Dry eyes? Your computer may be the culprit

A visit to the ophthalmologist is one of those things you need to get round to – you never know what you might find…

The DH and I finally got round to seeing ours the other day. It wasn’t for want of trying, I should add. Here in rural France, it’s a 4-to-6-month wait, and last year we couldn’t get in. Nevertheless, it was a surprise to find I hadn’t seen her for four years. That’s a bit too long, and it’s risking glaucoma, so I was relieved to find there’s nothing wrong with my eyes.

It doesn’t stop me being blind as a fecking bat, of course. Night blind, short sighted etc. But being shortsighted, my vision is now improving with age (very common, apparently), so my glasses need changing because the prescription is now too strong. In fact, I don’t need correction at all for reading, which is why my glasses are on and off my nose all day long. It’s very irritating. Now, fortunately, I have a prescription for ‘progressive’ lenses so that should be sorted out very soon.

However, I do have another problem with my eyes that I wanted to speak to her about. They’re very dry and get irritated really easily. In the mornings, it feels like someone’s punched me in the face. I’ve got humidifiers on all the rads, and a big pot of water on the stove, and I avoid the wind, the sun, red wine and hot spices, but still I have this problem. I wondered if this was to do with my age, as my skin is also becoming much dryer in my mid-40s than it’s ever been before.

But I also have rosacea. There is a nasty link between rosacea, which affects your skin, and ocular rosacea, which affects your eyeballs (which, after all, are covered in skin), and it can leave you with iritis (even blindness, if you don’t watch your step). Four years ago, she’d advised me to use artificial tears, and I use these morning and night, but still, lately, my eyes had been sore and dry much of the time.

The culprit, she told me, was my computer screen. "Where do you position it?" she asked me, and when I showed her – chin up, in line with my sightline – she shook her head. The latest thinking is that you should look down at your screen, she said, much as you would with a book if you were holding in your hands. For this reason, the screen should also be tilted away from you. Although this is theoretically bad for your neck, which is why I’d always been told to keep the screen higher, modern research is showing that it’s far better for your eyes to look downwards, because when the screen is higher, you keep your eyes fully open. And that’s a bad thing, because when you blink, you only half-close your eyes, so that you don’t lose track in the text you’re reading, and over time that naturally leads to dry eyes.

So, I’ve repositioned my screen and to tell the truth, it’s a lot better. And I’ve also got a prescription for ‘Refresh’ drops from Allergan. Time will tell if they help, but fingers crossed my days of rubbing my sore, red eyes are now over.

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