Dry eye when reading...such a burden!
Many people with dry eye find reading painful after even brief periods. If you are one of them, there are a few things you can try to make it easier on your eyes. Reading, in and of itself, shouldn’t cause any damage, but here are a few tricks that might make it easier on you.
Adjust the angle at which you read
If you are looking straight ahead when you are reading, like on a computer screen, your eyes are completely open and your eyelids are usually at their highest point. If you are reading from an iPad, Kindle, book, magazine, etc., then you’re usually looking down to some extent. Your eyelids are down so there is less open area on the surface of your eye, meaning tears evaporate more slowly. Many people find that this can make a big difference in how much pain they experience, or how quickly they start to feel eye strain. Taking visual breaks is also a great way to avoid dry eyes--look away from your work every once in awhile!
Avoid blue light
Many electronic screens are backlit with blue light, which is hard on the eyes. That’s the case with computer screens, iPads, and smartphones. If your device allows you to dim the light off of the full brightness setting, try that. There are also programs you can download to do that for you such as f.lux. Kindle is an electronic device that is not backlit and doesn’t use blue light, so it can be easier on your eyes.
Adjust the size of print
Many books, magazines, and newspapers offer large-print editions for people with sight issues. If you read any of these, check with the publisher to see if they offer a version with larger print. Also, if you use the library, they may have larger-print editions or know of a resource that provides that service. For electronic devices, see if you can increase the font size for that device. Usually, you will find it in settings when you are on the internet, or in the options menu in individual programs.
There are programs you can add to your computer that come on and remind you to blink if you find that’s a problem. Like I said earlier, taking breaks and blinking frequently can really help!
Finally, consider audiobooks on tape or in digital formats. Libraries usually have an assortment of them, but you may also have a charitable organization serving the area you live that allows you to go online and order digital audio books. That option saves your eyes; you can even close your eyes while you listen to a good book!
Do you have any other tips and tricks that work for you? If so, let us know in the comments section or send us an email.
Dr. Travis Zigler
Other Dry Eye articles by Dr. Zigler: 4 Tips to Stop Waking Up With Dry, Painful Eyes; Which Antidepressants Cause Dry Eye; Fish Oil for Fighting Dry Eye Inflammation; and What Not To Eat If You Have Dry Eye