What is the effect of screen time on our eye health and vision?
The average person reduces blink rate by up to 80 percent while viewing a screen, causing the eye’s surface to dry out. Additionally, the typical blink during this time will not be a complete blink. I recommend patients set an alarm on their PC or phone to beep every half hour, to remind them to do 3-4 squeeze blinks as opposed to partial blinks. The squeeze blinks stimulate your eyelids’ tear-producing glands, and keep the tears flowing correctly. Otherwise, they may clog up, and the glands will get to the point of atrophy and dying, leading to a potential loss of all tear glands.
What would you recommend in terms of my child’s daily screen time?
What is very important to consider is how far your child holds the screen from his/her face. Children don’t have very long arms, and I have seen 3-year olds hold screens only a couple of inches from their face. This is very problematic as it can induce myopia at a young age. In short, the distance from the screen is as important or even more important than the amount of time on the screen.
Do you have any other screen time tips?
Patients seem to find that blue-light-blocking glasses reduce a lot of eyestrain. Low power computer glasses can be beneficial also.
What treatments does your practice offer for patients suffering from dry eye disease, perhaps aggravated or caused by screen time?
Certainly, there is a lot of medical intervention that can be done, which depends on the severity of dryness. There are a number of oral and topical medications that can help with dry eye, from antibiotics to steroids to specialized artificial tears. For severe dry eye, more specialized treatments can be utilized from tear gland expression to Lipiflow, the gold standard of dry eye treatment.