Whether at work or in our private lives, we stare at large or small screens every day, putting our eyes under a lot of stress. While looking at a digital screen we unconsciously blink less. The result: our eyes are no longer sufficiently moistened with tear fluid, they dry out and begin to itch, burn or even water. But there is something you can do about it!
What happens to the eyes during digital eye strain?
If you sit in front of a screen in the office every day, frequently look at your smartphone and watch films with your tablet and on TV in the evening, you hardly give your eyes a break. This phenomenon is called digital eye strain.
A continuous exposure can have a negative effect on the eyes. This is because looking at a screen whether of a PC or a smartphone, strains the eyes in several ways. On one hand, the bright light is an overstimulus, and on the other hand, focussing on the digital screen reduces the blink rate. Most people are not even aware that they blink much less when they focus on a screen. However, the blink rate decreases massively when using digital media. Instead of blinking 20 times, we only blink about 5 times per minute.
However, blinking has important protective functions:
- Foreign bodies are removed with every blink.
- At the same time, the ocular surface is moistened with fresh tear film and thus protected from intruders such as germs and bacteria.
It is estimated that 80 percent of the population, and rising, is affected by digital eye strain due to modern lifestyles.
A low blink rate and its effect:
- If we blink less, the sebaceous glands located in the eyelid secrete less oil also known as lipid. However, this is an important component of the tear film, which is made up of a mucin layer, an aqueous phase and a protective lipid layer.
- If this oil- or lipid-containing protective layer is missing, the tear film breaks up prematurely and evaporates.
- This leaves an unprotected dry eye, which becomes susceptible to irritation and pathogens.
What causes dry eyes?
Dry eyes are differentiated into two forms, which can also occur simultaneously:
- Volume deficiency: It is caused by a reduced production of the aqueous phase that therefore cannot adequatedly lubricate the eye
- Compromised lipid layer: in this form of dry eyes the lipid production is affected . Consequently, the oily layer that is supposed to protect the tear film against evaporation is deficient or insufficient and cannot protect the ocular surface from drying out. This is called evaporative dry eye.
In almost 60 % of dry eye patients, the sole cause is a compromised lipid layer1. A further 31 % suffer from the mixed form of compromised lipid layer and volume deficiency1. A compromised lipid layer is also the main underlying cause of digital eye strain.
1 Tong et al. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci,2010. 51: 3449-3454
What are the symptoms of a compromised lipid layer?
A compromised lipid layer manifests itself via different symptoms. One symptom alone can be a clear indication of dry eyes caused by an affected lipid layer:
- burning sensation
- watery eyes
- problems whilst looking at computer screens
- irritated eyelid margins
- contact lense intolerance
The symptoms are usually worse in the morning and improve throughout the day. A typical symptom is watery eyes. This is because the formation of the lipid layer is affected by a reduced blink rate. However, this lipid layer is important as it stabilises the tear film thereby giving the ocular surface the necessary protection. If this layer is missing, the tears run out of the eyes and can therefore not fulfil their protective function.
How does EvoTears® help eyes during screen time?
EvoTears® prevents the premature evaporation of the tear film, as seen with digital eye strain. This is because the aqueous portion of the tear film evaporates quicker when the lipid layer is affected. EvoTears®, on the other hand, forms a protective layer over the tear keeping the ocular surface lubricated for longer.
The oil-like eye drops are thus a simple solution to prevent dry eyes. In contrast to most artificial tears they do not replace the aqueous part of the tear film but the protective lipid layer that covers the aqueous phase and thus protects it from premature evaporation. EvoTears® does not simply relieve the symptoms but tackles the problem of a compromised lipid layer.
Get EvoTears® at your pharmacy
What else can I do against digital eye strain?
You can actively preserve the health of your eyes. To prevent chronic digital eye strain you should definitely pay more attention to your eyes. Here are a few simple tips on how to take care of your eyes and get well through a day in the office:
- Blink: Consciously remember to lubricate your eyes by blinking regularly. For example, a note that you attach to the screen can remind you to do this. Take short breaks from time to time in which you blink rapidly. This stimulates the production of tears.
- Regular breaks: Give your eyes a rest. In the office it is best to take a break from looking at the screen once an hour for a few minutes. Use the time to look out of the window.
- Oxygen: Your eyes need oxygen to recover. Air the room several times during the day if you are indoors. A short walk outside would be even better.
Spending a lot of time in front of a computer screen at work is usually a must. However, it is up to you whether you use digital media in your spare time. Therefore, for the sake of your eyes, try to reduce their use. Instead of watching a series on your tablet after work you can just as well go for a walk. Also, limit the use of your smartphone to the bare minimum. Even small changes in the way you use digital media mean more rest for your eyes.