With the dry season upon us, many people find themselves suffering from winter dry eye. This condition can be a serious discomfort and even affect your vision. By taking some simple steps, though, you can prevent this problem from arising.
Q: What is winter dry eye and how can I prevent it?
A: Winter dry eye is a condition that causes symptoms of dryness, irritation, burning and stinging. The symptoms are caused by cold temperatures, low humidity and less moisture in the air. People with winter dry eye may experience episodes of watery eyes or excess mucus in their eyes. This is a response to the extreme dryness in an attempt to lubricate the eyes.
During the winter months, you’re more likely to experience dry eye because cold temperatures cause our bodies to conserve moisture. That means we produce fewer tears and are less likely to blink frequently. Colder temperatures also mean that we tend to spend more time indoors with low humidity levels.
You can take steps to relieve dry eye this winter:
- Keep blinking: As mentioned above, our body conserves water when it’s cold outside causing us to blink less often, allowing tears to evaporate from our eyes faster than they can be replaced. To combat this issue, make a conscious effort to blink more often when you’re inside during the winter months
- Wear glasses, not contacts: If you wear contact lenses, you should switch to wearing glasses in winter—especially when it’s windy or snowy outside. Wind and extreme cold can cause dryness and irritation if they get under your contact lenses. During the winter months, the air is typically drier, which can make your eyes feel irritated.
- Use lubricating eyedrops. Look for those that contain sodium hyaluronate or hypromellose. These help moisturize the surface of your eyes and prevent them from becoming too dry. You might also consider using artificial tears more than once a day if you’ve been in windy conditions for an extended period of time.