I see it personally in my clinic and hear it from patients every day. This time of the year dry eye syndrome symptoms explode and cause a multitude of problems: fluctuations in vision, burning, redness, excessive tearing, grittiness… The list goes on and on.
Why does this happen? Most patients have some varying degree of dry eye syndrome. A large part of dry eyes are caused by your environment. For example, while in training I spent a semester in Santa Fe NM, treating patients in a hospital setting. Almost every single patient suffered from dry eye syndrome. This was due to the dry, high desert environment. While we don’t live in the high desert, when the winter hits in the Midwest, so does the cold and dry air. Not only that, but your furnace is pumping out hot and dry air. The result? A flare-up of dryness for your eyes.
So what can you do to combat this dryness and keep your eyes comfortable? Below are some tips that will help you get through this cold snap:
Add a humidifier. Many patients I talk to have a humidifier on their furnace, but not in their bedroom. Adding a humidifier where you sleep can significantly improve your symptoms (I know that may not make sense, but trust me). Not only that, but your mouth, skin, and sinuses will feel a lot better too.
Ditch the fan. If you are like me, you may need some white noise to help you catch those ZZZZZ’s. A fan (whether ceiling or table-top) provides great white noise, but is very problematic for dryness. Even if the fan is not pointed at you it will still dry out your eyes.
Heat your feet. Getting in the car and cranking the heat may feel good, but if that heat is directed at your face it will definitely cause dry eye problems. Instead, try turning the vents on by your feet. This still warms up you and the car, but takes away from that direct drying draft.
Drink more. I’m not taking about your favorite cocktail – that would actually make your symptoms worse! I am talking about more hydrating fluids. Hot tea is a great way to stay warm and hydrated. Good hydration has a positive impact on how your eyes feel.
Start using ocular lubricants (artificial tears) before you experience symptoms. Just like you don’t wait until your hands are terribly cracked and painful to use hand lotion, you shouldn’t wait until your eyes are painful to use eye drops. A small amount of prevention goes a long way.
Keep the above list in mind when battling your dry eye. Please see our dry eye section on our website for more information by clicking here
- Dr. Jaynes