Winter. It’s here and we’re cranking up the reverse cycle air conditioning and heaters as we brace for a few chilly months in Toowoomba.
As you snuggle up in the warmth with a cuppa and your laptop or smartphone for the company, you may feel your eyes becoming scratchy, irritated and fatigued. This is known as Dry Eye Syndrome and it occurs when there is not enough moisture to keep the surface of the eye lubricated.
Some of the symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome include:
- Itchy, burning eyes that may feel gritty
- Eye redness
- Watery eyes (yes, even though it’s called ‘dry eye syndrome’)
- Eye fatigue
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
What causes it?
A range of factors – both physiological and environmental. As we age, we produce less tear film to keep the eye surface moist. Menopause can be a time of increased dry eye symptoms for women. A number of health conditions including diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis can cause dry eye symptoms, as can certain medications. Environmental factors such as air conditioning, heating and windy outdoor conditions are also big contributors to Dry Eye Syndrome. Another major culprit is too much screen time on your laptop or device which reduces our rate of blinking. When we blink, moisture ‘washes’ across our eye surface, keeping the eyes lubricated. We usually blink about 20 times per minute but when staring at a screen, it can be as little as 5-10 times per minute.
Here are our tips:
- Firstly, call in to see us at Outlook Eye Centre so we can check your dry eye symptoms, rule out any other eye health issues and develop a treatment plan for you. Our optometrist Shannon Smith is therapeutically qualified and can prescribe the right eye medication for your specific symptoms, to improve eye comfort straight away.
- Be aware of your indoor and outdoor environments to minimise dry eye symptoms. Avoid sitting directly in the line of heaters and air conditioners and make sure your car heating isn’t aiming for your eyes!
- Take regular breaks when using computers and devices. Limit your screen time to 20-minute bursts and don’t forget to blink!
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon, tuna, sardines and walnuts). They have a proven effect in reducing eye inflammation.