Winter is almost here. The cold temperatures can wreak havoc on your eyes. It’s common for dry eye symptoms to be more severe during the winter months, resulting in considerable discomfort. This is particularly true if you suffer from dry eye syndrome, a condition that occurs when your eyes fail to produce a sufficient quality of tear film.
Whether you suffer from chronic dry eye syndrome or you simply experience an increase in dry eye symptoms due to the cold, dry winter weather, there are certain steps you can take to minimize the discomfort associated with this condition.
Daily Actions to Minimize Dry Eye Symptoms
The following tips will help you minimize the impact of dry eyes this winter and reduce any discomfort you may experience:
- Use drops to keep your eyes moist – Applying artificial tears or similar lubricating eye drops several times a day can help keep your eyes moist during the cold, dry winter months. If you simply experience an increase in dry eye symptoms during the winter, you can use over-the-counter lubricating drops. However, if you suffer from a more severe case of dry eye syndrome, speak to us about prescription drops that can help keep your eyes comfortable.
- Avoid sitting directly in front of heat sources –A fire can feel great on a cold winter night, but it can also rob your eyes of precious moisture. Make sure you sit far enough away from the fireplace to keep your eyes comfortable. You should also point the heating vent in your car towards your lower body to prevent the blowing air from drying out your eyes.
- Hydrate –Proper hydration benefits your entire body, including your eyes. Drink plenty of water in order to keep your eyes moist.
- Use a humidifier –Using a humidifier in your home is one of the best ways to reduce dry eye symptoms. Turning up the heat on a cold day will dry out the air in your home, and a humidifier can help restore proper levels of moisture to the air.
- Don’t rub your eyes –Rubbing your eyes can increase irritation and potentially cause infections if your hands aren’t clean. This action can also negatively impact the quality of your tears, which will exacerbate any dry eye symptoms you may be experiencing.
- Blink often –Blinking will redistribute the tear film throughout the front of your eyes, which will help facilitate proper lubrication.
- Don’t stare at computer screens for prolonged periods of time –If you have a job that requires you to sit in front of a computer all day, make sure you take frequent breaks. Staring at a computer screen, tablet or smart phone for extended periods of time can dry out your eyes. It’s best to follow the 20/20/20 rule – take a screen break every 20 minutes and look at least 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- Use a warm compress –Using a warm compress will help facilitate tear secretion. Apply a warm, damp washcloth to your eyes for 2-3 minutes in order to increase moisture. This can also help alleviate many of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with dry eyes, including the scratchy, irritating sensation that often occurs as part of this condition.
- Take a break from contact lenses – Contact lenses can disrupt your tear film. If you are experiencing an increase in dry eye symptoms, consider wearing your glasses for a few days.
- Wear eye protection –Sunglasses are important during the winter months as well as during the summer months. They can provide your eyes with important protection on cold, windy days. If you are a skier, make sure you always wear goggles that fit snugly on your face to prevent the wind from getting into your eyes and drying them out.
Contact our Flint Ophthalmologists
At East Michigan Eye Center, we offer a wide range of treatments for dry eye syndrome. Our doctors will recommend the right solution to address your unique needs. We serve patients from all over southeastern Michigan.