The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog

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Study: About that bad "office air"....

This one makes me think of those on DryEyeTalk who have reported ridiculously low humidity levels in their workplace and unsympathetic HR staff. It's good to have an increasing body of medical literature dedicated to how much the office environment affects even perfectly healthy eyes.

"Healthy" eye in office-like environments.
Wolkoff P.
Environ Int. 2008 May 20. [Epub ahead of print]

Eye irritation symptoms, e.g. dry eyes, are common and abundant symptoms reported in office-like environments, e.g. aircraft cabins. To improve the understanding of indoor related eye symptomatology, relevant knowledge from the ophthalmological and indoor environmental science literature has been merged. A number of environmental (relative humidity, temperature, draft), occupational (e.g. visual display unit work), and individual (e.g. gender, use of cosmetics, and medication) risk factors have been identified, which are associated with alteration of the precorneal tear film (PTF); these factors may subsequently exacerbate development of eye irritation symptoms by desiccation. Low relative humidity including reduced atmospheric pressure further increases the water evaporation from an altered PTF; in addition, work with visual display units may destabilize the PTF by lower eye blink frequency and larger ocular surface. Results from epidemiological and clinical studies support that relative humidity >40% is beneficial for the PTF. Only few pollutants reach high enough indoor concentrations to cause sensory irritation of the eyes, while an altered PTF may exacerbate their sensory effect. Sustained low relative humidity causes impairment of the PTF, while its stability, including work performance, is retained by low gaze and intermittent breaks.
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