You May Suffer From Dry Eye – What You Need to Know

Are you one of the millions who suffer from dry eye? Here’s how to spot the symptoms and find relief.

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Have you noticed that your eyes are red or you’re rubbing your eyes on video calls? Are you finding it difficult to focus on docs or that your vision gets blurry while scrolling? When you take a screen break and step out into the sunshine, are you sensitive to light? Perhaps you can’t work on your computer for too long and need to close your heavy eyelids.

Since the pandemic began, the time we spend in front of screens has exponentially increased, with school, work, socializing and entertainment all moving online. Our world has changed and, whether we like it or not, excessive screen time is here to stay. While this may be the “new normal,” dry, gritty, burning, irritated eyes shouldn’t be.

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Staring at screens for hours at a time not only produces digital eye strain and fatigue but suppresses our blink reflex, which can cause dry eyes. We blink less than half as often when we’re on our digital devices — on average, we blink 12 times per minute but only 5 times a minute when we’re on a computer.

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Dry eye is a disease of the tears and eye surface that results in discomfort, visual disturbance, and tear film instability with potential damage to the eye’s surface. It’s a common problem that happens when your eyes don’t produce enough tears to stay wet, or when your tears don’t have the right chemical composition and evaporate too quickly.

With each blink, a layer of tears is spread across the cornea, the front surface of the eye. Tears are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision. They lubricate your eyes, wash away debris and reduce the risk of infection.

A feeling of dryness is the most common symptom of dry eye, but other symptoms aren’t as straightforward. Excessive tearing, for example, happens as a natural reflex in response to dryness.

Have you noticed any of the following symptoms?

  • Eye dryness
  • Eye irritation
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Scratchy eyes
  • Gritty eyes
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Fluctuating or blurry vision
  • Excessive tearing

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Dry eye isn’t just uncomfortable — chronic dry eye can lead to severe complications, including eye infection, scarring of the cornea or impaired vision.

“Like most people, since the start of the pandemic I have spent much more time staring at my phone, my laptop and other screens throughout the day,” said lifestyle personality and host of ET Canada Sangita Patel. “As a result, my eyes often felt tired and irritated. I started to think this was my new normal and was glad when I finally looked into solutions and found effective relief with Systane Ultra eye drops. My learning: there’s no reason to have to live with the discomfort of dry eye!”

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Top 10 tips for dry eye

  1. Get fast relief with eye drops. A go-to option for dry eyes is to soothe discomfort. Get fast relief with eye drops. A go-to option for dry eyes is to soothe discomfort. SYSTANE® is the #1 recommended brand in Canada with optometrists, general practitioners, and pharmacists. SYSTANE® Ultra Preservative Free is suitable for sensitive eyes and can be used with contact lenses. It provides essential moisture to help eyes feel lubricated and refreshed. SYSTANE® Ultra Preservative Free provides fast-acting, temporary relief for dry eye. And it’s available without a prescription.

*This product may not be right for you. Always read and follow the label.

  1. Blink often when on your devices. This helps to keep the eye surface moist.
  2. Take breaks from your computer. For every 20 minutes of screen time, focus your eyes on something 20+ feet away for 20 seconds.
  3. Invest in a humidifier. Dry climates can increase tear evaporation.
  4. Keep indoor air clean. Use an air cleaner to filter dust and other particles, and change the filters in your home and car regularly.
  5. Wear sunglasses, especially on windy days. This reduces your exposure to the sun and drying winds.

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  1. Wear goggles while swimming. Chlorine and other chemicals in pool water can wash away the tear film.
  2. Drink lots of water. Your body needs proper hydration to produce tears.
  3. Reduce the amount of air blowing into your eyes. That includes fans, car air conditioning, heating vents and hair dryers.
  4. See your eyecare professional. Don’t suffer in silence. Book an appointment with an eyecare professional to see what they recommend.

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Best Health Canada
Originally Published in Best Health Canada