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Technology increasing dry eyes condition in younger people

September 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Do your eyes feel irritated, dry or itchy at the end of the day? Your computer and smart phone may be to blame. Eye doctors say thanks to technology, what used to be a problem for the old is now becoming an epidemic among the young.An estimated 3.2 million women and 1.7 million men older than 50 suffer from dry eye symptoms each year. Now ophthalmologists say they're seeing a new generation of younger patients walk through their office doors.

"In the past, 90 percent of our patients were over the age of 50 with dry eye symptoms," said Newport Beach ophthalmologist Dr. Gregg Feinerman. "Now 50 percent of our patients are 20- to 30-year-olds."

Experts say these new dry eye cases aren't due to eye disease. but rather addiction to technology.

"People are staring at their iPhones, and their laptops and not blinking, which is causing evaporation of the tear film," said Feinerman. "They're staring at their devices for 12-hour periods and not taking breaks. and that's causing the burning and the tearing and blurry vision."

Doctor Rachel Bishop with the National Eye Institute says even something as simple as the position of your computer monitor could be to blame.

"I advise them to try to position the computer so it's a little bit lower, their eyes don't have to be open quite so wide to be looking at the screen comfortably," said Bishop.

And if you feel symptoms use artificial tears regularly to lubricate the eyes and reduce discomfort.

"Look for ones that say for lubrication, not other reasons, not looking to get the red out, not looking for allergy symptoms," said Bishop.

While occasional dry eye is probably not serious, more severe cases can lead to complications.

If artificial tears and taking breaks aren't clearing up your symptoms, it may be time to consult your eye doctor.