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Randomized Trial of Desktop Humidifier for Dry Eye Relief in Computer Users

Wang, Michael T. M.1; Chan, Evon BOptom1,2; Ea, Linda BOptom1,2; Kam, Clifford BOptom1,2; Lu, Yvonne BOptom1,2; Misra, Stuti L. PhD, BOptom, FAAO1; Craig, Jennifer P. PhD, MCOptom, FAAO1*

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001136
Clinical Trials

SIGNIFICANCE Dry eye is a frequently reported problem among computer users. Low relative humidity environments are recognized to exacerbate signs and symptoms of dry eye, yet are common in offices of computer operators. Desktop USB-powered humidifiers are available commercially, but their efficacy for dry eye relief has not been established.

PURPOSE This study aims to evaluate the potential for a desktop USB-powered humidifier to improve tear-film parameters, ocular surface characteristics, and subjective comfort of computer users.

METHODS Forty-four computer users were enrolled in a prospective, masked, randomized crossover study. On separate days, participants were randomized to 1 hour of continuous computer use, with and without exposure to a desktop humidifier. Lipid-layer grade, noninvasive tear-film breakup time, and tear meniscus height were measured before and after computer use. Following the 1-hour period, participants reported whether ocular comfort was greater, equal, or lesser than that at baseline.

RESULTS The desktop humidifier effected a relative difference in humidity between the two environments of +5.4 ± 5.0% (P < .001). Participants demonstrated no significant differences in lipid-layer grade and tear meniscus height between the two environments (all P > .05). However, a relative increase in the median noninvasive tear-film breakup time of +4.0 seconds was observed in the humidified environment (P < .001), which was associated with a higher proportion of subjects reporting greater comfort relative to baseline (36% vs. 5%, P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS Even with a modest increase in relative humidity locally, the desktop humidifier shows potential to improve tear-film stability and subjective comfort during computer use.

Trial registration no: ACTRN12617000326392.

1Department of Ophthalmology, New Zealand National Eye Centre, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

2Department of Optometry and Vision Science, New Zealand National Eye Centre, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand *jp.craig@auckland.ac.nz

Submitted: October 10, 2016

Accepted: August 29, 2017

Funding/Support: None of the authors have reported funding/support.

Conflict of Interest Disclosure: None of the authors have reported a conflict of interest.

Author Contributions: Formal Analysis, Validation, Visualization, Writing – Original Draft: MTMW; Data Curation, Project Administration, Writing – Review & Editing: EC, LE, CK, YL; Project Administration, Supervision, Writing –Review & Editing: SLM; Conceptualization, Funding Acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Project Administration, Resources, Supervision, Validation, Writing – Review & Editing: JPC.

© 2017 American Academy of Optometry