As temperatures drop, most of us tend to hibernate inside of our cozy, heated homes. While turning up the heat will keep us warm and comfortable, it also reduces the level of moisture in the air, which in turn dries out our skin and eyes. Dry skin can be easily remedied with lotions and moisturizers. Our dry eyes however, are not so easily cured.
Dry air causes moisture to evaporate inside of our eyes, which prevents the tear glands from producing fluid rapidly enough to keep the eyes properly hydrated. When this occurs, you may experience stinging or burning eyes, scratchiness, excess tearing, or discomfort when wearing contact lenses.
If you think you may have dry eyes, take the dry eye quiz and check out our tips below to help give your eyes the hydration they need throughout the winter season:
- Drink more water. Drinking water is the best way to keep your entire body hydrated year-round. Doctors recommend eight glasses daily for optimal hydration.
- Add tears. Eye drops lubricate the eye and help maintain moisture. Eye drops are the primary treatment for dry eyes. To find eye drops that will be the most effective for your eyes, ask your ophthalmologist for suggestions.
- Use a humidifier. The easiest way to add moisture to indoor air during the winter months is to use a humidifier. The increased humidity will prevent moisture from evaporating in your eyes.
- Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses not only help protect your eyes from UV rays during the winter months, they also provide a barrier against harsh winds and cold temperatures that tend to dry out the eyes.
- Keep your contact lenses clean and moisturized. If you wear contacts, it is even more important to keep your eyes moisturized during the winter season. When your contact lenses dry out you can experience very painful stinging and heaviness in the eyes. Lubricating eye drops and contact solution should be applied regularly for the most comfortable results. It is also important to keep your contacts clean when removing and reapplying to prevent infection.
- LASIK. Many people cannot tolerate wearing contact lenses with dry eye. If you are one of these people, another option is to eliminate the need for contacts altogether with LASIK or another vision correction surgery. Special treatments may be necessary to alleviate the symptoms of dry eye prior to LASIK, during the time of recuperation after surgery.
Taking care of your eyes is very important during any season. Following these simple guidelines will help to keep your eyes hydrated and healthy all yearlong.
If you are continually bothered by dry eyes and feel that it is not just a seasonal side effect, one of our Key-Whitman ophthalmologists can easily diagnose dry eye with an eye exam and painless tests. Treatment and medication are available to alleviate or end your symptoms.