Office environment contributes to dry eye symptoms

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: June 9th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Spring sprung a couple months ago and in many parts of the country, allergy season came with it. For some, dry, itchy eyes weren’t far behind.

And though many of us write off the redness as trivial, it’s a major medical concern in the U.S. Tens of millions are estimated to suffer from symptoms of dry eye syndrome.

Research suggests that eye irritation stems mostly from the environment… but it’s the one inside, not out, that’s frequently posing problems.

For office workers, the air conditioning alone can often be troublesome because the lack of humidity dries eyes out. Then there’s that modern staple of office life… the computer. People who stare at computer screens all day blink as much as sixty percent less than average. This can be problematic because the eye’s cornea is nourished by tears, which are replenished by blinking.

Also, blinking less means the eye is more exposed to air, which causes tears to evaporate.

Symptoms of dry eye are typically temporary and cause no long-term damage. But the Food and Drug Administration advises the tens of millions of Americans who suffer from it to seek treatment.

Studies show that people who wear contacts or who have had Lasik eye surgery are most likely to experience dry eye syndrome. Postmenopausal women also may experience it.

If your eyes are prone to irritation, your doctor might recommend tear-replenishing or anti-inflammatory eyedrops. Reducing the hours you wear contacts and even eating foods rich in omega-three fatty acids could help too.