The temperature drops, the heater kicks on and all of a sudden your eyes are itchy, red and burning. One of the most common complaints we hear at our office every winter relates to dry eyes. Even patients who have never suffered from dry eyes in the past can suddenly be bothered during the cold months.
What Causes Dry Eyes In Winter?
This is why it is important to see your doctor at Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region, an Accredited Dry Eye Center, when symptoms arise.
Dry eyes that specifically arise in winter are typically due to the conditions of the seasons. The combination of dry indoor and outdoor air causes rapid evaporation of tears, which are always present in our eyes and serve as lubrication every time we blink. Our tear ducts can’t keep up with the rapid evaporation and the result is dry eyes.
Relieving Dry Eye Symptoms
When it comes to treating dry eyes, everyone’s needs are a little different. Many find relief simply from using artificial tears on a regular basis. Some of these products are watery and alleviate the symptoms temporarily; others are thicker and adhere to the eye longer. Preservative-free tears are recommended because they are the most soothing and have fewer additives that could potentially irritate. Closing the opening of the tear drain in the eyelid with special inserts called punctal plugs is another option. These plugs trap the tears on the eye, keeping it moist. This may be done on a temporary basis with a dissolvable collagen plug, or permanently with a silicone plug.
Other ways to help alleviate dry include:
- Take Dry Eye Vitamins. Dry Eye Omega Benefits® provides 2-3 grams of Omega-3s supporting proper tear function and provides natural relief for dry eyes. This also provides cardio protective benefits. 2-3 grams of Omega-3s is recommended by the American Heart Association
- Use a Humidifier. A humidifier can help moisturize the air inside your home and bring relief to your dry eyes.
- Protect Your Eyes Outside. Cold, dry and windy air outside can harm your eyes too. You can protect them by wearing sunglasses.
- Give Your Eyes A Break. Dry eyes often result from staring at a computer screen for too long. It’s extremely common to not blink as frequently when using electronics as we might otherwise. Help your eyes stay lubricated by consciously giving them a break from screens.
Don’t forget to schedule a visit with your eye doctor at Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region. A comprehensive eye exam can uncover any underlying causes or medical conditions that could be contributing to dry eyes.