Dry Eye Disease Becoming More Common in Children

dry eye disease

Research highlights an increase in the number of children suffering from dry eye disease, a condition which is found most commonly in older people.

Smartphone and tablet use is thought to be to blame for the rise, according to the researchers from Aston University in Birmingham.

Evaporating tears

Dry eye disease (or dry eye syndrome) happens when the eyes don’t produce enough tears, or when tears evaporate too quickly from the surface of the eye. 

This causes the eyes to dry out and become red, swollen and irritated. People with the condition may feel as if they constantly have something in their eye, and their eyelids may stick together when they wake up. Other symptoms include blurred vision and sore eyes.

Blink less frequently

The chances of having dry eye disease increases with age. Approximately one in every five people suffers from dry eye disease; rising to one in three people in those aged over 65. 

There are thought to be many different causes of dry eye disease, including hormonal changes, a hot and windy climate, taking certain medications, and wearing contact lenses.

It is also thought that certain activities may cause the condition, such as those activities that mean people are concentrating on something they are looking at. This could include reading, writing or using a computer, smartphone or tablet. 

People blink less frequently when they are staring at a screen, which means tears evaporate more quickly.

Prolonged screen use

Research from the University of Aston in Birmingham has found that there is now an increasing number of children and young people suffering from dry eye disease.

One of the researchers, Professor James Wolffsohn, said: “Dry eye is traditionally considered an old person’s disease, but we are increasingly seeing it surface in children. This is likely because of prolonged screen use.

“We need to do more to understand the health implications of children glued to smartphones, tablets and game consoles for hours at a time.”

Prevention techniques

Symptoms of dry eye disease can be relieved using eye drops or medication. In extreme cases, surgery can be carried out to prevent tears from draining away too easily. However, there is no cure for the disease and people can have repeated bouts throughout their lives.

It is important to reduce the amount of screen time and take regular breaks, ideally every hour, especially for children.


This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Health Care unless explicitly stated.

Additional comments on the page from individual Consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Consultants or Ramsay Health Care.

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