Dry eye is a very common medical condition that affects anywhere from 16 to 49 million people in the United States alone. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) estimates that around 3.2 million women over 50 are affected by dry eye as are about 1.68 million men over 50 although it is believed that these numbers could be even higher due to cases that go unreported or are self-medicated.
Reading is often a challenge for people who have dry eye. Lawyers, teachers, doctors, patent clerks, and others who have to do a lot of reading during the day may find that their dry eye condition hinders their ability to function normally.
What is dry eye?
Dry eye disease or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a broad condition that is a form of ocular surface disease. It affects the eyes, making them dry and uncomfortable. It occurs because the tear film that is on the surface of the eye has damaged or degraded so that it does not keep the eyes properly lubricated.
When the tear film is unstable, it can result in visual disturbances and other ocular symptoms like inflammation on the eye’s surface and even damage as well as neurosensory abnormalities. Dry eye may accompany other medical conditions that affect the eye, or it can simply be a matter of overuse, eye fatigue, eye strain, allergies, or excessive screen time.
Does screen time make dry eye worse?
While there is no conclusive evidence that the blue light emitted from device screens causes long term damage to the eye, including retina damage or eye disease, there is not conclusive evidence that it doesn’t either. It is best to proceed with caution, use the 20/20/20 rule (For every 20 minutes of usage, look away for 20 seconds and focus on something 20 feet away) and take frequent breaks when using a computer, television, or electronic device.
Studies have shown, however, that when a person looks at a device screen, they blink far less than normal. This can lead to dry eye or make an existing condition of dry eye worse – at least for a while.
How does dry eye affect people?
Reading with dry eyes can be very difficult and uncomfortable. Something as simple as reading a recipe or reading a bedtime story to your child can be significantly impacted by dry eye issues. On the job, you may find it difficult or even impossible to complete certain tasks if they require a lot of reading.
There are many jobs that require a lot of reading and people working in these professions may find it extremely difficult to work effectively while battling dry eye.
Some common careers that require a lot of reading or excessive screen time include:
- FOIA analyst for the government
- Political scientist
- Grant writer
- Content editor
- IT specialist
- Acquisitions editor
- Copy editor
Can dry eye be cured?
There is no cure for dry eye that will get rid of the symptoms permanently. However, there are medications, eye drops, and over the counter remedies that can help relieve dry eye symptoms. Artificial tears are a common treatment that can help, but it is better when combined with reducing screen time and allowing eyes more time to rest.
If a good portion of your job requires reading, then it can be difficult to limit screen time at work. However, text-to-speech technology can help limit screen time without limiting production. In fact, in many cases TTS speeds up production and allows the person to work faster and more efficiently than if they were manually reading.
Text-to-speech for reading with dry eye.
This is not a medical blog and does not offer medical advice, only provides information on where to look to find solutions. If you have any type of medical condition, including dry eye, you should talk to your doctor or ophthalmologist to find the treatment that works best for you.
While medications and eye drops are available and often do help with dry eye, it does not address the root of the problem which is often excessive screen time. This means that if you get dry eyes while reading on a computer, then it will return when the medication wears off.
Text-to-speech technology, such as what you get with Speechify, addresses the root of the issue by taking your eyes off the screen and giving them a break without impacting production or preventing you from reading. And with Speechify, you can speed up or slow down the reading rate or activate the highlight feature that allows you to follow along as you read.
If you are looking for a viable, effective method for reading with dry eye, this is it. Try Speechify for free and see if it is right for you.
Can I read with dry eyes?
Mild to moderate cases of dry eye will impact reading rate and impact daily tasks that call for visual concentration for any lengthy period of time. More severe cases of dry eye can make it nearly impossible to read, even for short periods.
Can reading books cause dry eyes?
Reading paper books might actually be a little easier on the eyes than reading in a digital format. Studies show that when a person reads something on a screen, such as on a computer, tablet. Or phone, they tend to blink less which can lead to dry eye. However, if the person is already experiencing an episode of dry eye, then any type of reading can make it worse.
Is reading on paper better for eyes?
Reading paper books are often the better choice for eyes, especially if there is a problem with dry eye. Screens can lead to computer vision syndrome which causes vision problems and dry eye. As long as there is good lighting and the print is a good size so it’s easy to see, eyes should not bet overly fatigued from reading traditional print books.
Can dry eye ever be cured?
There is no permanent cure for dry eyes. The condition can be managed though. There are both prescription medications and over the counter (OTC) eye drops, like artificial tears, which can help manage dry eye symptoms.
Does screen time worsen your eyesight?
While there is not enough definitive evidence to confidently state that excessive screen time actually causes permanent damage to eyes, but it certainly can cause eye and vision problems that are at least temporary – and exacerbate existing eye conditions. When people stare at a digital screen like a computer, television, smartphone, or tablet, they blink far less than normal. This can lead to dry eye and computer vision syndrome. Children who have to tilt their head up to view a screen that is positioned for adult use may experience more severe dry eye and other eye problems.