Protect your eyes from dryness, one blink at a time

A simple change in office habits helps

People in corporate jobs tend to spend a lot of time working on laptops, which can strain their eyes during the day. The result often is reddened, dry, itchy or burning eyes; blurred vision and light sensitivity — all considered to be symptoms of ‘dry eyes,’ caused by a lack of eye fluid or ‘tears’ to keep eyes well-lubricated. Over time, dry eyes can increase the risk of eye infections, inflammation, vision problems and scratched cornea.

You need to take a closer ‘look’ at your office habits and start making that change to protect your eyes.

For instance, when we look at a screen intently for a long time, we forget to blink. It makes our eyes release a tear film made up of oil, water and mucus through meibomian glands located in the eye. Not blinking enough can block the flow of this lubricant and cause blockage of the glands, resulting in ‘meibomian gland dysfunction’ (MGD), a leading cause of dry eyes.

Looking up at the screen is also a problem. When the level of the screen is above the eye-level, we open our eyes wider while working. This leaves more of our eye surface exposed, increasing the rate of evaporation of tears from our eyes.

Well air-conditioned offices are comfortable but not the best thing for our eyes. Our body loses moisture in this cold environment and this causes dryness, increasing the risk of dry eyes because tears evaporate faster in cold, dry air.

Wearing lenses to work is another concern. Although newer lenses promise to help keep the eyes lubricated, wearing contact lenses continually for long periods of time does contribute to dry eyes.

So, for your eyes only, it’s time to prevent dry eyes, one blink at a time.

Since blinking, like breathing, is something we do involuntarily, we must train ourselves to blink correctly. And here are some simple tips: follow the 20-20-20 rule whenever you work in front of a screen for a long time. Every 20 minutes, look at something about 20 feet away for around 20 seconds. Make sure that your computer screen is about 4 to 5 inches below your eye level.

Glasses instead of lenses

Wear glasses instead of lenses to work. Glasses act as a barrier to the AC draft and also prevent tears from evaporating quickly. Stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water where you can see it, so you remember to drink through the day. Apply a warm compress to the eyes. And use eye drops and over-the-counter medication, recommended by your ophthalmologist, if needed.

In 8 out of 10 patients, the cause of dry eyes is meibomian gland dysfunction. Its treatment can help prevent permanent gland loss and unblock the glands. Some patients may need specialised treatment, in addition to eye drops and warm compresses. Leading ophthalmologists have advanced tools to apply heat to and massage the inner and outer eyelids and treat MGD. If you are worried that you may have this condition, you need to meet your doctor on what needs to be done to prevent any further damage and get the appropriate treatment.

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