Not all eye-drops are created equal...
Science has proven that computer users tend to blink far less frequently than those who do not use computers, which means dry, irritated eyes are common complaints. To address this, several health product manufacturers offer eye drops to relieve those symptoms.
Do eye drops help, and, if so, which ones are best for treating the symptoms of eye strain and CVS?
Up to 90% of the population deals with computer eye strain, which comes with a vast array of symptoms including dry eyes, irritation, and in some cases, even achy eyes. Several companies have created eye drops designed to relieve many of the symptoms associated with computer eye strain and CVS, and there’s also evidence to suggest that using these drops regularly throughout the day could help prevent certain symptoms from occurring at all.
The average healthy person blinks roughly 10 to 15 times per minute when engaged in activities that do not involve screens. Conversely, when working at a computer, watching television, or even playing games on a tablet, these same individuals blink considerably less often. A 2012 study published in Survey of Ophthalmology observed that people blink about 60% less when looking at a screen, on average. This failure to blink allows moisture on the surface of the eye to evaporate more quickly, and it also means that the eyes aren’t being lubricated as frequently as they should. As a result, dry eyes can occur.
Eye drops can help replenish moisture, which can alleviate dryness and irritation. However, before running out to buy just any bottle of eye drops, it’s important to remember that not all products are created equally. Some are far more beneficial than others when it comes to providing ample lubrication.
When it comes to purchasing eye drops that will help keep your eyes moisturized while working at a computer, you’ll want to look for options labeled as “artificial tears”. These drops are designed to closely mimic the lubricating agents your tear ducts produce on their own. Here are some tips for choosing the right eye drops for your unique needs.
The best way to learn how to appropriately use eye drops is to read the manufacturer’s instructions for dosing. When it comes to preservative-free artificial tears with no added ingredients, you can use these as often as you’d like. On the other hand, eye drops that contain electrolytes and thickening agents may have dosing recommendations to prevent irritation.
To use traditional liquid eye drops, tilt your head back and keep your eye open, then hold the bottle above the eye (do not touch your eye with the tip of the bottle to prevent the spread of bacteria) and apply one to four drops, per the manufacturer’s recommendations. After application, blink several times to help spread the liquid across the surface of the eye.
To use gel eye drops, tilt your head back and pull your lower eyelid down to form a pocket. Squeeze the gel from the vial, packet, or tube into this pocket, then blink your eye gently a few times. For the best results, keep your eye closed for about one to two minutes, which will help the thicker gel spread and dissipate.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of computer eye strain or CVS, eye drops may help to alleviate your discomfort. However, if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, especially related to your eyes, or if your symptoms are severe, you should always talk to your eye doctor before using any brand or type of eye drops.
Your eyes are home to billions of bacteria of varying types, and if bad bacteria begin multiplying on the surface of your eye, this can lead to infections and a condition known as conjunctivitis. To combat this, many eye drop makers add preservatives that will discourage the growth of bacteria inside the bottle once it has been opened. Unfortunately, for those suffering from moderate to severe dry eye, those preservatives can cause even more irritation.
These days, more and more eye drop manufacturers are offering preservative-free options for this very reason. However, because the lack of preservatives does little to discourage bacterial growth inside the bottle, these eye drops usually come in single-dose vials designed to be thrown away once used. Because of the more complex packaging, these eye drops are more expensive than the traditional bottles, but they are best for those dealing with CVS or computer eye strain since they tend to reapply eye drops several times throughout the day.
Update:It is now possible to get a preservative-free eye drop in a bottle with a one-way valve, giving you all the benefits of non-preservative eye drops, along with the savings and convenience of traditional bottles.