Most people have made major changes in their lives this past year. Children and students are spending almost the whole day in front of the screen due to online or virtual learning activities. Adults are working from home since offices are closed, and are doing televideo meetings, such as Zoom, instead of meeting in person. Many of our patients are reporting visual discomfort, difficulty sleeping and feeling tired overall during the pandemic partially from sitting in front of the computer with a blue screen for so many hours instead of moving around.

With more people working online, and available via text and email 24/7, is anyone really giving their eyes a break any more during the weekend? Is there such a thing as “not working” on the weekends?

These trends are an indication of the increased screen time during the pandemic, which can exacerbate conditions such as dry eye. This is a common condition that occurs with excessive screen when there isn’t moisture to help lubricate the eyes. Patients report symptoms such as tired eyes, stinging, burning, or a gritty sensation.

Your blink rate slows by ~80 percent when working on computers, TVs, or smartphones, This is because the image on digital screens is flickering as electrons refresh pixels to form the text and images. When you blink less frequently, your eyes dry out because they need the blink to spread tears over the eyes to moisturize, lubricate and protect the eyes. Eventually the tears that weren’t spread over the eyes thicken and end up plugging the tear making glands so that tears cannot come out to help your eyes stay white, bright and comfortable.

With the world going online, it can be easy to spend hours in front of the computer or TV screen without really giving your eyes any breaks. This in itself can cause your eyes to dry out. Children who spend more time in online or virtual classrooms are also experiencing these conditions.

How do I avoid Eye strain?

The 20-20-20 rule is recommended to help avoid dry eye or eye strain. Every 20 minutes take a 20-second break to look 20 feet away to rest your eyes. Take breaks off the screen: stand up and walk around, do jumping jacks, or run in place. You can even get some chores done like washing the dishes or doing the laundry.

Wear glasses with a blue light filter even if you don’t need a prescription. We have these in our office.

Eye exercises are great to stretch your eyes and relax your focus. Here are two relaxing eye exercises:

  • Trace a large imaginary circle with your eyes going both directions (to the right and to the left) to increase circulation and give your tired eyes a well-deserved stretch.
  • Change focus by looking at something over 10’ away, then quickly zoom in to focus on something within 10 inches from your eyes. This can help keep your eye muscles flexible and possibly decrease the progression of nearsightedness or myopia by relaxing your eye muscles.

At the Hollywood Vision Center, we also treat dry eyes in our MoisturEyes spa, which can help produce tears by opening up plugged tear glands. The treatment opens up tear glands affected by oil, bacteria, and debris to allow tears to flow to help your eyes feel more comfortable, and reduce dryness.

As one of a small select group of optometrists who are certified clinical homeopaths, Dr. Brisco can provide a comfortable, immaculate treatment experience to help treat dry eyes. Contact our office today for a consultation, and follow Dr. Brisco on Instagram where she does a daily holistic wellness blog @HollywoodEyes. She also has a YouTube Channel called Hollywood Eyes.