Are you suffering from dry eye syndrome?
PUBLISHED: 10:26 20 September 2016 | UPDATED: 10:26 20 September 2016
If your eyes are left sore and even watering by the end of the day, ironically you could be suffering from dry eye syndrome. Words by: Sara Niven
Long hours spent working on a computer, then back home in front of the TV, reading a book or browsing a tablet – does that sound familiar?
According to the Eyecare Trust (soon to be known as EyehealthUK), we spend three and a half full months each year staring at a screen. For many it is their eyes they notice paying the price with 90 per cent of computer users reporting experiencing eye strain, headaches and dry eye.
Symptoms include irritation or discomfort when concentrating, reading or using a computer, eyes that water excessively, feel tired or look red and a sandy, or gritty feeling. It can present a particular problem for contact lens wearers who may find them too uncomfortable to wear.
The good news is that there are some basic things we can do to help ourselves. Alisdair Buchanan of Snodland-based Buchanan Optometrists advises: “Take frequent breaks by following the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from your screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds and focus on an object 20 feet away. Minimise glare by ensuring reflections from windows and lights don’t fall on your computer screen and position your monitor an arm’s length away so your eyes are level with the screen. Don’t forget to blink either to keep your eyes lubricated – the rate we blink at can fall by up to 400 per cent when working on a screen.”
At opticians Brownbills in Ashford a Tear Clinic has been set up to help sufferers of dry eye; one they believe to be the first specialist clinic of this kind within an optometrist. New TearLab technology enables patients’ tears to be analysed to assess how well their eyes are hydrating, with advice and a treatment plan to follow. Brownbills optometrist Dr Huw Pinney said that modern lifestyles were partly to blame for the increase they’d seen in these problems.
He adds: “Some cases of mild dry-eye disease can be managed by following advice from your optometrist offered in routine eye appointments. However, due to the number of possible causes and triggers, dry eye disease is often a complex condition that is difficult to manage. Tear Clinic lets our team examine the severity of the problem, create a tailored treatment plan and provide targeted relief for moderate to severe cases.”
An initial hour’s appointment starts at £105 and Ashford-based contact lens wearer Amanda Reynolds was one of the first patients. She says: “I experienced soreness and a “gritty” feeling in my eyes every day, which regularly stopped me being able to wear my contacts. As a receptionist spending a lot of time on the computer, I found it unbearable by the end of the day and driving home was often very uncomfortable. My consultation included a tailored management plan and by my follow-up appointment a month later, there were noticeable signs of improvement thanks to following the advice of eyelid massage, using specialist dry-eye products and incorporating simple changes, including more screen breaks.”
Eye Health Week
National Eye Health Week is 19-25 September 2016. Eye care charities and health professionals across the UK will be promoting the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests and various events will be held across the UK, visit: www.visionmatters.org.uk.
Hycosan Fresh is a lubricating eye drop for irritated or mild dry eye which is contact lens compatible, £8.99 for 7.5ml, from many opticians and Boots the chemist.
Omega Eye contains Omega-3, an essential fatty acid (EFA) which cannot be made or stored by the body so has to come from diet. It has many functions within the body including eye health and may help with the inflammation caused by dry eye, rrp £27.50 per month (for three months) available at Brownbills or via: www.scopeomegahealth.co.uk.
Occles Travel Eyewear is a new British-designed eye mask with a bridgeless design which protect eyes and the surrounding area from UVA rays and can be used while sunbathing, sleeping or flying. The company quotes Dr Doris Day, a New York dermatologist, who points out that UVA rays can pass through aeroplane windows and are stronger at altitude, so flying at 30,000 feet is similar to 20 minutes in a tanning bed, £22 from www.occles.co.uk.