Why Do I Have Dry Eyes at the Office?
Are your eyes always dry? It could be because you work in an office.
Office workers are more prone to develop dry eyes than people working in other environments. That’s because common dry eyes causes include air conditioning, low air quality, and poor office setup.
Read on to understand why dry eyes at work is so common. We also talk about the causes of eye dryness in the office and what you can do about it.
Let’s start with the prevalence of dry eye among office workers. Because it really is a big problem.
Is Dry Eye Common Among Office Workers?
A 2016 study on 7,441 European office workers found that 34% of respondents experienced dry eye symptoms in the last four weeks.
The study suggests that building design and the lack of operable windows and humidifiers are major contributing factors to dry eye disease in the office.
Dry eyes are among the most often reported acute symptoms in modern offices. More than causing unpleasant symptoms, dry eyes at work can decrease work performance. No wonder since feeling your eyes always dry can make working on a computer a pain.
In a survey of 294 office workers, 75% of respondents answered that dry eyes and related symptoms inhibited their daily activities.
What’s more, a study involving 355 men and women found that dry eyes decreased productivity by 4.37% to 6.06% depending on the severity of the condition. Individuals who self-reported having dry eyes experienced the highest performance loss.
The study also calculated the annual work productivity cost associated with dry eyes. It found this to be $741 per individual.
Causes of Dry Eyes in Office
The tear film consists of a watery layer, an oily layer, and a mucin layer. Together, these layers play a crucial role in ensuring that the tear film lubricates and protects the surface of the eye.
Any imbalance in these layers can lead to dry eyes and other eye complaints. From dry air to cleaning irritants, environmental factors in offices can easily disrupt the stability of the tear film.
As a result, tears may evaporate too quickly. This leaves the surface of the eye dry and lacking normal lubrication.
Over time, the problem can become chronic. Working in an office can also worsen existing dry eye problems.
Multiple causes can contribute to dry eyes at work, from spending hours in front of a computer to air conditioning and a bad desk setup.
Let’s take a closer look at why you’re at risk of developing dry eyes indoors.
Digital eye strain
You can get dry eyes from computer work or other visually-demanding tasks that you perform over extended periods.
Close eye work reduces your blink rate and increases incomplete blinks. Together, these can make your eyes feel dry.
Working on a computer for hours every day can also lead to computer vision syndrome.
When it comes to dry eyes, air conditioning is often to blame. Air conditioning increases room temperature by heating the air.
But without a humidifying function, the relative humidity drops as the temperature rises.
Low air quality
If your eyes always feel dry at work, low air quality could be to blame. Dust, chemicals from cleaning products, exposed concrete, or smoke are just some of the factors that can decrease air quality in an office.
Not all offices are designed with eye health in mind. From overhead fans or vents blowing dry air at you to windows that cannot be opened, many design choices can inadvertently make an office an eye health risk.
Fluctuations in temperature, humidity, and airflow in an office setting due to sunshine can also worsen dry eye symptoms.
Uncomfortable desk setup
When you can’t adjust the desk height, chair, or monitor, you may have to sit too close to the screen or slouch. Poor lighting only compounds these problems.
How to Reduce Dry Eyes at Work
Whether you develop dry eyes at work or working in a cubicle worsens existing symptoms, you can find relief without quitting your job.
Here are the things you can do to improve symptoms and reduce the risk of dry eyes becoming chronic.
Use a portable humidifier
As we’ve seen, aircon systems in offices often decrease humidity levels. Without enough humidity in the air, your tears evaporate too quickly.
One way to compensate for dry air in the office is to start using a small portable humidifier. For example, one that you can attach with a USB cable to your computer.
Take frequent screen breaks
Your blink rate naturally decreases as you use a computer or smartphone. The good old 20-20-20 rule comes in handy. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away from your computer for 20 seconds.
It may take a while to get used to this rule. It helps to set a reminder on your phone or computer so that it becomes a habit. Your eyes are well worth the trouble.
Adjust your desk setup
The right desk setup can help with dry eyes, to say nothing of neck or back pain. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Adjust your desk height if possible to match your elbow height.
- Place the screen about an arm’s length away from your face, at an angle between 10 and 20 degrees. The top of the screen should be at eye level.
- Keep your head and back upright, sitting fully in the chair.
- Ensure your neck and shoulders are relaxed.
- Keep your thighs parallel to the floor while your feet rest on the ground.
Stuck with an unadjustable desk? Place some books under the desk’s legs if it’s too low. Or if it’s too high, raise your chair.
Take an eye health supplement
The right mix of vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients can help reduce dry eye symptoms and keep your eyes healthy for many years to come.
SightC is a plant-based, all-natural vision supplement. It brings together the power of superfoods like goji berries and turmeric with herbs long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat eye ailments.
The proprietary blend of ingredients in SightC has been empirically tested at the Wellspring TCM Technology Institute. These ingredients work together to nourish your eyes and support the healthy functioning of the tear glands.Keep your eyes healthy in and out of the office with SightC.