Children can get Dry Eye too.
Dry Eye is something that most of us associate with aging, but did you know that dry eye can affect anyone and that symptoms of dry eye are on the increase in younger age groups?
It is important that we watch out for the signs and symptoms of dry eye in children as often they can be easily missed or mistaken for something else.
Modern lifestyles continue to present challenges to our eyes. Screen time is on the increase with so many leisure activities turning to digital platforms, and of course the increase in remote learning throughout the pandemic has added to the digital burden.
Our tears form a complex and delicate structure that coats the surface of the eye. They have several important functions which include preventing infection, lubrication during blinking, flushing away debris and keeping the surface of the eye smooth so that we can see clearly.
Tears are continually produced to cover the surface of the eye with each blink, before draining away to allow the next the process to repeat itself. One important component of the tears is produced by tiny oil glands along the edge of our eyelids. As the eyelids meet during a blink, the oils are released allowing them to spread thinly over the surface of the tears as our eyes open. This super-thin oily layer stops the tears from evaporating and leaving our eyes feeling dry.
When we look at screens, and this can be any digital device including video games, we can blink up to 2/3rds less than we should. This means that our tears are more likely to evaporate and leave our eyes feeling dry and uncomfortable. Additionally, if we don’t have a smooth layer of tears our vision can become blurry leaving the temptation to blink hard or even rub our eyes to try and redistribute the layer of moisture again.
Some other triggers for dry eye symptoms include air-conditioned environments and poor diet.
My top tips to help reduce the symptoms of dry eye include:
- Limit screen time and remember the 20:20:20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and look at something in the distance (at least 20 feet away). You can make this more effective if you blink a few times too.
- Drink more water. Keeping hydrated is important for healthy tears.
- Include foods high in omega -3 essential fatty acid such as fish, seeds and dark leafy vegetables as it can help improve the quality of our tears.
- Minimise the use of air conditioning, especially in cars as this can lead to our tears drying out further.
Scope have developed some educational material designed for children to understand their eyes. Click here for more information, if you are in any doubt, Ask your Eye Health Clinician for more information
As always, if you have any concerns about your child’s eyes or if you suspect dry eye, as always please seek advice from your Optometrist.