10 patients, each under the age of 30 who have quit their job because they cannot look at electronic screens anymore.

The dry eye epidemic is starting to hit hard as many eye surgeons and doctors begin to see younger and younger patients with severe dry eye disease. This week I was contacted by a 10th patient in his mid 20’s from Brazil who has quit his job due to his dry eyes. I have not examined him, but my heart goes out to him and his family in an email he sent noting his despair with the chronic eye pain he has been experiencing for many years now. A radiologist reached out to our team who noted he wants to  quit his job as the pain is so severe at work but he cannot for now.

I am leaning towards telling young patients (ie, children & teens) who have severe meibomian gland atrophy and their parents to consider avoiding jobs that have excessive screen time as a pre-requisite: Try to avoid a job in computer programming.

The issue will soon become the issue of disability. This is a very tough issue. I have many friends who are legally blind and who work. But how do you tell a 20 something patient that they can work but they have to do it without using their eyes excessively. This is a hard one to swallow.

My question remains: why are schools allowing electronic screens in elementary, middle, & high schools? When will the needed research be published to show the association between electronic screen time and dry eyes enough to take out these Trojan horses from our schools?

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