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A local ophthalmologist says dry eye syndrome — a group of eye disorders affecting the tears critical to keeping your eyes lubricated — affects more women than men and is especially prevalent among office workers.

He said one of the reasons office workers are so often affected is because many of them work on computers all day and are therefore staring more and blinking less than they should.

Said Dr. David Hardten of Minnesota Eye Consultants, 710 E. 24th St., “If we stare and don’t tend to blink very well, then the tears don’t get spread over the eyes properly and therefore you get little dry spots on the eye and then those expose nerves and become irritated and also cause blurring of vision because the tear film is uneven then over the front surface of the eye.”

Dry eye, Hardten said, is “basically where the eye is irritated and feels uncomfortable. Usually burning, scratching, irritation; sometimes even just a tired feeling the patient notices.”

He said another symptom of dry eye is light-sensitivity.

Hardten said women tend to have more issues with dry eye and that researchers believe “it’s a hormonal issue, partly because as women lose some of their hormones as they age — usually over 40 to 50 years of age — that’s when they start to have even more trouble with dryness of their eyes.”

Hardten said dry eye syndrome can be treated with over-the-counter eyedrops.

“Dryness of the eyes is a pretty common problem and a pretty common reason for patients to come in and see one of us as an eyecare doctor. And probably there’s many more people who have dryness of the eyes who don’t recognize it or see an eyecare professional about it.”

He said people can often help ease dry eye problems by lowering their computer screens, avoiding work areas with moving air (heating/cooling vents and fans) and regular rinsing of the eyelids with plain water.

Other tips for self-treatment can be found at www.healthywomen.org, a website run by the non-profit National Women’s Health Resource Center (NWHRC).

The group recently released its Dry Eye Hot Jobs Listing, a listing of jobs where the danger of dry eye is above average.

1. Office jobs such as an executive assistant, customer service representative, accountant, software engineer or IT consultant

2. Construction/Manufacturing jobs such as construction workers, contractors, welders or factory workers

3. Healthcare/Medical jobs such as registered nurses, medical assistants or lab technicians

4. Educational jobs such as professors, researchers or librarians

5. Retail/Sales jobs such as retail workers or salespeople

6. Public Service/Social Service jobs such as social workers, firefighters or police officers

7. Transportation/Delivery jobs such as delivery drivers or truck drivers

8. Agriculture/Landscaping jobs such as farmers, fishermen or landscapers

9. Janitorial/Maintenance jobs such as housekeepers or building maintenance workers

10. Food service jobs such as cooks and servers