Winter Woes: Cold Weather Habits That Lead To Dry Eyes

It is no secret that the cold, winter season has a habit of transforming the world outside and making us switch up our daily routines to prepare for the necessary changes that the winter months bring. For instance, in some parts of the country, the snow and ice of winter can lead to a large amount of preparation to combat dangerous roads and icy sidewalks. Or, if you are lucky enough to live in an area without snow, you still have to take extra steps to bundle up against the cold winter weather and protect yourself from the harsh winds.

However, when it comes to the chilling affects of the colder months, your environment and wardrobe are not the only parts of your life that need preparation for winter; our bodies and health are often affected just as much by the changes of winter, if not more so, than our environment outside.

From runny eyes, to chapped lips, to frozen fingers, there is no shortage of ways in which the cold can bring inconvenient changes to our day-to-day lives. However, one part of our body that often receives the worst of the winter weather is our eyes.

Between the harsh winter winds outside and the dry heat radiating inside, our eyes are very quickly irritated and dried in the winter months. Being exposed to either of these atmospheres can cause a sudden onset of moisture evaporation inside of our eyes, and our tear glands cannot simply produce fluid quick enough to maintain the protective, liquid coating that our eyes need to stay hydrated. The result is itchy, dry eyes that may cause pain, blurred vision, a burning sensation, or even watery vision as our eyes try to compensate for the dryness.

While it is difficult to avoid dry eyes all together in the winter months, there are several steps that you can take to ensure that your eyes stay as hydrated and healthy as possible in the start of 2012:

1. Humidify Your Home
During the cold, winter months, a home’s humidity level can easily dip below the 30-55 percent range that is required for our eyes to stay lubricated. One of the best ways to offset this dry air is to bring a humidifier into your home, or for a cheaper alternative, leaving off the exhaust in your bathroom while you are showering.

2. Enjoy Some Warm Soup
Many people do not realize that even mild dehydration can negatively affect the watery component of the eye. This is especially significant in winter because the cold temperatures can damped the body’s thirst mechanism, while artificial heat speeds the evaporation of tears. Instead, keep your eyes hydrated by sipping water throughout the day and upping your intake of fluid-rich foods, such as soup, fruits and veggies.

3. Increase Your Omegas
The dry air of the winter season has been shown to inflame the eyes’ tear glands, partially closing off tear flow. One way to ease this inflammation is to consume a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. If your diet is low of these helpful nutrients, taking a fish oil supplement will help to up your intake and increase the amount of tears heading to your eyes.

4. Heat Your Bum
Whenever you get behind the weal of a chilly car, your first instinct is to blast the heat on high until your body warms up. However, sitting in front of the forced air vent is basically the same thing as holding a hair dryer to your eyeballs. It can cause them to become very dry, very quickly. Instead, just heat your feet or turn on your seat warmer until you are at a comfortable temperature.

By EyeCare 20/20

Phone: (303) 467-0500
Fax: (303) 467-0502
4855 Ward Rd, Ste 500
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033