New 'office eye' disease develops from computer and TV screens

Tears provide the natural protection and care for eyes: they moisturize the eye surface and prevent infections

A new term has recently appeared in ophthalmology – 'the office eye.' Candidate for medical sciences, a specialist for the institute of eye diseases of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Tatiana Safonova, clarified the essence of the new term and talked about the ways to prevent the development of eye diseases for office workers.

Tears provide the natural protection and care for eyes: they moisturize the eye surface and prevent infections. The chemical structure of human tears is rather complicated: they consist of protein, adipose and carbohydrate compounds. There are three layers of the tear fluid: a thin adipose surface layer, which prevents evaporation, the middle layer, which moistens the eye, and the internal layer – the additional or the mucous layer, which keeps the two other layers on the surface of an eye.

A certain disorder or the absence of one of the two layers results in an illness known as the dry eye syndrome. A lack of tears creates the feeling of dryness and irritation in the eyes, giving an impression of having a foreign body in them at times. Sometimes people suffer from photophobia, itching and even pain. Scanty tears lead to eye fatigue at reading, watching TV or working at a computer.

Only one reason can be considered natural at this point: the teardrops secretion decreases with age. If the tear balance is disturbed at a young or a middle age, it means the implication of the following risk factors:

1. The hormone balance disorder. Eye doctors of the whole world have proved that hormones influence the chemical structure and the amount of tears. That is why, all states of human body connected with an altering level of hormones, a menopause, for example, may lead to eye discomfort.

2. Dry air in offices or apartments equipped with heating or air conditioning devices. Warm and humid air is more comfortable for the eyes. That is why, a lot of women, whose eyes suffer from tear disorders try to avoid saunas.

3. Sensitive eyes have a painful reaction to dirty air – dust or cigarette smoke.

4. Computer monitors and TV screens dry eyes as well. Eye doctors have made up a new definition to designate such an ailment – an office, or a monitor eye disease.

5. Wearing improperly selected contacts. There are a lot of eye clinics in large cities, where pseudo-specialists are happy to consult their customers without any doctors at all. In addition, one may order contacts on the Internet now. 

6. The tear structure may also change due to certain medications, especially birth control pills, sleeping pills and blood pressure drugs.

One should avoid staying in dirty premises for long; it is recommended to moisten the air in offices and apartments. Short breaks every 20 or 30 minutes are recommended for those, who spend most of their time in front of TV or computer screens.

If a dry eye syndrome appeared, it will not vanish at once. Sometimes it might take years for the eyes to retrieve the normal secretion of tears. That is why, doctors recommend using eye drops, or artificial tears, for those individuals, who complain of first displays of eye dryness. Artificial tears are capable of making up the deficit of natural tears; they wet the cornea and protect the eyes from external actions.

The modern pharmaceutical industry offers a variety of tear replacement products. Artificial tears are divided into two groups, which basically provide short-term and long-term care. If eye drops don't help, one should consult a doctor, because the ailment has most likely damaged the conjunctiva and the cornea.

Ksenia Nisova

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Author`s name Olga Savka