In today’s screen-centric, 24/7 society, dry eye syndrome is more prevalent than ever, affecting millions of adults in the United States at any given time. Commonly known as dry eyes, this irritating and chronic condition can make everyday tasks like driving, reading, and working on a computer a little less comfortable and a little more difficult.
Whether your dry eye problem is caused by low tear production or poor tear quality, chances are your symptoms become far more intense when the moist, humid air of summer and early fall slowly gives way to cold winter wind and dry indoor heat.
But even if plummeting humidity and low air moisture levels are inevitable at this time of year, there’s a lot you can do to counteract these desiccating environmental changes and keep your eyes comfortably moist all season long.
Here are a few of our best strategies:
If you’ve been living with chronically dry eyes for a while now, chances are you already use prescription eye drops, or artificial tears, to keep your eyes well-lubricated throughout the day. This habit is even more important in the winter when low humidity levels and dry indoor heat pull even more precious moisture from the surface of your eyes.
If your eyes are perpetually dry and you don’t already use drops, it’s a good idea to cultivate the habit as soon as possible. Prescription eye drops designed to alleviate dry eye are made to supplement or stimulate your natural tear production, depending on your needs. Dr. Garrana can help you determine the best product for your condition.
Sure, it’s cold and dry outside in the wintertime — especially when the wind blows — but indoor air can be even drier, particularly when the heat’s on. Make your home more dry-eye-friendly by running a humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer whenever you’re there. A small desktop humidifier can help your eyes stay comfortably moist in a dry office environment, too.
If the air in your house is exceptionally dry, you may want to use several humidifiers to maintain a more consistent environment. You can also give your eyes a much-needed break by situating yourself away from radiators, hot-air vents, cozy fires, and other heat sources.
Whether you’re a winter sports enthusiast or you only head outside to complete your daily steps, it’s important to protect your eyes from harsh winter weather whenever you plan to spend a significant amount of time outdoors.
Whenever it’s extremely cold or windy, wear large-framed or wraparound-style protective glasses that provide 100% protection against harmful ultraviolet (UV) light. Well-fitted sports goggles are a better choice if you plan to go skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, or sledding.
Because your body uses the fluids from your diet to keep your eyes lubricated, staying well-hydrated is one of the best ways to support tear production and minimize dry eye symptoms through every season of the year.
Drinking enough is particularly important in the winter, however, when cold dry air, harsh winds, and mild dehydration can spell disaster for your eyes, leaving them red, gritty, irritated, and blurry.
Many people with dry eyes are surprised by just how helpful an uncomplicated strategy like staying hydrated can be. But how can you tell if you’re properly hydrated? Simply increase your fluid intake until your urine is consistently light yellow or transparent.
In the winter, shorter days and severe weather often translate to more time indoors — and more screen time — for many people. While it may help keep boredom at bay, focusing on screens for too long can exacerbate your dry eye symptoms.
If you spend a lot of time looking at your computer, smartphone, tablet, or television, give your eyes a break by following the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, take a break and look at an object that’s 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
And when your eyes are focused on that screen, make an effort to blink more often. Every time you blink, a fresh layer of tears washes over the surface of your eyes to help keep them moist.
If you’d like to learn other helpful ways to manage dry eye syndrome through the winter and beyond, the team at Advanced Lasik can help. Call your nearest office in Manhattan, New York City, or Long Beach, California, or use the online tool to schedule a visit with Dr. Garrana any time.