Dry eye symptoms in offices and deteriorated work performance – A perspective

Tidsskriftartikel - 2020


Irritated, stinging, tired, and dry eyes continue to be among top-two reported acute symptoms in modern office-like environments, despite use of new ventilation strategies and low-emitting building materials. In this perspective, we disentangle why the prevalence of external eye symptoms has remained stable without a noticeable decline over the last decades. Furthermore, we explore the association between dry eye symptoms, perceived dry air and deteriorated office work performance. The overall prevalence of external (as opposed to internal) eye symptoms is caused by a combination of many environmental (climatic), occupational, and personal risk factors, which alter the stability of the precorneal tear film, essential for ocular surface health and ocular comfort. The composition and structure of the outer lipid layer of the precorneal tear film is critical for a healthy stable ocular surface. Identified major risk factors are apart from age and gender, eye diseases (gland dysfunctions), particle (combustion) exposure, environmental (e.g. climatic condition), occupational (visual demanding work) and personal (e.g. use of medication) conditions that aggravate the precorneal tear film stability, which increases its vulnerability to aggressive air pollutants. It is, however, salient to recognize that (mild) eye diseases (generally non-diagnosed) contribute and may further overlap with both external and internal eye causalities. Thus, maintenance of a healthy and stable ocular surface is essential for relief of dry eye symptoms. Studies indicate that perceived indoor dry air, a top-two indoor air quality complaint, in part induced by low indoor air humidity, negatively affects the office work performance. Visual complaints like dry eyes are generally associated with eye fatigue as office workers, that feel eye fatigue during typical intensive vision work, self-report lower work performance to be associated with dry eye symptoms; this may further exacerbate the symptoms and the performance among office workers with eye diseases and elderly female workers.


Wolkoff P. Dry eye symptoms in offices and deteriorated work performance – A perspective. Building and Environment 2020;172:106704.
doi: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2020.106704

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