Historically dry eye has been worse in older populations as tear production decreases naturally, but with the technology world we live in now dry eye will be a much larger problem in younger generations than has been previously. I talk about dry eye with almost every patient that sits in my chair. There are so many things that contribute to dry eye:
- Technology/digital world-blink rate drastically decreases on our screens; from about 20 blinks/minute (normal) to about 4 blinks/minute on a screen.
- Medications-the increase number of people on prescription medications contributes because many have a side effect of dry mouth/nose and eyes. I tell patients that anything drying your mouth and nose out, the eyes are soon to follow. The biggest drug class of medications that contribute: antihistamines, anti-depressants, stimulants, blood pressure meds, just to name a few.
- Females-affinity for dry eye gets worse with age because hormones will contribute to the pH balance of the tears.
- Decreased nutrition across the population- especially water intake!
- Contact lens wearers-this is a big one. Dry eye is the number reason people drop out of contact lenses. Blink rate decreases even more with contact lens wear because the air is not hitting the cornea to begin the blink reflex in the first place. Less blinking begins to increase MGD and blepharitis issues as well.
- Mask wear has also increased dry eye issues the past 18 months because of escaped airflow to the ocular surface.