Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in the winter of 2020, Dry Eye was a remarkably common issue. Even in normal times, 30 percent of all people were suffering from Dry Eye, or what we call Ocular Surface Disease. And as many of us have transitioned to a virtual lifestyle, more people are getting Dry Eye from their computer and other devices.
That’s because one of the biggest risk factors for dry eye is screen usage. With millions of adults now working from home and spending all day on the computer and in Zoom meetings, we’re staring at our screens more and more. This problem also extends to teens and young adults, who are now doing most of their school work virtually.
Throw in the fact that we’re all on our phones now more than ever, and a significant portion of the population is now at risk for Dry Eye and Dry Eye symptoms. Because of that risk, there’s never been a better time to schedule an exam with Brill Eye Center. As the noted Dry Eye consultant in Kansas City and well-regarded, national leader and educator on innovative Dry Eye treatments you can’t find anywhere else, Dr. Brill and our staff are able to take a scientific approach to Dry Eye issues and provide long-term solutions for our patients.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the causes of dry eye, how you can prevent it, and why there’s never been a better time to get a Dry Eye Exam at Brill Eye Center’s office in Mission.
Causes and Symptoms of Dry Eye
What specifically links Dry Eye and screen usage is a lack of blinking caused. Research shows we blink less when we use screens. Blinking is important because it gives your eyes a thin layer of lubrication and helps protect against debris, which in turn protects against dryness and irritation.
When we use screens, we blink an average of four to eight times less per minute than normal. That might not sound like a big deal on the surface, but it adds up.
Say you’ve worked at home for a year. If you spend 8 hours per day working virtually over the course of 260 workdays, that’s literally hundreds of thousands of blinks that you’re missing out on compared to what you normally would have.
That’s when Dry Eye from computer usage can really take hold, and it can lead to an issue known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). 86 percent of the time, this will cause your Dry Eye condition. Specifically, MGD occurs because of blocked oil glands in your eyes. This causes your eyes to not produce the oil that protects the water layer of your eyelid.
When someone is suffering from MGD, it means their eyes are more vulnerable to debris and dryness and can cause inflammation. Similar to arthritis, MGD is a disease that will continue to get progressively worse without proper treatment. Some symptoms that you may experience include:
- Dry or burning sensation
- A scratchy, gritty feeling in the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Excess tearing
- Blurry and fluctuating vision
- Matted eyelids
- Red eyelid margins
- And more
How these symptoms affect the individual will vary. Some will only experience mild forms of these symptoms, while others may feel debilitating pain. If you’re experiencing any symptoms in your day-to-day life, it’s important that you seek treatment sooner rather than later.
Without proper care, these symptoms could get progressively worse and lead to irreversible damage to the eye.
How to Prevent Dry Eye While Working From Home
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent Dry Eye even if you have to look at a screen all day. Believe it or not, one of the best things you can do to help prevent Dry Eye in the first place is to blink. Not just your normal blinking that you do without thinking, but actual conscious blinking.
Get Better at Blinking
You don’t have to do this constantly, but solid, thorough blinking every so often will help immensely in combating Dry Eye. Try this at work when you’re in-between meetings, or while you’re going to make a cup of coffee. You can also do it outside of work, like while waiting for your red light to turn green or while your favorite TV show is on commercial break. Do this a few times a day, and you can even set a reminder to help you!
Limit Screen Time
It’s also important to limit your screen time when you can. Besides work or school, most of us use screens for our daily life. Communication, games, streaming, and other daily functions are all made more convenient with our mobile devices, but it’s important to step away every now and again.
Again, you don’t have to cut them out cold turkey or do anything drastic. Just a few changes here and there. Instead of watching Netflix on the treadmill, try just listening to music. Instead of scrolling Facebook for hours at a time, limit your time to a few minutes instead.
Many devices also have apps and settings that allow you to reduce the strain and light on your eyes. Check your devices for a night mode setting, or see if you can add a blue filter app to your device. These minor changes, along with consistent blinking, can help you prevent the buildup of Dry Eye while we’re all stuck at home.
Why You Should Get an Exam (Even if You Don’t Have Symptoms)
Among the 30 percent of people with Dry Eye, not everyone knows they suffer from it. Though we mentioned how potentially severe these symptoms can be, it’s also possible to have Dry Eye and feel completely fine.
However, even if you’re asymptomatic, that doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk for MGD. In fact, you may be at even greater risk for future eye problems because you can’t feel any of the early warning signs and symptoms. And during the era of COVID, where most of us are on our screens more than ever, this can lead to chronic problems quickly if left unattended.
That’s why we recommend visiting Brill Eye Center’s office in Mission for a comprehensive Dry Eye evaluation. Brill Eye Center uses an innovative, scientific process that’s proven to deliver an in-depth analysis of the condition of your eye and provide insights into the best course of action. Though there is no quick cure for your Dry Eye and MGD, you can still see significant improvements in your daily life by following our process.
When you visit, we’ll take you through a comprehensive evaluation that begins with a screening. Here, we’ll get your background information and medical history, and then perform the Standard Patient Evaluation of Eye Dryness Survey (SPEED). This survey will give us a score that acts as a report card about how Dry Eye affects your activities of daily living.
Once we’ve finished your survey, we’ll perform several different tests on your eyes to look for warning signs. We perform these tests in our office and they won’t cause any discomfort whatsoever!
Here are some tests you can expect to undergo with a Dry Eye specialist:
- Blink pattern analysis with video
- Evaluation of lipid layer thickness
- Evaluation for number of oil glands yielding clear oil
- Meibography infrared photography of the oil glands to detect atrophy
- Evaluation of eyelid inflammation, styes, and chalazia
- Dye testing for irritation of cornea and conjunctiva
- Eyelid closure and eyelid seal evaluation
- And more!
Despite the thoroughness of our evaluation process for Dry Eye, you won’t be at our facility for more than a couple of hours at most. Once we’ve completed your testing, we’ll be able to determine and thoroughly explain in lay terms the best course of action to stop your pain and suffering.
In the best-case scenario, there’s only a temporary issue with your eyes and you gain a greater sense of peace! In cases like this, we’ll give you information on how to ensure that your eyes stay healthy and how to avoid problems with Dry Eye and MGD down the line. Every case is different and remedies vary widely–there’s no one “magic bullet.”
If we do identify an issue with your eyes, we’ll be able to quickly start a treatment regimen that stops the progression of the issues that could lead to MGD. Following this treatment and healing plan should yield noticeable results of the course of multiple weeks. Most patients note during their follow-up exam how much treatments have improved their daily lives. From there, it’s all about maintenance and managing your Dry Eye to avoid flare-ups in the future.
What Sets Brill Eye Center Apart
At this point, you might think to yourself, “why should I choose Brill Eye Center over my family eye doctor or even another eye clinic in Kansas City?”. The answer is simple: no one in the area has our combination of technology, expertise, and proven results.
By the time many of our patients visit us, they’ve been to 5 or 6 other physicians and already failed with recommendations given to them. Other eye clinics and eye doctors, frankly, may not have the expertise and technology necessary to properly treat MGD and Dry Eye.
Many times, it’s treated as a guessing game instead of systematically delving into the root cause of your problem. They give out expensive eye drops that transiently make you feel better and send people on their way so that you, hopefully, will figure out what works and what doesn’t.
At Brill Eye Center, we emphasize Dry Eye treatment. We’ve spent decades researching Dry Eye, its effects, and the best methods for diagnosis and treatment, and that research still continues to this day. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our methods, and that dedication has led us to become known by patients as go-to Dry Eye experts in Kansas City and the Midwest.
With our time-tested process, you will undoubtedly see lasting results and solutions with ongoing care. We use the latest technology to spot your symptoms, and we tailor our treatments specifically to your individual issues and symptoms. We’ll find the best plan for you, and you’re assured to reap the benefits. We’ve got you on this!
Ready to Treat Your Dry Eyes? Visit Brill Eye Center in Mission Today!
For over 38years, Brill Eye Center has been at the forefront of innovative eye care. Our wealth of experience, combined with advanced technology and personalized care, allows for a rewarding experience that produces lasting results for our patients. We pride ourselves on putting the “I care” back in eye care, and we won’t rest until you’ve achieved your optimal outcome.
If you’re worried about the permanent and lasting effects this pandemic is having on your eyes, schedule an appointment today at our office in Mission! We’ve helped thousands of patients across the Kansas City metro and the United States treat their Dry Eye issues, and we look forward to helping you, too.