Dry eye syndrome, also called dry eye disease, is a common eye condition that occurs when the eyes don’t produce enough tears or when the tears evaporate too quickly. This results in the eyes becoming red and feeling dry, irritated and gritty. It can also cause blurry vision.
A recent study published by Cureus in 2022 found that children who spent considerable time on digital devices during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic complained of more dry eye symptoms than children who did not.
What Causes Dry Eye in Children?
Traditionally, the common causes of dry eye in children have been medications like decongestants, antihistamines, and antidepressants. Medical conditions like thyroid problems and diabetes as well as allergies and environmental factors like dry air can also cause dry eye syndrome.
Screen time has become another leading cause of dry eye syndrome. The Cureus study found that 78.1% of children who spent 2-3 hours a day on digital devices reported dry eye symptoms. The number increased to 81.8% for children who had 4 or more hours of screen time per day.
The older the child, the worse the dry eye symptoms.
Symptoms of Dry Eye in Children
Dry eye symptoms in children include redness, burning, itching, a gritty or sandy feeling in the eyes, and blurry vision. In severe cases, scarring of the cornea can lead to permanent vision loss.
How To Treat Dry Eye in Children
As with adult dry eye disease, dry eye treatments vary based on the root cause and severity of their symptoms. Sometimes, a simple solution like ensuring the child gets enough breaks from screen time, blinks more often, is well hydrated and uses a humidifier in the home can help.
Lubricating eye drops and artificial tears provide only temporary relief from the discomfort caused by dry eye, but don’t address the underlying problem.
To achieve long-lasting relief, your child should be evaluated by an eye doctor who deals with dry eye syndrome and its root causes. Once the eye doctor determines the cause, they can provide a treatment plan to increase the quality and quantity of your child’s tears. This sometimes includes lifestyle changes like spending less time on digital devices.
Book A Dry Eye Exam with Accent on Eyes in Glassboro
Due to increased screen time, dry eye is becoming more common in children, but parents can often take the necessary precautions to minimize it.
If your child is experiencing any dry eye symptoms, don’t fret! It’s a manageable condition that your Accent on Eyes eye doctor can treat so your child enjoys much-needed relief and healthy vision.