Do Teenagers Get Dry Eyes?

November 1, 2022
Do Teenagers Get Dry Eyes?

Yes, teenagers absolutely can get dry eyes. There can be many reasons that teens suffer from dry eyes. Some teenagers have dry eye syndrome (DES) that prevents the tears from developing properly. When a person has DES, either they do not produce enough tears or the tears they do produce are of poor quality. If a teenager has DES, they will need advanced dry eye treatment to relieve their symptoms. But dry eye symptoms without a DES diagnosis are also very common and should not be ignored. Not only are dry eyes uncomfortable and sometimes very painful, but they also have the potential to damage the cornea if left untreated. Here are some reasons other than a DES diagnosis as to why teenagers may experience dry eyes.

Common Causes Of Dry Eyes In Teenagers

Screen Usage
When people look at screens, their rate of blinking significantly decreases. Using digital devices can slow a person’s blinking by nearly two-thirds, which contributes to increased tear evaporation and dry eyes. There are also more uncompleted blinks when staring at a screen. When we blink less or do not complete our blinks, it reduces the eye’s ability to adequately lubricate and it can cause dry, irritated eyes. Because more and more children are growing up surrounded by technology both in their personal lives and at school, dry eye rates are increasing. Teens and pre-teens tend to have particularly high screen use, contributing to higher dry eye rates among teens.

Albertan teenagers are likely to have dry eyes due to the dry climate. Nearly 90% of Albertans have some form of dry eye symptom, and this includes teenagers. Because of the dry air, many people need some additional eye lubrication, particularly in the winter when the air is driest. If you notice your teen rubbing their eyes or complaining of discomfort, especially in the winter, they may benefit from a trip to the optometrist or a winter dry eye kit. Read Why Are Dry Eyes Worse In The Winter to learn more.

Your teenager might not be diagnosed with allergies, but this is a possible cause for dry eye symptoms. Seasonal allergies and pet allergies are very common but many people are not diagnosed with them when they’re young unless the allergies are fairly severe. Itchy, dry eyes are a common sign of allergies and you may want to have your child assessed. Remember that allergies can develop over the course of someone’s life and just because your teenager didn’t have an allergy as a child doesn’t mean they don’t have one now.

Dry eyes are commonly caused by a lack of tear production or inadequate tear development, and a part of this tear deficiency can come from dehydration. Drinking enough water helps to hydrate the eyes from the inside out. However, teenagers often struggle to drink enough water for a variety of reasons. As teenagers move from class to class they may find it easier to not carry a water bottle, or they may choose to drink other beverages instead. You can try to get your teenager to drink more water by finding a water bottle they like and reminding them to drink water instead of pop or coffee. Also point out the link between dehydration and dry eyes so that they have an obvious incentive to stay hydrated and avoid dry eye symptoms.

Dry Eye Relief For Teenagers In Calgary

If you or your teenager are experiencing dry eye symptoms, an eye doctor from My Optometrist can help. Sometimes all it takes is a reminder to blink, drink water, and take breaks from screens, but other times there can be underlying conditions such as DES that need to be addressed. The staff at My Optometrist offer advanced dry eye treatment to reduce dry eye symptoms of all types in people of all ages. To book an eye exam with one of our eye doctors, contact My Optometrist at one of our three locations at Health First in SE Calgary, Sunridge in NE Calgary, or Three Hills, AB. You can also call us or fill out the online contact form.


Q: Is it safe for my teenager to use eye drops?
A: While there are some forms of over-the-counter lubricating eye drops, it is best to schedule a children’s eye exam and speak to an optometrist before you pick up eye drops for your teenager.

Q: What should I do if I think I have DES?
A: Book an appointment with the team at My Optometrist at any of our Calgary or Three Hills locations. Our knowledgeable team can accurately diagnose you and help you determine what steps to take next.

Q: How severe is my Dry Eye Syndrome?
A: If you want to assess the severity of your dry eyes before you come for dry eye treatment, you can take the dry eye quiz! Scroll to the quiz in the middle of this page and simply fill out the questionnaire.

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