Dry Eyes: Is Cold Weather The Culprit?

Snowflake on a piece of woodWe’ve experienced our first bout of winter weather in North Texas—how are your eyes faring? Have you noticed eye irritation such as burning, itching or discomfort with your contact lenses once the cold weather blew through?

Lower temperatures combined with running the heater in your home and car can work a number on your eyes, drying them out and causing irritation. It’s the same reason you may experience dry or chapped skin during winter months. Your home heater reduces moisture in the air, which causes dry eyes and dry skin.

Winter air is also drier than humid summer air, and the dry air causes moisture in your eyes to evaporate more quickly than it would in the summer, preventing the production of tears to keep your eyes moist.

You can apply lotion on your skin and hands, but you can’t put lotion in your eyes. So how can you keep your eyes from drying out when the mercury drops? Here are four tips to keep your eyes moist and hydrated this winter season:

  1. Water keeps your entire body hydrated, including your eyes. If you have a hard time remembering to drink water, carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go. Make it your goal to refill your water bottle four to six times a day to be sure you’re drinking enough.
  2. Lubricating eye drops are the main course of treatment for dry eyes and help your eyes maintain moisture. Ask your eye doctor to recommend the eye drops that will be most effective for your eyes and to give you a prescription for drops if necessary.
  3. A humidifier can replace the moisture in the air in your home that is lost when you run the heater. Increased moisture in your home helps prevent the moisture in your eyes from evaporating, relieving painful dry eyes symptoms.
  4. If you wear contact lenses, be sure to keep them clean and moisturized to eliminate irritation caused by contacts and dry eyes. Do not sleep in your contacts. Use lubricating eye drops to get the most comfort when wearing your lenses.

Though winter weather is one cause of dry eyes, it is not the only cause. If you experience dry eyes year round, the doctors at Key-Whitman can easily diagnose your condition with a comprehensive eye exam, offer dry eye treatment and, if necessary, prescription medication or eye drops to alleviate the irritation associated with dry eyes.