How Dry Eye Can Affect Children

Dry Eyes In Children

How Dry Eye Can Affect Children

Have you noticed that your child has red, itchy, or watery eyes, and is frequently rubbing them? If so, your child could be suffering from Dry Eyes. While dry eyes are considered rare in children, it is often overlooked, and the condition may be underdiagnosed. In fact, the instance of dry eyes in children is growing, as daily screen time continues to increase.

Similar to adults, dry eyes can be uncomfortable and painful for children, and can greatly impact their life quality and performance in daily activities. Often, dry eyes can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, and so it is important to seek appropriate medical advice. For more information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment for dry eyes in children, continue reading.

Dry Eye Causes

There are many different causes for dry eye, which can include environmental factors such as dry weather, and exposure to smoke or other pollutants. Allergies could also be irritating the eyes, causing tear film instability and inflammation on the ocular surface. This could lead to damage and neurosensory abnormalities, causing increased sensitivity in the eyes. Another contributing factor could be poor diet, as Vitamin A deficiency has been shown to cause changes in the cells lining the ocular surface, preventing the eyes from properly producing tears.

However, it is increasingly likely that a child’s eyes are dry due to prolonged screen exposure. Children are using screens more frequently: using the computer or a tablet for their schoolwork, scrolling through social media on their phone, playing video games or watching television in their free time, even reading on an electronic device rather than from a book! The longer a child uses a smart phone, the lower their blink rate will be, which can increase the ocular surface’s exposure to air. This can cause instability of the tear layer and thus, dry eye. Excess screen time can also contribute to other eye conditions such as eye fatigue and should be limited when possible.


It can be difficult to diagnose eye conditions in children as they may not have the vocabulary to properly describe what they are feeling. Children may describe their dry eyes as feeling hot, or as if they have sand or dirt in their eyes. Dry eyes could also cause itchy, stinging, or burning eyes, eye redness, or excessive tearing. Children with dry eyes may frequently rub their eyes to alleviate discomfort. Dry eyes could also cause blurry vision, though it will not often cause lasting effects when it comes to vision clarity. If you notice that your child is suffering from any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your optometrist.

Dry eyes could also be a symptom of a more serious underlying medical condition. If you notice that your child is suffering from the symptoms of dry eye, it is important to consult with an optometrist for a proper examination and diagnosis.

Remedies & Treatments

In order to properly treat dry eyes, it is important to first understand the cause. However, there are some remedies that may help alleviate your child’s discomfort as they await their examination.

Outdoor activities have been shown to be beneficial in preventing dry eyes in children. If possible, have your child participate in outdoor play, sports, or other activities. Avoid exposure to smoke or other eye irritants and use a humidifier in the child’s room or near their workspace during school hours. Placing a warm compress on the child’s eyes for 5 minutes per day can also help to stimulate their tear production.

It is also important to have children take frequent breaks while reading, watching TV, or using the computer or other electronic devices, in order to allow the eyes to rest. In some cases, you may need to use artificial tears while the child is undertaking these activities to keep the eyes properly lubricated.

If you notice that symptoms persist, or worsen, you may need to take more serious steps to alleviate your child’s dry eyes. Visit your optometrist for a diagnosis and proper treatment. They will be able to recommend prescription medications, or other treatment options such as surgery, that will help with more severe cases of dry eyes.

If your child is suffering from occasional dry eyes, it may not be an issue that affects their life. However, dry eyes can be a serious detriment to a child’s comfort and quality of life, and as it can indicate an underlying medical condition, it is important to always consult an optometrist to ensure your child is receiving proper treatment and care. Be aware of your child’s behaviour so that you can detect symptoms of dry eyes and seek treatment when necessary.

If you believe that your child may be suffering from dry eyes, contact the optometry team at Dr D’Orio Eyecare. Our dry eye specialists will be able to examine, diagnose, and treat your child’s dry eyes, as well as identify any other eye conditions. To book an appointment at Dr D’Orio Eyecare, visit or call us at 416 656 2020 for our Toronto location, or 416 661 5555 for our North York location.

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