Cold winter weather affects not just the skin but also the eyes. People who suffer from dry eyes experience an exacerbation of symptoms during harsh weather. Symptoms of dry eye include stinging or burning, red eye, itchiness, a sensation of a foreign body, and blurry vision. Others are light sensitivity, eye fatigue, and discomfort wearing contact lenses.
When the eyes fail to produce adequate tears to maintain moisture, it causes dryness and discomfort. Frequent use of artificial tears can help keep the eyes lubricated. OTC eye drops or ointments are effective at relieving mild dry eye symptoms. They can be applied as often as necessary to increase moisture and enhance comfort.
Blinking is a natural function that helps redistribute tears, keeping the eyes healthy and lubricated. The eyelids continuously spread tears over the eyes, ensuring they remain hydrated. People tend to blink less when using digital devices or performing tasks that require concentration. It is necessary to make a conscious effort to blink frequently.
Indoor heating is common during winter, and it causes the air to dry. Dry heat causes tears to evaporate fast, worsening dry eye symptoms. Using a humidifier can protect your eyes, keeping them moist. Keep it on throughout the night. You can also get a humidifier to place on your desk as you work.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help keep the eyes hydrated. Most people reduce their water intake during winter, which can contribute to dry eye symptoms. If you find it difficult to drink plain water, consuming herbal tea or adding lemon can help. Avoid or limit the consumption of beverages that can cause dehydration.
Sunglasses are not just for summer; they can be worn all year round. The sun radiates harmful UV rays even during winter or cloudy days. Wearing wraparound sunglasses outdoors will protect the eyes from the rays while shielding them from harsh winds. Polarized lenses protect the eyes from glare from ice, snow, and other shiny surfaces.
The eyelids have tiny glands (meibomian glands) that produce the oil required for a healthy tear film. Sometimes, debris and makeup cause the glands to become blocked. This reduces the oil produced, causing the tears to evaporate too fast, resulting in dry eyes. Cleaning your eyelids carefully each evening after removing your makeup will help prevent clogging.
Placing a wet warm compress over the eyelids can help soothe the eyes and reduce dry eye symptoms. Blocked oil glands can cause dry eyes. Using the compress every night after cleaning your lids can help unblock the glands and improve moisture. It will also help you relax.
If you suffer from chronic dry eye, visit your optometrist for the best treatment options. The doctor will recommend treatment to relieve your symptoms. You can receive prescription medications or in-office therapies to help with your condition. If you suffer from allergies, the doctor will prescribe allergy medication.
For more on preventing dry eyes in the winter, call North Texas Ophthalmology Associates at (940) 240-8400 for our office in Wichita Falls, Texas.