CES 2019 Innovation Honoree Umay Rest relieves eye strain, dry eye

When Ali Habib went to his optometrist in 2010, he was prescribed a warm compress treatment — whereby patients apply warm, wet towels to their eyelids for five to 10 minutes daily to help with symptoms of digital eye strain.

He did it once. Lying on his bed with water dripping into his ears and soaking his pillow, the Umay Care founder and CEO thought there’s no way he was doing this again.

Warm compresses are commonly prescribed for the symptoms of digital eye strain which include, itchy, watery, red, tired and dry eyes — but like Ali, most patients drop out after a few attempts.

“The whole issue is that it’s really inconvenient,” he says.

Partnering with his sister, optometrist Dr. Sharmin Habib, the entrepreneur began exploring ways to better integrate thermal therapy into his lifestyle.

The resulting device, called Umay Rest, was recently named a 2019 CES Innovation Award Honoree for Tech for a Better World. It works to reset the effects of screen time on the user’s eyes and overall health.

Digital eye strain is one of the most common ocular problems in the world — becoming more prevalent over the past decade, due to an increase in digital device use. On average, North Americans spend more than 10 hours in front of a screen every day.

Screen use reduces blink rates (how often we blink) and blink completeness (whether the eyelid completely closes), which can throw off the chemical composition of an individual’s tears.