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You’re not alone. This season of social distancing has affected Canadians in many unlikely ways. As an optometrist I have noticed an increase in a particular chief complaint.

“My eyes are always dry and I have to keep blinking”

What has changed during this pandemic that may have caused this? Here are just some of a few reasons why Canadians have noticed an increase in burning, itching and grittiness in their eyes.

  1. Increased screen time: Many of us are now working from home on our computers for hours each day. Many students are doing online school. When we look at screens such as our phones and computers, our blink rate decreases. Not only does the frequency of our blinks decrease, we also tend to blink incompletely. This results in dryness and irritation on the inferior part of our eyes where our lids do not cover. This can affect both children and adults.
  2. Mask Associated Dry Eye: This is caused by warm air being pushed upwards through the top of our mask directly into our eyes. This evaporates the tears and leaves the eyes feeling gritty, irritated and uncomfortable. Tape the top of your mask to reduce the amount of air escaping the top. This also reduces fogging of your glasses.
  3. Increased contact lens wear: Many people who must wear a mask daily for work have switched over to contact lenses to avoid fogging from the glasses lenses. Contact lens wear should be comfortable and vision should be crisp. However, if they are fit improperly or made of a poor material, this will result in dry uncomfortable eyes. Always ensure you are properly fit by a licenced optometrist. Not all contact lenses are made equal.

Take care of your eyes during this season. If you notice any symptoms of dry eyes, see a professional for specific treatments for you. Not all dry eyes are the same and causes can even be linked to your systemic health and medications.

Book an appointment here to get comfortable vision.

Dr. Rachel Ng, ODMarkham Optometrist