If sore and irritable dry eyes are affecting your professional life, you are not alone. Dry eye disease is poorly understood by many doctors let alone your manager or co-workers.
Finding empathy in this situation is an uphill battle.
But you should try.
With estimates suggesting dry eye syndrome will affect 20-30% of the population by 2018, it may well be time to take stock of how and where you work; not to mention the devices, screens and gadgets you work with every day.
There is no escaping the fact that technology has greatly increased our screen time in the last 10 years. Where would we be, professionally, without the blackberry, iPad or smartphone for example.
And how can we ever be as efficient without these devices you ask.
That is a difficult question to answer. There is seemingly no getting away from technology and the role it now plays in our working lives.
Our eyes are consistently bombarded by light sources all the time.
This causes free radicals to damage the health of the eye over time. Not surprisingly, anti oxidants and free radical fighters like lutein, vitamin c and glutathione are very active in protecting the retina and eye tissues.
Top Dry Eye Culprits In The Office
- Screen time – many of us use PCs, laptops and iPads, taking limited breaks and working 8 to 12 hour days. Adding to this, we have a natural tendency not to blink as a much when using devices.
- Overhead lighting – poor office lighting can exacerbate glare from desktop and laptop monitors. Where there is little natural light combined with substandard lighting, this can have you reaching frequently for those artificial tears in the top draw.
- Air conditioning and humidity – a big complaint from dry eye patients is air conditioning or poor humidity levels in an office environment. Most modern offices have systems in place to regulate the air, specifically controlling the temperature and humidity. You may have noticed that quite often the air is just a touch too dry in corporate environments.
Dry Eye Symptoms
Dry eye symptoms tend to wax and wane, feeling better one day and terrible the next. It is the unfortunate nature of the condition. Chronic dry eyes, however, are pretty much a day-to-day burden. Many of the common symptoms such as stinging or gritty feelings, light sensitivity or bloodshot eyes are simply made worse by being in the office in artificial lighting conditions and in front of the computer.
A commonly reported symptom of dry eyes is reduced tolerance for reading, computer work or any activity that requires sustained visual attention.
Anyone suffering mild to severe dry eyes will relate to this on some level. It is easy to see how a chronic dry eyes could seriously limit your work life or career progression.
The sense of frustration, despair or depression associated with chronic dry eyes can affect your day-to-day life and career in many ways – often flying well under the radar of your manager and colleagues.
Stories of people giving up promising careers in corporate life or in roles where large amounts of screen time are the norm are becoming increasingly common.
What You Can Do If You Fear For Your Career
- Try and get a diagnosis. This is more difficult than it sounds. However, at the very least, going through the process with an Opthalmologist or eye specialist will let your boss know there is a real issue to deal with and you are working on a solution.
- Can you take time off or work from home when the symptoms are at their worst. You can then work at your own pace and \ or work in natural light, free from overhead lighting and the dryness of air conditioning.
- Find a dry eye drop or artificial tear that works for you. One that at least goes some way to making the work day a little easier. Do not overdue it. Consistently relying on dry eye drops will not help you in the long run.
- Tell your family and friends or seek some professional counselling to help with the stress or anxiety you might be facing. Find a helpful online forum so that you know that you’re not alone.
There is little doubt that our eye care needs more attention; especially with technology playing such a prominent role in our social and professional lives.