Our eyes produce about 0.1 ml of tears per hour. These are small glands located in the outer part of the top of the eye, which secrete them. This secretion is made from the blood which nourishes the tear glands.

Tear fluid which is a mixture of water and oil is there to protect the eye. It is used, for example, to filter light, pollutants from the air and prevent the eyelid from hurting when the eyes blink.

A tear film that dries up

There are several explanations for this phenomenon according to ophthalmologists.

Canadian experts warned of prolonged mask wear as early as last August. According to them, the mask prevents the diffusion of exhaled air to the outside. Air travels up the mask to the surface of the eye. This is particularly noticeable on glasses when mist forms.

This heat will accelerate the evaporation of the tear and the eye is therefore less lubricated. A feeling of discomfort appears, the red eyes sting, itch. Sometimes also an increased sensitivity to light, or the sensation of grains of sand in the eyes occurs. It seems that this phenomenon of dry eye is even more important in lens wearers and people working on computers all day.

Teleworking does not help matters!

  • Prof. Paul Dighiero, ophthalmologist and dry eye specialist explains why telework is not helping matters. The humidity conditions in apartments or houses are not the same as at work. The ambient air is often less humid, especially in winter with the heating and this causes drying of the ocular surface.
  • People who work more on screens take shorter breaks and don’t blink enough. Today, many people spend more than 10 hours a day on the screen.

  • According to a study conducted by the University of Iowa in 2015, this intensive use of screens would decrease the frequency of blinking by 66%. Add to that the lack of sport, the lack of time spent outdoors (which is very good for the eyes), and all this creates a negative cocktail effect.

Our advice to avoid this drought

To reduce the risk of dry eyes associated with the mask, specialists give several tips:

  • Position and pinch the top of the mask on the nose, so that it adheres to the skin and limits the passage of air.
  • Force yourself to blink 10 times for a minute every now and then.
  • Avoid spending too much time in front of screens without moving.
  • Apply drops to hydrate the eye (preferably after talking to the ophthalmologist).
  • Consult before it gets worse because there are solutions against drought. It is not normal to have sore eyes. A good eye is not talked about.

Decreased vision

This is a consequence feared by ophthalmologists. A BBC article warns, although it may still be a bit early to tell, since there are no official figures.

A survey was conducted on 2,000 people in England, and 38% of them believe that their eyesight is declining. There are also several tips to avoid this, especially on the ASNAV website, the association for improving eyesight.

  • Position the screen straight in front of you to avoid too much eye movement or a cramped neck. Not too close to the eyes, the eye should be at the top of the screen, favoring the gaze downwards.
  • Pay attention to the light. It is important to ensure that no reflections appear on the screen. If possible, natural light from windows should always come perpendicular to the screen. Finally, never use your screen in the dark.
  • Take breaks. A break means moving away from your screen, changing activity, looking as far as possible. Look outside as much as possible to take advantage of natural light to help maintain concentration.

Think of this memo-technical means with the Anglo-Saxon rule of 3 X 20: a 20 second break every 20 minutes looking at 20 feet, or about 6 meters.