Eyes feeling dry or irritated?

How your pharmacy can get involved in tackling a syndrome that could be affecting millions.*

Broken iPhone representing evaporative dry eye

As a result of increased screen use, we are now seeing larger numbers of younger patients with dry eye.

Shelly Bansal, FBDO (Hons) CL FBCLA. Dispensing Optician.

From smart devices and laptops to games consoles and television, screens are everywhere and your average customer is now spending up to 8 hours per day using them[1]
. As a result, customers may be experiencing feelings of dryness and irritation in their eyes without necessarily realising that these symptoms can be caused by prolonged use of these screens[2],[3]

Optrex refers to this as screen-dry eye† and is supporting community pharmacy to engage with this issue for National Eye Health Week.

What causes screen-dry eye?

When we look at screens, the eye’s blink rate can drop by as much as 60 per cent[4]
. This reduction means the tear film is replenished much less often and can result in a disruption to the lipid layer of the tear film[3],[5]
. This is thought to increase moisture evaporation[6]
from the eye’s surface and lead to eyes feeling dry, irritated and sore[3]

How does this impact pharmacy?

Dry eye can affect up to one in 10 people[7]
* and is traditionally associated with older patients[3]
 but screen-dry eye could change the sufferer profile you may expect to see in your pharmacy. For example, a study of children in the U.S. revealed that 80 per cent reported eye fatigue and dryness after prolonged use of electronic devices[8]

How is Optrex supporting engagement in this issue for National Eye Health Week?

Optrex is an official partner for National Eye Health Week which commences on 18th September and runs until the 24th.

In early September, your pharmacy can expect to receive a free support pack designed to help train all members of the team and give advice on how you can proactively engage with customers and your local community.

What will you recieve in your pharmacy support pack?


A pharmacy assistant training guide will explain what causes screen-dry eye, what the symptoms are, and how it can be treated effectively. For pharmacists and technicians, there will also be a training guide plus and online learning hub in partnership with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS). Two dedicated webinars are also running the first week of September.

Resources to raise awareness and engage your community

For raising awareness of screen-dry eye† and effectively recommending OTC eye health remedies, pharmacies role is vital. I’d encourage all pharmacies to get involved in National Eye Health Week.

David Cartwright, Chair of the charity Eye Health UK

You’ll be able to use a screen-dry eye window poster plus an advisor badge to encourage potential patients to come and ask for advice. An advice sheet will also help show you how to make the most of awareness weeks by following our ready, set, go plan of action. Visiting www.rbforhealth.co.uk/screens will also give you access to patient information materials and animations.

For links to the RPS training hub, access to digital resources and patient materials, visit www.rbforhealth.co.uk/screens

Make your pharmacy a repair‡ centre for screen-dry eye†.


*Based on 2014 study of 3,824 women aged 20 - 87 in UK: Around 1 in 10 women has dry eye disease7

†Due to disruption of the lipid layer of the tear film.

‡Dry and irritated eyes due to disruption of the lipid layer of the tear film, approx. 80% of dry eye cases. 

[1] Ofcom. Communications market report 2016. Accessed July 17. www.ofcom. org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/26273/uk_context.pdf 

[2] NICE CKS- dry eye syndrome. Accessed July 17. cks.nice.org.uk/dry-eye-syndrome 

[3] UK Vision Strategy, RNIB, and the Royal College of General Practitioners. Management of Dry Eyes in primary care. 2016. Accessed July 17. www.rnib.org.uk/sites/default/files/Dry%20eyes.pdf 

[4] Blehm C et al. Computer Vision Syndrome: A review. Surv Ophthalmol. 2005 May-Jun;50(3):253-62. Accessed July 2017. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/158508142005 

[5] Dausch D et al. Klin Monatsbl Augenheikd 2006;223:974-983. Accessed July 17. www.tearsagain.cz/studie/Study3_Comparative.pdf 

[6] McCully J et al. Impact of evaporation on aqueous tear loss. Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc 2006; 104: 121-128  

[7] Vehof J et al. Prevalence and risk factors of dry eye disease in a British female cohort. British Journal of Ophthalmology 2014;(12) 98:1712-1717. Accessed July 17. http://bjo.bmj.com/content/98/12/1712 

[8] Contact Lens Spectrum, Volume: 31, Issue: Continuing Education: Keeping Up with Ocular Fatigue in the Digital Era June 2016, page(s): 3-10. Accessed July 2017. www.clspectrum.com/supplements/2016/june-2016/continuing-education-keeping-up-with-ocular-fatig/continuing-education-keeping-up-withocular-fatig


Zinc code: UK/O/0617/0021p

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Eyes feeling dry or irritated?;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203301

You may also be interested in