Ken Jeong Says Long Days on Set Have Given Him Dry Eye Disease

·2 min read

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Ken Jeong developed dry eye disease from long hours on the job — both as a physician in his previous occupation and in his current role as an entertainer.

"It has been an issue for me for decades in terms of just long hours on a set or in the hospital, extended use of contact lenses — those can all exacerbate or worsen symptoms of dry eye disease," he tells PEOPLE while filming a promotional video for Xiidra, a prescription eye drop designed to treat the issue. "Whether it was The Masked Singer or I Can See Your Voice, dusty sound stages just in general, you develop symptoms."

Jeong, 51, goes into what he calls "doctor mode" and warns that many others may have the condition without realizing it. He says people who regularly feel "achiness, grittiness in the eyes and just itchy burn," may have dry eye disease.

"Throughout the pandemic, we've all had increased screen time, especially on Zoom, and that can definitely just dry out the eyes naturally and exacerbate symptoms," he says. "Basically, you have a decreased blinking time. So you blink less when you're facing the screen."

Jeong adds that some people may mistake dry eye for allergies, but if symptoms are consistent, it could be from chronic inflammation in the eyes. "It's happening in both eyes," he says. "It's not just localized. It's more bilateral."

"At the end of the day, it does take talking to an eye doctor to help determine if you have dry eye disease or not," he says.

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Xiidra Ken Jeong on set of his Xiidra commercial

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Community costar Joel McHale once admitted on The Darkest Timeline podcast that he constantly uses eye drops, but Jeong says he believes McHale, 49, has a different eye issue.

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"He has something completely, completely different. And I know his ego would want me to say something about him, but I categorically refuse. Not about Joel McHale. I'm talking about something way more important," Jeong says jokingly about his friend.