The Best Dry Eye Treatment For Kids And Adults (Especially After Hours Of Screen Time)

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mom and young daughter looking at a laptop screen

Since March of 2020, more of us have been working from home, and attending school from home, than ever before. This means a whole lot more screen time, and a lot less time spent offline and away from the house.

Unfortunately, this combination of factors has not been easy on the eyes, and many more children and adults are coping with dry eyes, eye irritation, eye strain, and other symptoms of eye fatigue.

While hopefully all of that screen time onslaught is about to ease up, one solution many are currently hoping for is a treatment that addresses the causes of dry eyes. 

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What is dry eye?

According to the Tear Film Ocular Society (TFOS), which published the International Dry Eye Workshop II (DEWS II), "Dry Eye is a multifactorial disease of the ocular surface characterized by a loss of homeostasis of the tear film, and accompanied by ocular symptoms in which tear film instability and hyperosmolarity, ocular surface inflammation and damage, and neurosensory abnormalities play etiological roles."

“This is the technical and admittedly somewhat esoteric way we ophthalmologists define dry eye but DEWS II is our white paper for dry eye in ophthalmology,” said NYC-area Ophthalmologist John A. Pilavas, MD. 

Causes of dry eye in kids and adults

The causes of dry eye most simply stated are: “When the ocular surface of the eye becomes dry it can manifest in symptoms of foreign body sensation, redness, irritation and intermittent blurry vision,” said Dr. Pilavas.

There’s a lot of reasons this can happen, but according to Dr. Pilavas, genetics, diet, prescription as well as over the counter medications, contact lens wear, external environmental conditions (such as directly facing an air conditioning or heating vent) and usage of mobile/computer devices all play a role in dry eyes.

“In some cases it can also be caused by systemic conditions such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Thyroid disease or Sjogren's disease,” said Dr. Pilavas, The eye can become dry because your body may not be producing enough tears, or those tears sometimes evaporate prematurely or that the tear film is simply unstable and of poor quality and is irritating your ocular surface.

Dry eyes can be caused by a number of reasons, typically an overpopulation of bacteriaon the eyelids and eyelashes, but some common triggers, according to ophthalmologist Dr. Diane Hilal-Campo are: 

  • Increased screen time: “This reduces the blink reflex, which is necessary to distribute the tears to the ocular surface and expresses the oils into the tear film,” said Dr. Hilal-Campo.

  • Masks: “This causes air to flow upward to the eyes and evaporate the tears, exacerbating and causing dry eyes,” said Dr. Hilal-Campo.

  • Poor air quality: “Such as on a plane or heavily air-conditioned room,” said Dr. Hilal-Campo.

  • Age: “Unfortunately, the older we get, the more tear production tends to diminish,” said  Dr. Hilal-Campo.

  • Poor diet: “Diets high in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to suffer from dry eyes,” said  Dr. Hilal-Campo, who recommends taking 1000 mg a day of fish oil to support the outer oil layer of the tears. “Eat more salmon in your diet to get more omega 3 fatty acids to support the outer oil layer of the tears,” said  Dr. Hilal-Campo.

Dry eye symptoms in children and adults

Dry eye complaints from children are not that different from the complaints of adults. “It should be noted that many dry eye patients silently experience their dry eye in the form of intermittent blurry vision that becomes worse with extensive computer/mobile device usage,” said Dr. Pilavas. They will commonly deny experiencing eye redness, discomfort or foreign body sensation.

“We estimate there are approximately 50 million Americans that suffer from Dry Eye Disease,” said  Dr. Pilavas, who says this was an issue for many patients before the pandemic, but he has seen an increase in dry eye complaints from patients since last March due to the increased reliance of both adults and children on mobile devices and computers since COVID 19. 

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“This is in part due to the fact that our per minute blinking rate decreases when we are using mobile devices and computers,” said Dr. Pilavas. The act of blinking helps to replenish the tear film of the eye so when we are on the computer the blinking rate decreases and causes the ocular surface to become dry. “Screen time certainly can make your eyes more dry,” said Dr. Pilavas.

The best dry eye treatment for kids and adults

Avenova, now available without a prescription, is an antimicrobial lid and lash solution that is lab tested, clinically proven, and the #1 prescribed lid and lash cleanser on the market.

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This product is designed to help with the removal of bacteria and debris on and around the lids and lashes, addressing the root cause of dry eyes and other eye infections and irritations causing children and adults discomfort.

Avenova is a sort of one-two punch for chronic eye conditions often caused by an overpopulation of bacteria. Avenova removes the bacteria leaving you with clean, soothed eyes, free from inflammation and discomfort.

Avenova is the only lab-tested, truly pure Hypochlorous Acid that is patented and FDA cleared. 

Ability to spray

At a time that everyone is avoiding germs - and touching their eyes as much as possible, any eye treatment that can be sprayed is preferential. That means not having to touch your eyes with your hands, and keeps the product portable to be used anywhere. 

To use a product like Avenova, just spray directly on your closed eyelids or spray onto a cotton round (or NovaWipes) and wipe eyelids. The product works best when it’s used twice daily, once in the morning and once at night.

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FAQs

What is eye fatigue?

“The typical term eye fatigue is for excess reading activity usually which involves computer, iPads, or smartphones,”  said Ehsan Sadri MD FACS, CEO and Founder of the Visionary Eye Institute.

What is eye strain?

With regards to eye strain, dry eyes play a large role in straining the eyes. “In some cases the muscles of the eyes can become fatigued from excessive near and computer work,” said Dr. Pilavas. 

These patients may benefit from eye glasses prescribed by an eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist or optometrist. “Certain eye exercises are helpful but I am a fan of the 20-20-20 rule,” said Dr. Pilavas.  It’s an opportunity to give your eyes a break. Every 20 minutes, stop what you're doing. Find a target 20 feet away and stare at it for 20 seconds.

RELATED: 5 Approaches To Managing Your Kids’ Screen Time Right Now

Several anti-glare filters exist that can be placed over computer screens or on eyeglasses. “Eyeglasses with blue light filters have gained a lot of popularity lately but the jury is still out about what exactly the long-term effects of blue light are on the eye itself,” said Dr. Pilavas.

We have been able to establish the effects that blue light has on sleep cycles etc but not what these effects are directly on the human eye. Time will tell but further study is necessary right now, said Dr. Pilavas.

What are eye strain symptoms?

According to  Dr. Hilal-Campo, the most common symptoms include dry/watery eyes, burning and sensitivity to light, pain around the eyes that can lead to headaches, sore neck and shoulders and difficulty keeping eyes open/concentrating. More extreme symptoms can include migraines, twitches and nausea. 

How do you fix dry eyes in children?

The best way to minimize the symptoms in children is to avoid excessive use of computers or smartphones. “The American Academy of pediatrics recommends no more than two hours per day for children,” said Dr. Sadri. 

Some physicians agree that this number should even be lower. However if you take a look around you will see most children are way beyond this number. 

Since we know that computers and mobile devices are an aggravating factor in dry eye disease, Dr. Pilavas thinks that minimizing screen time will certainly help but giving this advice to patients has become more challenging since the pandemic started with more people than ever working from home and zooming for personal and work related purposes. “I would advise keeping the eyes lubricated with artificial tears, particularly when on the computer/mobile device,” said Dr. Pilavas.

Can you use dry eye drops on children?

You most certainly can use drops for children including artificial tears. However: “It is difficult to administer as kids generally speak to not adhere well to oculus pharmaceuticals,” said Dr. Sadri. Therefore the best approach is to avoid and minimize exposure. Avenova, for example, is safe to use on children.

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What is the best treatment for severe dry eyes?

The best treatments for  dry eye syndrome are either pharmaceutical or medical device therapies.

What are the best eye drops for kids?

Avenova is a great option because it lets kids (or adults) spray the product directly on their eyelids, which is important for good eyelid hygiene while we’re all trying to learn to be better about not touching our face, but also allows eyes to heal safely.

Does screen time affect your eyes?

Absolutely. “For computer and screen use there is a 20-20-20 rule I like to abide by,” said Hilal-Campo: For every twenty minutes of screen time, take a twenty second break and focus at twenty feet and be sure to blink. 

What happens to your eyes when you stare at a screen for too long?

 Increased screen time can cause dry eyes and eye fatigue/strain. It can also cause nearsightedness and even retinal damage. 

How to protect eyes from a computer screen?

To protect eyes from a computer screen, as well as from other causes of dry eye and fatigue, Dr. Hilal-Campo recommends the following:

  1. Take breaks when using the computer. “Take a 15-minute break for every two hours of computer use,” said Dr. Hilal-Campo.

  2. Adjust your screen to the proper distance and level. “Screens should be about an arm’s length away from eyes with you looking slightly downward,” said Dr. Hilal-Campo.

  3. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. “Eliminate alcohol and caffeine, which are diuretics and can dehydrate you,” said said Dr. Hilal-Campo

  4. Place a humidifier in the bedroom and next to your workstation.  

  5. Eliminate use of overhead ceiling fans, car air conditioning or heat from a blow dryer blowing on the face, as this evaporates the tears, said Dr. Hilal-Campo.

  6. Use wrap-around sunglasses, said Dr. Hilal-Campo, when walking outdoors in the wind or sun to stop evaporation of tears. 

  7. Never put makeup on the wet line of the eyelids, where the lashes meet the conjunctiva. “This will block the oil secreting gland orifices and cause dry eyes and styes,” said Dr. Hilal-Campo. Do not forget to remove eye makeup up before sleeping to remove toxins from getting into the ocular surface. 

  8. Review your medication list for antihistamines or blood pressure medications that can reduce the aqueous production and cause a dry eye, said Dr. Hilal-Campo. Discuss possible alternatives with your doctor.  

To sum it up

Dry eye can be annoying, especially when your job or education requires you to stare at screens all day. Avenova's patented, lab tested, clinically proven, FDA-cleared eye spray relieves the causes of dry eye so you can feel your best no matter what your day brings!

Use code: YOURTANGO25 (25% off a bottle of Avenova + Free Shipping)

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyle, health, and wellness writer. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter.

-Created in partnership with Avenova.