Digital Eye Syndrome

Question: What is "digital eye syndrome" and what causes it?

Answer: Digital eye syndrome is a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture in the eye, and it can lead to slight irritation or to ocular inflammation of the eye’s tissue. The most common symptoms are persistent dryness, an insatiable scratching, the feeling as if something is stuck in your eye. Patients also complain of a burning sensation of the eyes usually after prolonged use of personal devices. There is no single cause but risks of developing this problem are multifactoral. The most common offending activity is over usage of your cell phone, tablets, computers and video games. During usage of these devices, blinking is severely diminished and the tear film evaporates too soon, leaving the ocular surface unbalanced. An increasing number of patients, including school aged children, are being diagnosed with dry-eye syndrome as a result of staring at computer screens for extended periods of time. If working on personal devices for extending periods of time, consider a behavior modification like taking a break from the activity after an hour to give the eyes a rest and re-establish normal blinking activity to keep the eyes from drying out. Also, consider using a preservative-free lubricating eye drop like Systane and Refresh to balance the tear film. Alternatively, Restasis is a prescription filled eye drop that specifically enhances the tear film and Omega 3s may also be supplemented.

MONIQUE M. BARBOUR, M.D.Clear Vue Eye Center