Seasonal Dry Eye: Prevention and Treatment Tips

It’s that time of the year! You want to go outside and enjoy the brisk air, that cool winter breeze, yet you don’t want to experience the dry and burning sensation in your eyes that comes along with it. Winter dry eyes can result from the cold winds outside and the heat inside that cause moisture evaporation.

Eyes dry out when moisture evaporation occurs more quickly than our tear glands can produce fluids to maintain the protective, moist coating around our eyes. In order to combat this problem, it’s important to increase the moisture content in your environment in order to counteract the dry air your eyes are exposed to during the winter. So let’s look at some ways of preventing the burning, itchy, dry eye effect that is so common in the winter.

Dry Eye Prevention Tips
To avoid the onset of dry eyes in the winter Dr. Tracy recommends the following:
•  Use a humidifier to prevent fluid evaporation from eyes (and skin).
•  Keep your eyes closed or use moisturizing eye drops in each eye prior to blow-drying your hair.
•  Cut back on the amount of coffee you drink. Coffee contains a mild diuretic that may exacerbate dry eyes.
•  Place your computer screen at eye level because looking up causes the natural tear produced from your eyes to evaporate more quickly, leaving you with itchy, dry eyes.
•  Wear glasses or sunglasses when you are outdoors to prevent the cold winter wind from directly hitting your eyes. You can also wear a brimmed hat or hood to protect your eyes from the winter elements.
•  Avoid dusty or smoke-filled rooms.

But if you are already experiencing symptoms, what can you do to treat dry eyes?

Dry Eye Treatment Tips
Moisture, moisture, and yes more moisture is the key.
•  Keep a bottle of artificial tears (lubricant eye drops) close by, and use often and before bedtime.
•  Give your eyes periodic breaks throughout the day by closing them for five minutes.
•  If you wear contact lenses, switch to wearing glasses at least part-time.
•  Avoid rubbing your eyes because this will only make things worse. Try applying artificial tears and close your eyes for a few minutes instead.
•  If your dry eyes still persist, see an ophthalmologist for further treatment options, such as punctal plugs and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy.

By following these few simple steps, you can get adequate relief from discomfort for many winters to come.
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