I love working with my patients that suffer from dry eye and ocular surface disease. One of the most common questions I get is “is there anything else I can do to improve my symptoms”. Now this is usually in regards to diet, exercise, or any other natural remedies for their symptoms. Coincidentally, I was reading the Journal The Ocular Surface and came across the article “The relationship between sedentary behavior and dry eye disease”! Let me share some of the findings.

Sedentary Lifestyle = Dry Eye?

First, the authors outlined the effects that sedentary behavior has on our health. It has been associated with heart disease, and diabetes. And, it is thought to cause chronic low grade inflammation that affects the entire body. Dry eye disease also has a tell-tale sign of inflammation. This can disrupt the production of a healthy tear film and subsequent damage to the ocular surface. It makes sense then that a sedentary lifestyle could definitely have an effect on your eyes and their health.

The Study

There were over 48,000 participants in this study which was conducted in the Netherlands. Dry eye was assessed based on a questionnaire and sedentary behavior was defined as the total sitting time in a day. Females were about twice as likely to have dry eye than men. The average sitting time in a day was 9.2 hours for men and 8.8 hours for women and the main activities resulting in sedentary behavior was watching television and working from home.

Key Takeaways

The study found that for each hour of sitting the odds of you having dry eyes increased by 1.5%. However, anyone who met the WHO’s physical activity recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week was significantly less. Lastly, when you took out computer use there was not a significant relationship between sedentary behavior and dry eye disease.

Physical activity, Computer Use, and Patient Advice

When I read this study, the 3 most important takeaways I have and will use when communicating with my patients are the following: 1. Chronic low grade inflammation is bad for not only your eyes, but the rest of your body. We have to take steps to control this inflammation.
2. Physical activity (such as walking 150 minutes per week) can improve overall health. From heart disease and diabetes to dry eye disease, a simple act such as walking can have huge positive effects on your health.
3. Screen time and computer use are a huge risk factor to poor eye health and dry eye disease.

Next Steps

Although, none of this is a huge surprise or groundbreaking in revelation, it does illustrate the small changes patients can make to help their dry eye disease. If you have questions or want more specific customized advice, give our office a call or schedule an appointment here. We can develop a customized treatment plan and go over little changes that can make a big difference in your eye health and controlling your dry eye disease.

Nguyen, L. Schjerven Magno, M. Utheim, T.P. Hammond, C.J.Vehof, J. (2023) “The relationship between sedentary behavior and dry eye disease.” The Ocular Surface, 28. 11-17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtos.2023.01.002