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Can staring at a screen parch your peepers?

Sending emails. Checking social media. Binging TV shows. Video chatting with friends. We spend more time in front of screens than ever before—as much as seven and a half hours per day on average, according to some studies.

While all this screen time keeps us connected, informed and entertained, it also can lead to a common condition known as dry eyes. When we're using an electronic device, we tend to blink about half as often. And, since blinking helps our eyes stay moist by spreading natural tears, our eyes are at greater risk of becoming irritated.

What are common symptoms of dry eyes?

  • A stinging, burning or itching sensation in the eyes
  • Eye redness
  • Blurry or fluctuating vision, especially after looking at a screen
  • Feeling like there's something stuck in your eyes
  • Watery eyes, which is sometimes how the body tries to soothe irritated eyes

How to prevent or relieve dry eyes?

Dry eyes can be irritating, but there are ways to help prevent the condition or find relief. The 20/20/20 rule can be especially effective. Every 20 minutes, simply take a 20 second visual break from what you're doing, blink a few times and look beyond 20 feet. If that doesn't work, you also can:

  • Reduce screen time, if possible
  • Use artificial tears when your eyes feel dry
  • Get a humidifier to help keep the air moist and prevent your eyes from drying out
  • Try wearing reading or computer glasses if your eyes are fatigued
  • Treat allergies and other underlying issues that can cause dry eyes
  • Put a warm wet cloth on your eyes to keep natural lubricating oils flowing freely and relieve discomfort
  • Schedule an eye exam because when eyes are strained they can feel dry, tired and sore

If your eyes are constantly dry and you struggle to alleviate symptoms, you may need to see a doctor. There are non-invasive treatments that can offer long-term relief. To learn more, contact your local Gundersen Eye Clinic.

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