Children as young as six are suffering from ‘midlife’ eye disease because they spend too much time in front of a screen, experts say
- Dry eye disease occurs when tears can’t provide adequate lubrication for eyes
- Normally affects 50 to 60-year-olds but children as young as six now suffering
- Sufferers have compared feeling to that experienced when chopping onions
A rise in screen time has seen children as young as six suffer from an excruciating eye condition which usually affects adults, experts have warned.
Dry eye disease occurs when tears aren’t able to provide adequate lubrication for the eyes.
It normally affects people aged 50 to 60, and if left untreated can be extremely painful with symptoms including gritty, sore, red and sensitive eyes.
Sufferers have compared the feeling to that experienced when chopping onions, with a constant sensation of burning.
Sarah Farrant, an optometrist and dry eye specialist, said she has started seeing primary-aged children turn up to her practice, Earlam and Christopher in Somerset, with the condition. She has partly blamed an increase in screen time for the phenomenon, as looking at a screen dramatically reduces blink rate.
A rise in screen time has seen children as young as six suffer from dry eye disease, which usually affects adults. (Stock image)
Sarah Farrant, an optometrist and dry eye specialist, has partly blamed an increase in screen time for the phenomenon, as looking at a screen dramatically reduces blink rate. (Stock image)
‘When I started up my clinic 15 years ago there was not a single child who turned up with the condition,’ she said. ‘But in the past five or six years I’ve been seeing more and more children with dry eye. My youngest patient was six, which used to be unheard of.’
A prevalence of younger children using make-up could also be fuelling the increase in eye issues, she added. If left untreated, the condition can cause irreversible damage to some of the tear-producing glands in the eyelids.
Dr Matthew Olsen, from Thea Pharmaceuticals, which creates products to help treat dry eye, said the disease has been shown to have a ‘huge impact’ on quality of life. ‘We need to raise awareness of the importance of looking after our eyes amongst all age groups,’ he said.