On average Americans work more hours per year than their counterparts in any other industrialized nation. In the last 20 years, the number of hours that we work has increased especially with the advent of the information highway and most work taking place on a desktop. In addition, it is estimated that over 70% of what we see and act on is taken in by our eyes. It is no wonder then that if we can not see or are not processing appropriately, our judgment will be impaired and our productivity off.
Research indicates that roughly 34% of today’s workforce states that they experienced symptoms of dry eye at least 3 or more times per day. Additionally, of this same group, 47% use some type of over the counter (OTC) eye drops to relieve their workplace symptoms. Interestingly, when going in for their routine eye care, 61% of these same people failed to mention this or that they were taking OTC eye drops to their eye care provider.
Dry eye affects more than 20 million people in the United States but is frequently overlooked and unrecognized on the job. For those who work on a computer for prolonged periods of time, ocular symptoms may be exacerbated by a syndrome now dubbed computer vision syndrome or CVS. CVS is often reported as increased eye strain on the computer, irritation, redness, blurred vision and sometimes double vision. Just remember that when you do a lot of concentrated work at near distances, it is normal for us to decrease our blink rate. When we decrease our blink rate, our eyes tend to dry out more.
When you combine the CVS with dry eye, you wind up with decreased which is extremely uncomfortable again affecting productivity.
So what can you do about this? The first thing is to make your eye care provider aware that you are having these issues. In the meantime, you can always try topical lubricants or artificial tears to rehydrate your eyes. Some that mimic the actual human chemical composition of our tears includes Thera Tears and Bion Tears. Some other good ones that are very viscous include Systane, Refresh Celluvisc, and Soothe. For those of you who are sensitive to preservatives, some good artificial tears with few or no preservatives include Tears Naturale Free, Gen Teal and Refresh Plus.
What is the take away? If your eyes are not comfortable while you are at work, tell your eye doctor about it and make sure you track how often you are experiencing the symptoms and what you are doing? You would be surprised at how much more efficient you could be if your eyes were not bothering you with either with Dry Eye Syndrome or with Computer Vision Syndrome that comes from dry eyes. Remember being dry is only good if you are in a rainstorm. Other than that, your eyes need to be moist for long periods of time for you to be comfortable and productive.