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Squinting Computer Users Run Risk of Dry Eyes

The condition can lead to burning, aching sensations, researchers report

SATURDAY, Dec. 10, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- If you squint your eyes too much while looking at your computer screen, you could end up with a painful condition called dry eye, Ohio State University researchers warn.

Their study of 10 college students found that just a slight amount of squinting at the computer screen reduced blink rates by a half -- from 15 blinks a minute to 7.5 blinks a minute. The more the students squinted, the less they blinked. The less the students blinked, the more their eyes ached or burned, and the more they reported sensations of dryness, irritation and tearing in their eyes.

"People tend to squint when they read a book or a computer display, and that squinting makes the blink rate go way down," study lead author James Sheedy, a professor of optometry, said in a prepared statement.

"Blinking rewets the eyes. So if your job requires a lot of reading or other visually intense work, you may be blinking far less than normal, which may cause eye strain and dry eye," Sheedy said.

While it can be painful and irritating, dry eye is rarely a debilitating condition. It's usually treatable with over-the-counter eye drops, the researchers said.

The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Optometry and Vision Science.

More information

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has more about dry eye.

SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, Nov. 28, 2005
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