Head of Support Services, Glaucoma UK
Optometrist and Vice Chair, Glaucoma UK
Lots of our activity is now taking place on screens, from keeping in touch, through to collective worship and yoga sessions. Luckily, there’s no reason to be concerned about screen time if you have glaucoma or dry eye disease.
How does the use of screens affect your eyesight, if at all?
When you’re looking at a screen and concentrating, you blink less often and, sometimes, less completely. Your eyes constantly make a tear film, which nourishes the front surface of the eye. When you blink, the tear film is spread over your eye. If you’re not blinking enough, the front of your eye can start to feel uncomfortable.
Does having glaucoma affect how people use screens?
Most people with glaucoma will have no problems. If your glaucoma is very advanced, and your central vision is affected, increasing the font size or switching the colour settings on the screen (e.g. white on black) may make things easier to read.
Think blink! And rest your eyes frequently. The 20-20-20 rule is helpful – after 20 minutes of screen usage, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
What can people with glaucoma do to make using screens easier?
Glare can be a problem, so try using a glare-reducing screen or filter and position the screen away from bright sunlight or other strong light sources. This advice is helpful for everyone, not just people with glaucoma! Glaucoma eye drops can cause symptoms of dry eye disease (DED) so you may wish to ask your eye doctor whether different eye drops might help.
How does lots of time using screens affect dry eye disease?
DED occurs when your eyes don’t make enough tears or when the tears evaporate too quickly. It can make your eyes feel dry, gritty or scratchy, or even watery. Your eyes may also look red.
What can people with DED do to make using screens easier?
Think blink! And rest your eyes frequently. The 20-20-20 rule is helpful – after 20 minutes of screen usage, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Keep a good distance between your eyes and the screen. Finally, you may find lubricating eye drops (also known as artificial tears) helpful – put these in your eyes as often as you like. Heat pads for eyes can also be helpful and soothing.
Where can people go for more help if they’re struggling?
If you have a persistent problem with DED, our advice would be to go to an optometrist practice to buy some eye drops. You can buy these yourself, e.g. at a supermarket, where they may be cheaper. However, if you go to an optometrist, you can ask for advice about which eye drops are the best ones for your symptoms.