Part of the screening process for dry eye disease involves questions about your occupation, because some jobs increase your risk of dry eyes. Professions that require long hours in front of a computer screen often cause dry eye disease, but other high-risk occupations include building workers, cooks, fishermen, firefighters, drivers, and gardeners.
Our experienced ophthalmologists at Laser Eye Center™ can determine the cause of your dry eyes and develop an effective dry eye treatment plan to improve your quality of life. We are SoCal’s premier eye clinic with a 30-year history and over 500,000 successful procedures. Our team has cultivated lasting relationships with our community, and patients and other eye doctors refer their loved ones to our services.
How Your Occupation Plays a Role in Dry Eye
Your occupation says a lot about you and your habits, including your education level, lifestyle preferences, occupational hazards, socioeconomic status, and the probability of eye diseases, including dry eye. How and where you spend your waking hours plays a big part in determining what’s going on with your tear film and tear quantity.
Questions about your occupation, hobbies, and dry eye history help reveal areas where lifestyle changes may improve your symptoms. Someone who spends a lot of time in an operating room with intensive tasks will need different treatment than a firefighter exposed to smoke and soot regularly. Each work environment impacts the eyes in different ways. Dry hotel rooms, heat in kitchens, hours on the computer, cleaning agents, and other occupational details are essential to figuring out what’s causing or worsening your dry eyes.
Screening for dry eye symptoms in high-risk occupations helps our eye doctors identify a crucial piece of the puzzle. Environmental modifications such as switching to wraparound sunglasses or protective eyewear (metal workers) and regular screen breaks (computer work) can improve dry eye symptoms.
Research on Dry Eyes and Occupation
European researchers performed a cross-sectional study to find the link between occupations and dry eyes. They studied the records of 40,501 employees in the Netherlands who work at least 8 hours a week to find an association between dry eye symptoms and specific jobs.
The study found these links between dry eye and the patient’s occupation:
- Professionals and clerical support, such as legal, health, and business jobs, had the highest risk of dry eye disease out of the 10 major occupation groups.
- People working in agriculture and elementary occupations had the lowest risk of dry eyes.
- When researchers did additional investigations, they found the highest likelihood of dry eyes was among craft and trade employees, including building, metal, and machinery workers.
- Outdoor and active occupations had the lowest risk of dry eye.
People working in these high-risk occupations should be screened for dry eye disease to improve their eye health and increase work productivity.
Another study of dry eye patients seeking care at an ophthalmology hospital in India evaluated the records of 1,458,830 patients between 2010 and 2018 with newly diagnosed dry eyes. The analyzed data revealed age, gender, residence, socioeconomic status, and occupation significantly affect who develops dry eye disease, with professional work being one of the primary risk factors.
Other research found that solvents in dry cleaning businesses can impact eye health, tear film, and the ocular surface, causing evaporative dry eye.
Occupations Prone to Dry Eyes
Unsurprisingly, long hours in front of a computer and building work with flying debris in the air have the highest risk for dry eye disease. However, dry eyes are not wholly caused by your working environment; Your occupation only worsens the symptoms or increases your likelihood of developing dry eyes. In addition to professional office work with excessive screen use and computer vision syndrome, the following professionals may struggle with dry eyes.
Drivers or Long-Haul Truckers
Driving is a hyper-focused task that may reduce your blink rate by 70%. Less blinking combined with blowing air or heat from vehicle vents can exacerbate dry eye disease or cause dry eye symptoms. Tear evaporation is a common problem for truck drivers linked to vents, open windows, and driving conditions that increase concentration while decreasing blink rates.
People spending most of their time in a kitchen may experience worsening dry eye symptoms or eye irritation due to hot, dry air from the oven, steam off the stove, or smoke from the grill. Heat and open flames affect the tear film and cause tear evaporation, and cleaning products used in the kitchen may also cause eye problems.
Gardeners and Field Workers
Dry eye symptoms often peak in spring when gardeners and field workers work outdoors. The dust in the air around the garden or field may cause gritty sensations and dry eye symptoms. Dry eyes and ocular allergies have overlapping symptoms, and eye allergies may also be an issue for this occupation group.
Fishermen often have dry eyes caused by high winds on the water and dry air. Frequent exposure to sea breeze and sunlight can irritate and dry the eye’s surface. Being around salt water can dry the cornea and increase tear evaporation, causing stinging, burning, and other symptoms.
Firefighters and Police Officers
These occupations regularly put police and firefighters in dangerous environments, some of which increase the risk of dry eye disease or dry eye syndrome. Firefighters often have smoke-induced symptoms, and police officers may struggle with dry eyes from direct sun exposure and air pollutants. Firefighters and police officers should have regular eye exams to screen for dry eyes and use personal protective equipment to avoid dry eyes or relief symptoms.
Schedule a Dry Eye Screening at Laser Eye Center™
Our dry eye specialists offer the latest treatments with advanced technologies and equipment to improve your eye health. If you struggle with dry eye symptoms, schedule a comprehensive eye exam at Laser Eye Center™ in Los Angeles County, Santa Clarita Valley, and Inland Empire. Contact our Southern California offices at (800) 649-2659.
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