Since Phase 1 of Circuit breaker which started in April 2020, we have been seeing an increasing number of dry eye patients. Our dry eye centre has been established for last three years with new technology using lasers (IPL , Eyelight) , light and heat [Tixel] to cure dry eyes and has established a good reputation for getting patients off dry eye drops for good. But the numbers we were seeing from April till today in September have multiplicated. We blamed it on extra screen time as most are working from home (no day, no night ) , zoom drinks and Netflix and the children spending more time on line because of home based learning.Today I made a fascinating discovery. A new acronym called MADE – mask associated dry eye . This term was coined the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) at the University of Waterloo (Canada).
What do dry eye patients complain of during this COVID 19 period ?Some eye issues were-Decreased productivity as more eye breaks are needed because the eyes are tired and they felt better when they closed their eyes
- Blurring of vision
- Sensitivity to light in computer and phone screen
- Painful or gritty eyes
- Red eyes
- Watery eyes
Who are more at risk of dry eyes ?
- Those who spend hours in front of the screen . Many said they always spent hours on a screen but the dry eyes is worse now. But we do spend less time than before on things that are less straining for the eyes eg commuting , playing sports , chatting with colleagues , face to face meetings and social drinks and dinner .
- Post lasik patients because the nerves have been cut during the process of lasik
- Patients with blepharitis (dirty eye lashes )
- Patients on medication eg anti histamines , diabetes , anti depressants, oral contraceptives
- Contact lens wearers
And now we must add on the impact of wearing a MASK !
Please do continue to wear a Mask as we don’t want you to pass on or catch the Coronavirus as that is way much harder to treat than dry eyes. Make sure you wear the mask correctly as this reduces one cause of your dry eyes.
Ultimately the way to cure the dry eyes is to treat meibomitis. Yes , not a term you may have heard off but it’s the commonest eye lid condition that is the cause of dry eyes. No wonder eye drops do not work to cure dry eye eyes! The problem is the skin and not the eye. So it is time to think like a dermatologist and not an eye doctor. Don’t spend your money on dry eye drops that give you only temporary relief. Do read on more to understand how the research of dry eyes have changed so quickly over the last three years. New technologies are available to cure dry eyes so you don’t have to suffer anymore.