Phone screens causing a new scourge


More and more young people are victims of dry eye

Optometrists are sounding the alarm about dry eye, a “serious” and “underestimated” problem that can lead to vision loss and affects more and more young people.

According to the most recent statistics, nearly 30% of the population is affected by this scourge. But these figures represent only the tip of the iceberg, said optometrist specializing in the field, Manon Sévigny. “It is not very representative because still too few optometrists are looking at the problem,” she says.

What amazes the specialists is that they observe symptoms related to dry eye on young people, some as young as 8 years old, whereas they were previously only found in elderly people.

According to experts, the use of smart phones and tablets is the main cause. “In front of a screen, the number of blinks per minute drops to 4, while normally 16,” says Dr. Sévigny.

Chronic problem

As a result, the lacrimal glands atrophy, which can cause significant damage, including corneal irritation, which can even lead to perforation of the cornea or loss of vision. “When we blink, we have glands along the lashes that produce an oil, which prevents tears from evaporating. If we do not blink, the glands can not secrete and tears evaporate more quickly, “says Langis Michaud, professor at the School of Optometry at the University of Montreal.

“Previously, it was seen [atrophic glands] only in the elderly. Now, we see it on patients aged 24-25, who have half of the glands already atrophied, “he worries.

Although it may seem commonplace, the problem is not to be taken lightly, say optometrists. “Dry eye is chronic. If we stop the treatment, it’s certain that it will come back. It is clear that we can not heal. Once you have it, you can just improve the symptoms, “says Dr. Michaud.

“It’s such a serious problem that the device to visualize [lacrimal] glands should be a standard device in our examination rooms,” adds Dr. Sévigny.

Beware of artificial tears

Specialists also warn against artificial tears over-the-counter, which may contain preservatives harmful to dry eyes. “It’s not a good idea to self-medicate,” says Dr. Michaud.

“Generally, if it says that it removes the redness of the eye, it’s not a good idea to take this,” he gives an example.


  • Night vision problem
  • Foreign body sensation
  • ? Itching
  • ? Tingling
  • ?Blurry vision
  • Visual fatigue
  • ? Watery
  • Contact lens intolerance
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