Keep Your Eyes Healthy in Cold Weather
Temperatures are dropping, cold winds are blowing, and you’re dressing in coats to keep your body protected from the cold. But you may be neglecting one important part of your body in the winter—your eyes.
Freezing air sucks moisture from everything, including your skin and eyes. And when you escape the cold and head indoors, the blast of heat that usually greets you this time of year can dry your eyes out even more. Some of the unpleasant symptoms of winter dry eyes are:
- Stinging and burning
- A feeling like sand in your eyes
- Mucus in and around your eyes
- Excessive tearing
- Blurry vision
Dry, irritated eyes are common this time of year, but they don’t have to be. Here are some things you can do to take care of your eyes this winter.
Check with Your Doctor
Researchers with the American Association of Ophthalmologists reviewed 3.4 million visits to Veterans Affairs clinics during a five-year period and discovered that nearly 607,000 patients were diagnosed with dry eye. This condition was brought on by low humidity during spring and winter.
To determine whether certain environmental factors are causing your eye irritation, see your eye doctor for an exam. Dry eyes may also be a symptom of other serious health conditions, so don’t put off seeing an ophthalmologist just because you think cold weather is to blame. Some of the disorders that can cause or contribute to dry eye include:
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Thyroid disease
- Vitamin A deficiency
During your appointment, tell your doctor about any other health conditions you have and any medications you’re taking. If your doctor determines the cold is in fact making your eyes painful and irritated, follow these tips to restore some peace and comfort to your life.
Stay Away from Direct Heat
Warming up by a fire after walking in from the cold may be a relief, but don’t spend too much time in front of it. Heat causes the tear film on your eyes to evaporate, leaving the surface of your eye vulnerable to drying out.
Wear Protective Eyewear Outside
Already dry eyes will become even worse when they’re exposed to icy winds. Wrap-around sunglasses are perfect protection against windy winter days. If you need help finding a new pair of shades this winter, check out our buyer’s guide to sunglasses.
Keep Eye Drops Handy
You can purchase over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears as part of your winter eye care routine. Eye drops and artificial tears are reliable remedies for dry eyes. Keep a bottle with you throughout the day to take care of any sudden episodes of irritation.
If drops aren’t doing any good, a dry eye gel might be a good alternative. Dry eye gel is best applied before bed because it might interfere with the clarity of your vision.
Consume Omega-3 Oils
Omega-3 Oils can improve function in the eye’s Meibomian glands, which produce the oily parts of tears. A study of more than 32,000 women found that a higher dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a decreased incidence of dry eye syndrome. Omega-3 oils can be found in:
- Fatty fishes like salmon and tuna
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Palm and soybean oil
Talk to a Doctor if Your Dry Eyes Persist
If your best efforts don’t improve things this winter, your eye doctor may need to prescribe a remedy. Schedule an appointment with Barnet Dulaney Perkins to start restoring comfort to your eyes now.
Learn more about the causes and symptoms of chronic dry eyes.