The atmosphere of an aircraft is drier and is under lower pressure than normal. In addition there are often blowers above seats that cause increased evaporation of tears. Travellers often cannot sleep on long haul flights and will attempt to while away time by reading, using their computers and watching triple movie screenings. When people are overtired their rate of blinking also decreases. These conditions can aggravate existing eye problems as well as giving rise to symptoms in people who do not ordinarily suffer from dry eyes.
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