Here are some tips about how to keep your eyes healthy if you have a ‘screen intensive’ lifestyle
British workers spend an average of 182.5 DAYS a year staring at screens, according to new research by The Eye Doctor, a medical device to treat dry eyes. The shock figures emerged in a report, which investigates the screen habits of adults, considering how long they spend glued to computers, tablets and smart phones.
Over 40 per cent of those polled admit to suffering from reoccurring headaches, tired eyes, dry eyes and fatigue as a result of their compulsion to spent time on some sort of screen device. Nearly a third of people surveyed admitted that over the last year they’ve had to notch up the font size to read on all their screens, and many have had to seek medical advice due to the headaches, migraines, dry eyes and failing eye sight experienced because of excessive use of screens.
Dr Parsloe a spokesperson for The Eye Doctor®, Ophthalmologist and contributing author of the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Dry Eye Workshops II Report (www.tearfilm.org), said: “The figures are staggering, and speaking specifically in relation to conditions like dry eyes, which nearly a quarter of those surveyed said that they suffer from, people need to consciously think of the impact screen time is having on their eye sight.”
What else causes dry eyes?
Eyes can become dry and irritated as a result of a number of other factors such as heating, air-conditioning, pollution and tear deficient dry eyes are commonly associated with age, because tear production tends to slow down as we get older. Alison Cullen, nutrition therapist and Education Manager for A.Vogel says:. “This is particularly true of menopausal and postmenopausal women, because a drop in oestrogen during this time can affect mucus production, leading to dry eyes.” Weather also play a key role, cold, windy weather can also dry out the eyes in the same way to you may find it drying out your skin. For these reasons, many people find that their eyes feel drier during the winter. This is the cumulative effect of cold weather and spending more time indoors with the heating on, often in front of a TV or computer screen for longer than you might in the summer.
How to treat dry eyes?
Remember, what’s good for the body is good for the eyes
Dr Sarah Brewer, GP and medical nutritionist says: “All the usual lifestyle changes help to protect the eyes so for example, if you’re a smoker quit.”
Remember to blink
Dr Parsole advises: “We normally blink to refresh our tears once every 10 seconds. When you concentrate, or read from a computer screen, your blink rate reduces and some people may only blink after two minutes! If you’re not blinking then the tears will evaporate from the surface of the eye leaving dry spots resulting in inflammation, redness and pain.
“Just as we care for our skin and teeth daily, we need to introduce a regular health care routine for our eye sight. The simplest way to do this is every 20 minutes, focus your eyes 20 feet away from the screen for 20 seconds to relax the eye and encourage blinking.”
Soothe dry eyes
Build in something daily to soothe tired eyes such as gentle eyelid massage to encourage healthy oil production by the meibomian glands, and use a hot compress therapy such as The Eye Doctor®, a microwaveable and reusable hot eye compress to provide instant relief from irritated, dry and sore eyes.
TRY: The Eye Doctor is £19.95 from Boots or www.the-body-doctor.com
Keep eye drops at the ready
Most people suffering from dry eyes find relief by using eye drops containing lubricants.
A.Vogel Eye Drops contain Euphrasia, a plant also known as Eyebright because of its history treating eye problems that dates back to the 14th Century. These drops are great for dry, tired and irritated eyes, and the specially designed bottle keeps the drops sterile without the need for preservatives. Most importantly for contact lens wearers, these drops can be used while wearing your lenses
TRY. A.Vogel Eye Drops 10ml, £9.40 www.avogel.co.uk
Is your diet the missing link to keeping you well hydrated?
Exactly how much water an individual needs is dependent on the person and their lifestyle or environment says Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition. “As a rule, most consider 1.5-2L per day to keep well hydrated. Don’t forget foods play a vital role also eating watery fruits like melons and vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber and celery. Omegas play a key role in and are not just found in oily fish they are also in green vegetables, quinoa walnuts and flaxseed oil.”
Supplements can help
Dr Sarah Brewer, GP and Healthspan Medical Director says: “There are multiple benefits to Sea Buckhorn Oil and a study performed by the University of Turku* in Finland with one hundred participants aged 20 to 75 years, found that after using Sea Buckthorn oil for three months their eye symptoms improved greatly reducing redness and discomfort.”
TRY: NEW Healthspan Omega 7 Sea Buckthorn Oil, 60 capsules www.healthspan.co.uk RRP £16.95
Eat your greens!
We know foods rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are good for eye health and these nutrients are linked to lower risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract and dry eye later in life. Including plenty of greens in our diets is a great way to up your intake of both lutein and zeaxathin and supporting our diet with a supplement that contains natural lutein, zeaxanthin (sourced from marigolds). Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) can also play a role in maintaining healthy levels of these nutrients in the eyes.
Research published in Optometry – the Journal of the American Optometric Association – shows that taking 10mg lutein supplements per day can even improve visual acuity in people with ‘dry’ AMD by the equivalent of 5.4 letters on a Snellen chart compared with no improvement in those taking inactive placebo.
TRY: A.Vogel Vision Complex, 45 tablets for £13.25 contains lutein, zinc, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin www.avogel.co.uk / Healthspan Retinex Max, 60 tablets £18.95. Contain 20mg of lutein and Zeanxanthin 2,000µg Plus Vitamin B2 1.4mg to support normal vision. www.healthspan.co.uk
Finally, Dr Pasole advises: “It can also help to moisten the air in the office or at home with a humidifier. Eating a diet rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids from oily fish also benefit oil consistency. If your symptoms do not improve within 30 days it is important to consult your GP who can refer you to an ophthalmologist.”