Article Reviewed By: Dr. Shradha Goel

Table of Contents

Understanding Dry Eye Syndrome in Children:

Causes of DES in Children:

Treatment and Management:

Final thoughts

Have you observed your child blinking frequently during reading or often rubbing their eyes while watching TV or using a computer?

As parents, we might brush it off, thinking they’re just tired or they’ve had too much screen time. It’s an easy guess. But what if there’s more to it?

It could be the dry eye syndrome. Though this situation is often related to just adults, children aren’t spared from this condition. Given our changing environment and lifestyles, children nowadays face dry eye syndrome. In children, this can be caused by various factors such as excessive screen time, exposure to air conditioning, and lack of outdoor activities. Additionally, using contact lenses at a young age can also contribute to the development of dry eyes in children. 

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    Now, let’s understand dry eye syndrome and its causes, symptoms, and available treatments.

    Understanding Dry Eye Syndrome in Children:

    Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is commonly associated with adults, particularly those advancing in age. But what many don’t realize is that children are not immune to this eye ailment. Just like in adults, DES in children arises when the eyes cannot produce enough tears or when the reduced quality of the tears fails to maintain proper eye lubrication.

    For children, the implications of DES can be particularly challenging. Their active lifestyles in school and during play require clear vision and comfortable eyes. When dry eyes persist, it might affect their academic performance, social interactions, and overall quality of life.

    Furthermore, diagnosing DES in children might be more intricate, as they might only sometimes effectively communicate or even recognize the discomfort they’re experiencing. As such, awareness and early detection are crucial to ensure proper care and management, and for that, you can always consult with an ophthalmologist in Mumbai.

    Symptoms to watch out:

    Recognizing the symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) in children is essential for early diagnosis and intervention. Here are some common signs to be aware of:

    1. Redness: The whites of the eyes may be more crimson than normal. This is due to irritation or inflammation.
    2. Burning or Stinging Sensation: Children may complain about a burning feeling or that something feels “sticking” in their eyes.
    3. Blurred Vision: Dry eye can lead to inconsistent tear film on the eye’s surface, leading to moments of blurred vision.
    4. Sensitivity to Light: Children with DES might find bright lights uncomfortable or painful, a symptom known as photophobia.
    5. Watery Eyes: Ironically, one of the body’s responses to dry eyes can be excessive tearing, leading to watery eyes. This is because, although the eyes may generate extra tears to compensate, these tears often evaporate quickly.
    6. Difficulty in Keeping Eyes Open: Children might find difficulties in keeping their eyes open, particularly in difficult circumstances such as windy regions or places with air conditioning.
    7. Eye Fatigue: Children’s eyes may get fatigued after a short time of reading, watching TV, or using a computer.
    8. Discomfort Wearing Contact Lenses: Older children who wear contacts might find them increasingly uncomfortable or challenging to wear for extended periods.
    9. Itchy Eyes: Children might frequently rub their eyes due to itchiness.
    10. Surgery: Post-surgical effects, like Dry Eye Syndrome (DES), can sometimes emerge after routine eye surgeries. These surgeries may lead the eye to produce insufficient tears or ones that evaporate rapidly. Monitoring and addressing post-operative dry eye symptoms is essential, irrespective of the patient’s age. If you’re considering eye treatment for your child, consider having a pediatric ophthalmologist in Mumbai, as it offers exceptional care, advanced treatments, and comprehensive aftercare.

    If a child displays any combination of these symptoms, consulting with an ophthalmologist is crucial. Early diagnosis can prevent complications and ensure the child receives appropriate care and treatment.

    Causes of DES in Children:

    While DES in adults can be attributed to factors like aging or environmental conditions, the causes in children might differ.

    • Digital Screen Usage: Children nowadays spend a significant amount of time on computer devices, whether for study or amusement. Excessive screen time may cause a decrease in blink rate, which can cause dry eyes.
    • Environmental Factors: Dry eye symptoms may be exacerbated in dry or dusty settings and areas with high pollen concentrations. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to air conditioning or heaters may diminish humidity in the air, resulting in drier eyes.
    • Medications: Some medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and ADHD therapies, might suppress tear production, resulting in DES.
    • Underlying Medical Conditions: Some children facing dry eye might have medical conditions that affect tear production. Sjögren’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even vitamin A insufficiency may all be related to DES.

    Treatment and Management:

    Kids with DES can feel better with the right treatment. Here’s how:

    1. Eye Drops: Special eye drops, often known as artificial tears, are available at the shop. They aid in keeping the eyes moist.
    2. Limit Screen Time: Short breaks are recommended for children who spend extended periods gazing at devices like tablets or televisions. The 20-20-20 rule is a simple trick: every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds staring at something far away, such as a tree outdoors.
    3. Warm Compress: Putting a warm, moist towel over closed eyes might make them feel better and encourage the eyes to produce more tears.
    4. Humidifier: The air inside our houses might sometimes be dry. A humidifier provides moisture to the air, which may aid in the relief of dry eyes.
    5. Consultation: If a child’s eyes remain dry or painful, they should see an eye doctor. They may provide specialized medications or offer alternative therapies. Consider seeing ophthalmologists in Mumbai for better treatment and care.

    Bottom line

    Children, just like adults, can suffer from conditions like Dry Eye Syndrome. While it might be tempting to dismiss initial symptoms as minor irritants, understanding and addressing DES can make a significant difference in your child’s comfort and eye health. Always be observant, prioritize regular eye check-ups, and ensure your child follows healthy screen habits. 

    If you’re seeking a reputable eye hospital, Arohi Eye Hospital is an excellent choice. We pride ourselves on having top professionals and state-of-the-art technology for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Patient comfort and care are our utmost priorities. Schedule an appointment with us today.