London: Hours of
staring at iPads and smartphones have left many young people with
dry eyes, which makes them itchy, inflamed and gritty.
The mind can 'forget' to blink, when we are concentrating on the
screen, says Christine Purslow, director of the contact lenses and
anterior eye research unit at Cardiff University. It affects the
eye's lubrication system.
We normally blink 12-15 times a minute, but using a computer
screen can cut this to seven or eight a minute, adds Purslow. This
leaves the tear film - the lubricating substance that protects eye
surface, not working properly.
About 30 percent of those over 50 years have dry eye but numbers
are rising, with many more young people affected, the Daily Mail
"As a nation we are getting older, which means the proportion
suffering age-related dry eye is increasing, where the tear film
over the surface of the eye deteriorates with age," Purslow said.
"But younger people are experiencing problems because of the
modern office, with computers and air conditioning making it
worse, as well as home use of display screens," said Purslow.
"Using a screen on your lap, the iPad for example, has a similar
effect to using a screen on your desk - you blink less," said
Purslow. Soft contact lens wearers were particularly at risk.
Clinical trials show that tear substitutes can remedy the problem
by stabilising the tear film within two to three months.