Everyone experiences dry, uncomfortable eyes once in a while due to wind, allergies, or staring at a computer for too long. For others, this condition happens on a chronic basis because their eyes don't produce enough tears or the right type of tears.
Almost 5 million people in the United States have dry eye syndrome. Symptoms of dry eye include:
- Blurry vision
- Red eyes
- A scratchy feeling
- Sensitivity to light
Older people, people who wear contacts, and women are more prone to developing dry eye.
While people who have dry eye syndrome experience uncomfortable symptoms year-round, these symptoms tend to be worse in the dry winter. In winter months, moisture in the air drops outside, and moisture in the air inside drops as well because of indoor heating.
Winter colds and the flu can make your eyes itchy, watery, and red.
What causes dry eye?
The glands above your eyes make tears to help keep the surface of your eyes lubricated. Tears are made up of a combination of water, fatty oils, and mucus. All three components work together to make your eyes clear and protect them against infection.
Dry eye occurs when your glands don't produce enough tears, or there is an imbalance in the makeup of your tears. This can result in dry eye due to a lack of moisture or increased evaporation of your tears.
How to relieve dry eye in the winter
Fortunately, there are many ways to combat dry eye in the winter, and all year round. At Smart Eye Care with two Brooklyn, New York, locations, our experienced ophthalmologists can help you deal with dry eye. Here are six helpful tips we recommend:
Use a humidifier
A humidifier adds moisture to dry indoor air. Use one in the places you spend the most time, such as your bedroom and workplace.
Soothe your eyes
Placing a warm compress over your eyes every morning can help unclog ducts to get tear production going and also help soothe irritated eyes. To make a compress, wet a washcloth with warm water, wring out the water and place over your eyes.
It's important to protect your eyes from the sun, wind, and other elements with sunglasses or goggles. It's especially important to help prevent dry eye in the winter.
Take eye breaks from your screen
American adults spend about 11 hours a day in front of a screen. Aside from the potential back, weight, and social deprivation problems, sitting in front of a screen all day makes you blink less. Take regular breaks from staring at the screen. Close your eyes or blink a few times during these breaks.
Use artificial tears
Over-the-counter eye drops can help relieve dry eye symptoms. But if you find you're using them too frequently to find relief, talk to us about trying prescription eyedrops.
For more information on how to manage your dry eye in the winter and other seasons, call us at Smart Eye Care or request an appointment using our online tool.