Between the harsh winter winds outside and the dry heat inside, our eyes can quickly become irritated and dried out in the winter months. Being exposed to either of these atmospheres can trigger a sudden onset of moisture evaporation inside of our eyes. Tear glands can’t produce fluid quick enough to maintain the protective, liquid coating that our eyes need to stay hydrated. The result of this lack of moisture is itchy, dry eyes that can cause pain, blurred vision, burning sensations, or even watery vision as our eyes compensate for the dryness. Learn how you can combat problems with winter dry eyes today!
Winter brings cold temperatures, and in many places snow. However, the winter months can also bring winter dry eye conditions to many patients. If you notice that your eyes seem drier in the winter, you’re not alone. You get drier eyes because there is the increased wind, dry indoor air, and many places are blasting heat, all of which evaporate tears in the eyes.
Your eyes need moisture to stay healthy. Your eyes are actually mostly made up of different chambers of fluid that hold all your nerves and tissues in place. Even on your eye surface, you have several different layers of moisture that are made up of both water and oil. Tears in your eyes help keep them clean and the eye tissues moist. Tears are provided by several glands in and around the eyelids. These tears are about 99% water and protect the delicate cells of the cornea. You need moisture in your eyes to prevent blurry vision, inflammation, hard spots and more.
Combat winter dry eye symptoms by:
Adding humidity to your home. Many turn the heat up in the winter months to stay warm. However, this can evaporate moisture in the air quickly, which can dry out your skin and your eyes. Help remedy this problem by running a humidifier in your home.
Hydrate your body. Dehydration causes many problems in your body. You will have less energy, have drier skin, have digestive issues, and dry eyes. Make sure to drink at least half your body weight in ounces every day to stay hydrated.
Up your intake of Omegas. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil supplements. Taking one will help the quality of your tear film, as it is an oily film.
Limit your exposure to dry heat vents/heaters. Winter is a time where many people blast heaters in their car or home. This can lead to winter dry eye problems, especially if that heater is right in your face. Try diverting the heat to your feet so the heat doesn’t dry out your eyes.
Try a lubricating eye drop. Eye drops instantly fix your dry eye problems and is bought over-the-counter.
There are patients who not only get winter dry eye, but they have dry eye symptoms year-round. Your eyes should not constantly feel dry. In a healthy eye, tears move across the eye when you blink to lubricate the front surface of your eye. Tears also wash away debris, protect against infection and stabilize vision. Some patients don’t produce enough tears or moisture for their eyes to stay healthy. This is known as Dry Eye Syndrome, and it’s not something you want to simply live with or ignore.
Dry eye can damage your cornea and other eye tissues because they lack the moisture they need to stay healthy. Parts of your eyes can harden, become inflamed, irritated, and cause your vision problems. Treatments for constant dry eye (not just winter dry eye) are available and necessary for maintaining proper eye health. We recommend using artificial tears both for dry eye and winter dry eye. These ointments or drops can be obtained over-the-counter. There are also prescription eye drops for this condition, medical devices, and procedures that can help with constant dry eye.
If you have dry eye, but you don’t think it’s associated with a dry eye syndrome or winter dry eye, your daily habits might be to blame. Millions of people use electronic devices for hours a day. These types of devices include smartphones, tablets, laptops, televisions and anything with an LED screen or fluorescent lighting. When people start to have eye problems because of these electronics, it is known as “computer vision syndrome”. You will know you are having problems with these devices if you experience eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, and of course dry eye.
The way to remedy this kind of dry eye is to use eye drops to replenish that moisture. We also recommend using computer glasses—a type of glasses that blocks out blue light and prevents computer vision syndrome. Plus, these glasses prevent you from getting macular degeneration from too much blue light exposure.
It’s common to get winter dry eye in the winter months. However, if you think your symptoms are more than simply winter dry eye, you should come into our office for an examination. The American Optometric Association recommends that you have an eye exam at least every two years. Those with vision problems should see the eye doctor every year. If you are prone to dry eye problems or have been experiencing winter dry eye, come in to see us and follow our tips to prevent irritation. To schedule your appointment or to learn more, call Optical Masters today at (720) 782-2190!