To prevent short-term effects of digital display use on dry eyes, the instillation of artificial tears and blink control were the best management strategies, according to the results of a study published in Eye & Contact Lens.
Researchers conducted a study to assess and compare the effectiveness of 4 management strategies for preventing short-term effects of digital display use on dry eye signs and symptoms. They first assessed the ocular surface, tear film, and visual fatigue of 47 healthy individuals before and after reading on a laptop computer for 20 minutes under 5 different conditions. The conditions included control, instillation of artificial tears, taking a brief break, using a blue light screen filter, and blink control. In each condition, Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) Questionnaire, 5-item Dry Eye Questionnaire (DEQ-5), tear meniscus height (TMH) noninvasive ketatograph break-up time (NIKBUT), bulbar conjunctival redness, and pupil size were measured.
The study found that, in all variables, worse results were obtained after the control and blue light filter conditions (P ≤.037). Post-task DEQ-5 score (P =.013) and TMH (P <.0005) were higher when taking a brief break compared with pretask. However, compared with that observed in the nonmangement control condition (P ≤.036), the increase in symptoms was significantly smaller.
The increase in OSDI and DEQ-5 scores was smaller with the use of artificial tears and blink control in comparison with the control condition (P ≤.008), whereas DEQ-5 increased and NIKBUT decreased in the blue light filter condition compared with the instillation of artificial tears (P =.017) or blink control (P =.008). Finally, for all conditions, a significantly lower post-task pupil size was obtained (P ≤.027).
The researchers explain that, though not all treatment conditions from the study were shown to have a statistically significant level of effectiveness, an important revelation was that digital display use was positively correlated with dry eye signs.
“The results of this study revealed both a statistically and clinically significant increase in dry eye symptoms after reading on the computer for 20 minutes,” the researchers report. “In this study, the instillation of artificial tears was capable of completely preventing an increase in dry eye symptoms with short-term computer use. This strategy additionally revealed a significantly lesser worsening of symptoms compared with performing the reading task with no management strategy or using a blue light filter.”
The study’s limitations include possible a placebo effect, as well as possible confounding due to the 20-minute length of reading task chosen.
Talens-Estarelles C, García-Marqués JV, Cerviño A, García-Lázaro S. Determining the best management strategy for preventing short-term effects of digital display use on dry eyes. Eye Contact Lens. 2022;48(10):416-423. doi:10.1097/ICL.0000000000000921