A recent publication focused on the COVID-19 pandemic found that subjective dry eye symptoms were related to both depression and anxiety.
I would be remiss not to mention the role of sleep in all of this. Poor sleep quality and dry eye are bidirectionally related. Even one night of sleep deprivation can produce noticeable changes in tear film break-up time, tear osmolarity, and tear secretion.
Factor in the multi-directional relationships between dry eye, poor sleep, and depression, where each can exacerbate symptoms of the other, and the picture comes much more into view. We need to be addressing more facets of wellbeing, and not treating any of them as though they occur in a vacuum.
The flip side of this is encouraging: Treating any of these conditions can often lead to improvements in others. For instance, providing some education around sleep while treating dry eyes improved measures of both sleep and depression.
In sum, it is now obvious that we need to be paying more attention to overall wellness, and not just dry eye symptoms or other conditions by themselves. Symptoms may fluctuate, and may in fact correlate better with mental health, mood, or sleep issues.
At Umay, we have been inspired by this wealth of literature, and want to empower users and our partner clinics alike to consider health more holistically. We look at dry eyes as one of the symptoms under the umbrella of digital eye strain (with sleep and mental health even more broadly under “digital strain”).
Emphasize how dry eyes may be affecting sleep, and how sleep may be affecting mood, how mood may affect productivity or outlook, and how all of these factors can lead to symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Intentionally taking breaks to rest both our eyes and our minds is paramount. REST is designed to be as convenient as possible to use, and can act as a physical reminder to engage in healthier routines – for better eye health, sleep, and mental health.