With cold winter temperatures come wind, dry indoor air and blasting heat, all of which can be annoying to your eyes. In fact, this season is the most common time of year that people complain about dry, itchy and watery eyes. The good news is, even if it’s miserable outside you can still find relief using these simple tips!
- Humidify Your Home
During the cold, winter months, a home’s humidity level can easily dip below the 30-55 percent range that is required for our eyes to stay lubricated. One of the best ways to offset this dry air is to bring a humidifier into your home, or for a cheaper alternative, leaving the fan turned off in your bathroom while you’re showering.
- Enjoy Some Warm Soup
Even mild dehydration can negatively affect the watery component of the eye. This is especially significant in winter because the cold temperatures can dampen the body’s thirst mechanism, while artificial heat speeds the evaporation of tears. Instead, keep your eyes hydrated by sipping water throughout the day and upping your intake of fluid-rich foods, such as soup, fruits and veggies.
- Increase Your Omegas
The dry air of the winter season has been shown to inflame the eyes’ tear glands, partially closing off tear flow. One way to ease this inflammation is to consume a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Aim for 1,000-2,000 mg per day--some great sources are salmon, mackerel, flaxseed, walnuts and soybeans. If your diet is low of these helpful nutrients, taking a fish oil supplement will help to up your intake and increase the volume of tears heading to your eyes.
- Divert Heat
Whenever you get behind the wheel of a chilly car, your first instinct is to blast the heat on high until your body warms up. However, sitting in front of the forced air vent is basically the same thing as holding a hair dryer to your eyeballs. It can cause them to become very dry, very quickly. Instead, just heat your feet or turn on your seat warmer until you are at a comfortable temperature.
- Take blink breaks.
According to a report by the Vision Council, approximately 22% of people said they had dry eye because of digital eyestrain. That’s because when you stare at a screen, you blink about 50% less often, and that blink is what distributes the tear across the surface of your eye.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule: look away from your screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds at something 20 feet away. You can also practice more ‘complete’ blinks--focus on squeezing your eyelids together every time you blink. This will stimulate the glands in your eyelids that protect your tear film and help lubricate your eye.
6. See your Eye Doctor
Since an occasional bout of dry eyes can eventually progress into dry eye syndrome or dry eye disease--which the National Institutes of Health estimate affects 3.2 mission women 50 and older and 1.68 million men age 50 and older--it’s important to have your eyes evaluated. Your EYEcenter optometrist can determine if you don’t have enough water in your eye (known as the aqueous tear-deficient dry eye), or not enough oil (known as evaporative dry eye or meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD). Many times, evaporative dry eye occurs because the oils are thick and not able to be expressed out of the glands. And because of the wind and dry indoor heat in the winter, symptoms tend to be worse. Whatever the type of dry eye, your EYEcenter doctor can prescribe a treatment to help ease symptoms and make your whole winter cozier.
Whether your eyes are dry in winter, or year-round, the symptoms aren’t something you have to live with--our experts can help! Call us or click here to schedule an appointment today.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.