Apparently everyone who regularly uses an iPad or stares at a Smartphone screen blinks less than they do in normal life. This is the findings of Christine Purslow, director of the contact lenses and anterior eye research unit at Cardiff University.
Normally our eyes blink between twelve and fifteen times a minute but when we are concentrating on a screen our minds can ‘forget’ to blink. When we are using an iPad or working on a laptop or looking at a Smartphone screen, our eyes only blink around seven to eight times a minute.
Why Blinking is Good
Every time we blink, and I’m one of those people who blink almost constantly, we deposit a thin film of tear liquid across our eyes. This film protects the eyes from dust and dirt and scratches.
Blinking less means that our eyes do not get as much tear film covering as they need. This means that eyes dry out faster and dry eyes mean itchy eyes, mean red eyes.
As a rule, dry eyes only usually start to affect people from the age of fifty onwards. Even then only around 30% of the over-fifties develop dry eyes. Purslow told the Daily Mail Newspaper that “younger people are experiencing problems because of the modern office, with computers and air conditioning making it worse, as well as home use of display screens.”
Contact Lens Wearers Need to Take Most Care of Their Eyes
But that’s not all. Apparently, according to the research they’ve done in Wales, people who wear soft contact lenses are the most at risk from developing dry eyes due to using modern technology.
The dry eyes can be cured by using tear substitutes and rewetting drops to stabilise the tear film, but prevention is as always better than a cure. So if you are a soft contact lens wearer, try to limit the amount of time you spend looking at a screen. And try to follow the 20: 20: 20 rule.
Ensure you look away from your screen at least once every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away from you for at least 20 seconds. This should get your eyes blinking normally again.
If you do find yourself starting to suffer from red, itchy, dry eyes, go to see your optician – and leave the Smartphone in your pocket!