According to new research, a rough day at the office can cause problems with more than just your mood. It appears that dry eye syndrome cases are going up, and it has to do with more and more offices choosing to keep the office cold, and an increase in the amount of time people spend looking at their computers. The study was published in the journal Cornea.
Scientists tested the amount of tears that 12 healthy adults produced in different environments. The environments were “normal” and “dry.” Normal had a temperature of 70 degrees and 40 percent humidity, and the dry environment had a temperature of 70 degrees, but had a meager five percent humidity. The dry environment was meant especially to simulate airplane cabins and offices that are air-conditioned.
Within an hour of being in the dry environment, participants began to experience itchy, dry eyes. Additional symptoms of dry eye syndrome often include burning, irritation and red eyes. Vision can be blurred and then get better, and many times, people feel as if they have something stuck in their eyes. When left without treatment, this condition can lead to scarring on the cornea and eye infections.
More and more people are going to the doctor with complaints of burning, irritated, gritty eyes.
An estimated 25 million Americans are experiencing dry eye syndrome, and eye doctors have said that it is especially common among older people and women. Stephanie Marioneaux, Chesapeake, Va ophthalmologist, has said that it’s become an epidemic. She said she sees dry eye patients from all walks of life these days.
The cause of dry eye syndrome is largely due to the number of people that spend excessive amounts of time in environments that have low humidity, as well as looking at computers and smartphone screens because people tend to forget to blink. According to Dr. Marioneaux, people should ideally blink about 12 to 15 times every minute. However, there are additional causes of dry eye, including antihistamines, antidepressants, and certain autoimmune diseases. Also, windy and dry climates, as well as eye makeup and contact lenses.
Most of the time, patients can get relief through the use of over the counter moisturizing eye drops, and in some more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe you eye ointments to help ease your symptoms and keep your eyes feeling comfortable and well lubricated. Also, little changes, such as choosing eye makeup that is gentle to the eyes, wearing sunglasses when in the wind and making sure to blink while staring at a computer screen can all be beneficial. If you are constantly in an air conditioned environment, you may want to make sure to add some humidity to your home, and take breaks outside.