Dry Eye Institute

Is my computer giving me dry eye?

Sitting behind a computer is an inevitable part of most of our daily lives. Not only the computer but cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices. This is not just limited to adults, but also toddlers who are often given technology as a means of entertainment.

So why is all this computer time causing havoc? How many of us reach the end of the day with tired, red, burning eyes? You will be a rarity in this day and age if you don’t! If we think of our eyes as still being rather Neanderthal then all this technology is not what they were initially designed for. Add air conditioning into the mix and bingo, we have quite a nice little issue.

So what happens to our eyes when we sit at the computer? If we first consider what a normal blink rate is this is a good starting point. When we are engaged in normal conversation or away from technology, our blink rate is approximately 15-20x a minute. However, when we are behind a screen this can be reduced up to 66% or more. Even more startling, is that the blinks we are doing when using technology are reduced in quality. What this means is that we are not closing are our eyes fully on eye blink.

So why is this issue. Blinking  aids in spreading the tear film. More importantly, when we blink correctly our top and bottom eye lids should meet and exert a force on our oil glands hence releasing the top “blanket “layer of our tear film. This lipid layer is essential to prevent evaporation of tears from our eyes and hence prevent evaporative dry eye disease.

Improper blinking and its effects on lipid gland under utilisation can be likened to a muscle that is not worked out enough. These glands get smaller over time and eventually die. The aim of blinking enough and also fully is to prevent obstruction, inflammation and ultimately the death of these fat glands.

For people who have a low blink rate or an incomplete blink with technology use, we can implement strategies of improving the blink rate to make it more automatic. This will be discussed in out next article.

Until then, “think the blink

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