. You can shop for a new pair of glasses that better protect your eyes from the elements in our store - or, during your next eye exam, ask your doctor where you can find the right protective eyewear.
If you work in the manufacturing industry or with machinery, take similar steps to ensure you protect your eyes from dryness and other harmful particles that can cause vision damage.
Download our case study to learn more about how 2020 On-site can help your company prioritize your team’s eye safety.
Take breaks to rest your eyes
If you’re doing work or another task that requires visual focus, remember to give your eyes a break! Every so often, close your eyes for a few seconds, or blink repeatedly several times to spread your tears over the eyes.
In the digital age and “work-from-home” era, unplugging has become almost impossible for some. If you’re spendingmore time in front of a screen, you can prevent dry eyes and eye strain by not wearing contact lenses and properly placing your monitor 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (roughly 4 to 5 inches).
If you’re experiencing symptoms of dry eyes, it’s time to visit your optometrist. Dry eyes can often be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam, and your eye doctor can help you identify causes to advise treatment. When you schedule an appointment, our team handles the logistics of booking appointments and providing safe, efficient care to your organization at no cost to you.
If you are suffering from dry eyes yourself, 2020 On-site is launching a Dry Eye Specialty Clinic in Cambridge, MA on March 19th, 2021. A dry eye exam is covered by most medical insurance insurance plans. Book an appointment here, or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
If you care about your team’s eye health at work, contact us to learn how you can bring vision care to your employees and help alleviate their dry eyes!
When you schedule an appointment, our team handles the logistics of booking appointments and providing safe, efficient care to your organization at no cost to you.