The dry eye ‘epidemic’

A 12-year-old Xbox enthusiast had the blepharitis symptoms of a retiree

13 Feb 2017 by Selina Powell

Delegates at the UK’s largest optical trade show heard how an increase in daily screen time has led to a dry eye “epidemic.”

Senior contact lens optician, Ros Mussa, highlighted the case of a 12-year-old video game enthusiast with blepharitis symptoms more common among pensioners.

“There is a problem out there and it’s not based in any particular social group,” she emphasised at 100% Optical (4–6 February, London ExCeL).

“It’s going to affect all of us. It’s an epidemic that is global,” Ms Mussa added.

Dry eye disease symptoms included light sensitivity, watery eyes, contact lens discomfort, fluctuations in vision and dandruff around the eyelids.

In some cases, the discomfort caused by dry eye resulted in anxiety and depression, Ms Mussa highlighted.

“We’re dealing with a quality of life issue,” she emphasised.

Ms Mussa explained that dry eye was a lifestyle-based disease. People who spent long amounts of time in front of a screen had a greater risk of developing the condition as they did not blink as often.

Optometrists were well placed as a profession to manage dry eye, Ms Mussa emphasised.

She said she would often offer treatment for the condition even though a patient had not directly raised it as a concern.

“If you step in a bit sooner you’re not going to get to the point where the patient is complaining. It’s about being proactive rather than reactive,” she explained.

“The patient will say after treatment, ‘I didn’t think it was bad but I can now see better and my eyelid moves easier’,” Ms Mussa concluded.


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    I agree that the dry eye scenario is becoming more and more prevalent in these days of multi-screen usage. Even children need to be advised on good protocol for their ongoing eye health. It's never too early to get into good habits! I have a little motto which I pass on - 'THINK,BLINK,DRINK'. I liken the cornea to a car windscreen and remind adults that if that gets dirty we wouldn't dream of putting the windscreen wipers on without using the 'squirters' first. I also explain that the amount of tears produced reduces the older that we get and the more we need to supplement them, just like we put moisturiser on our skin. Gillian Monk

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