Winter is gearing up for its annual onslaught of snow, ice and cold. You may associate the cold with many things: your car takes longer to start up in the morning, you have to bundle up before stepping outside, and you can kiss all those fun leisurely outdoor activities goodbye till spring.
But one thing you probably don’t think about too much when it comes to cold air is winter dry eye. Your eyes may feel raw, it may be harder to keep them moist, and with all that increased blinking, you may wonder what can be done about it. Just as the cold weather dries out your skin, it does the same to your eyes, resulting in an itchy and uncomfortable experience all winter long.
Why? Because there’s so much more dry air and we’re spending more time indoors, this lack of moisture can cause the surface of your eyes to dry out. The result? Irritation, itchiness and discomfort. And adding insult to injury, if you use contact lenses or suffer from chronic allergies, you have a greater risk of developing dry eyes.
Heed these tips to prevent and soothe your winter dry eye:
1. Use Warm Compresses and Humidifiers
Wet a clean washcloth with warm water, ring it out and place over your eyes for a few minutes at a time. This will give your eyes a chance to rest, while soothing them and easing any discomfort.
If you have a humidifier, turn it on. This adds moisture to the air that has been robbed from the artificial heat circulating through your home in winter. Empty the water collection tank regularly and be sure to change the filter when needed.
2. Try Blinking More Often
Sounds weird to recommend this, but blinking redistributes and establishes a tear film over the front of your eye, leading to better vision, lubrication, and comfort. One thing you should not do more of is rub your eyes. Frequent rubbing leads to inflammation, impacting the quality of tears and leading to painful corneal abrasions.
3. Use Artificial Tears or Eye Drops
These products serve to keep the eye moist. There are lots of over-the-counter gels and drops you can choose from that will resolve minor irritations. Stay away from drops that say they will remove redness, i.e., Visine, because these tend to constrict blood vessels temporarily. Repeated use will actually serve to aggravate your eyes even more.
4. Wear Sunglasses
Use sunglasses outdoors to keep UV rays and wind at bay. Even in winter, your eyes can be harmed by the sun, so always keep a pair in your car and in your home for impromptu jaunts out on a bright day.
5. Wear a Visor or Mask During Sports
Do you love to partake in outdoor winter activities, such as skiing, hockey and ice skating? If so, be sure to wear an athletic mask, goggles or visors to protect your eyes from elbow jabs as well as the weather.
In the case of severe dry eyes where none of the above are helping, ask your eye doctor for a stronger treatment, available only by prescription.
Feel like your eyes are dry all the time? Is nothing working? Your eye doctor can give you prescription relief as well as check for any underlying conditions that could be the root of your discomfort. Contact us today at 302-239-1933.