Phones and other mobile devices have connected us like never before. Unfortunately, all that staring at screens can give you uncomfortable dry eyes. Why does excessive screen time leave your eyes parched, and what can you do about it?
I Spy with My Dry Eye a Cell Phone
Your eyes need moisture to stay healthy. They wet themselves by blinking, which spreads a film of tears over the surface of your eyes. When you are staring at a smartphone, tablet, or computer monitor, you blink less than you should. This infrequent blinking leaves your eyes dry and uncomfortable.
Screen time may even change the composition of your tears. Your tears are made up of a delicate balance of mucus, oil, and water. One study has shown that people who spend hours with their eyes locked on a computer screen had lower amounts of mucus in their tears, which can leave their eyes feeling dry.
How to Avoid Drying Out Your Eyes When Using Your Mobile Device
If you’re one of the millions of people who need to stare at screens for work or play (or can’t help but look at your phone regularly), you can do a few things to prevent dry eyes:
- Keep your screen at arm’s length. If your screen is too close, you will be less likely to blink as often as you should. Keep your screen eight to 12 inches away.
- Try not to stare. Be mindful of how often you blink when you’re using your phone or other screen. Make yourself blink more often.
- Increase your text size. The smaller the text, the closer you are likely to lean in to read it. Increase the text size to make it readable from farther away.
- Try a humidifier. A humidifier adds moisture to the entire area. This will help prevent your eyes from drying out.
- Use artificial tears. These eye drops can help moisturize your eyes during long stints at a screen.
- Adhere to the 20/20/20 Rule. The 20/20/20 rule can help keep your eyes healthy. For every 20 minutes you are looking at a screen, take 20 seconds to stare at something at least 20 feet away.