Dr. Robert Latkany is an ophthalmologist from New York City who is the only doctor devoting his entire medical practice to the study and treatment of dry eye symptoms. His 2007 book, The Dry Eye Remedy, is available through Hatherleigh Press and elsewhere.
Sharon: Could you talk for a minute about dry eye as an occupational health risk?
Robert: Sure. The primary concern among eye doctors is about workers who spend all day at the computer. They tend to stare at the screen and not blink nearly enough. Insufficient blinking can be a major factor causing dry eye. If you don’t blink enough, your “blink muscles” weaken, which makes your eyes even more dry.
S: In my research, I’ve found that many environmental factors that can dry out the tear film. The indoor environment, whether at home or in the office, is especially challenging. Forced air heating and cooling and all sorts of household chemicals can dry the eyes. I’ve always recommended setting out bowls of water in the house or office, or keeping a window opened, although outside air can also be dry and polluted.
R: Or purchase a humidifier – and an air purifier.
S: Do you find that people too often take their eyes for granted?
R: Definitely. Not enough people realize that care and prevention are far better than having to fix the damage later on. The bottom line is that dry eye is here to stay and gets worse with age.